Doctor Who: Power Of The Doctor TV review

Okay, this review of Power Of The Doctor is going to be loaded with spoilers, sweetie. But since it’s almost a month from the original airdate, you’ve really only got yourself to blame, don’t you? Anyway…

It’s been a rough run for Jodie Whitaker. The first female Doctor in the show’s long history, she was always going to be controversial. The eyes of the world were on her, and a not-unsubstantial number of internet trolls were hoping that she’d fail miserably.

With a new showrunner in Chris Chibnall and a markedly new tone to the show, Jodie’s first season at the TARDIS console was a patchy affair. There were some ambitious storytelling approaches with Demons Of The Punjab and Rosa both delving into historical events, but overall things were flat. Things improved with her second season, particularly Fugitive Of The Judoon, which introduced a mystery incarnation of The Doctor, and the finale which blew all continuity out the window by revealing The Doctor as “The Timeless Child”.

Power Of The Doctor

Power Of the Doctor suffers from trying to bundle a galaxy of fan service into a lacklustre storyline.

At its heart is a convoluted plot by The Master to erase The Doctor from existence. Reeling in the Cyber Masters and Daleks plus a sentient alien to power a planet, the storyline is a strip of clingfilm holding together some genuinely wonderful fan moments. Honestly, I’ve just watched the episode for the second time and the plot still makes no sense.

That said, the episode made room to bring back two classic era companions (Ace and Teagan), five Doctors (David Bradley, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Paul “I don’t do robes” McGann) as well as Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor. There’s even a little Whitaker-era fan service with the return of Vinder and Graham. Not to mention the Post-Doctor Trauma Support Group that includes even more classic companions.

The Good Bits

Teagan and Ace both got some closure as they met their classic Doctors - Davison and McCoy respectively. Sure, it was a slightly botched hologram, but both got to perhaps say things that were left unsaid at the end of their classic stories, and it was good to see the Doctors in their original costumes again.

Sacha Dhawan’s Master was in particularly sadistic form, taunting Teagan over her dead aunt (which The Master was responsible for) and chillingly threatening to Yaz. But biggest props for his Boney M dance number - dancing to Rasputin as…Rasputin!

Even though the Fugitive Doctor reappearance was a holographic fake-out, it was good to see Jo Martin back for this episode. Did we ever get to the bottom of that mystery though? I’m hoping that Doctor Who and Russell T Davies doesn’t drop that thread, and we get some kind of satisfying conclusion to the story.

Regeneration and THOSE teeth

Jodie Whitaker regenerates in Power Of The Doctor

Jodie Whitaker's Doctor Who regeneration scene

So, we’ve got to talk about that regeneration. First off, it was the most visually stunning of the modern series. Which makes it the most visually stunning ever really. The Doctor goes off alone to see one last sunrise and regenerates on the edge of a cliff - shooting regeneration beams off across multiple planes and it. Is. Exquisite.

And then, the nation peered into the golden glow of Jodie’s face, watching to see Ncuti Gatwa morph out of it. Until a familiar face started to form, and a shock of hair that could only be David Tennant’s. If you’d been on Twitter, this wouldn’t have been a surprise, as its been speculated for some time that Tennant would serve as an interim Doctor before regenerating into Ncuti.

David Tennant inside the TARDIS

David Tennant's return to Doctor Who

Part of me felt a little bad for Whitaker though - after an episode drenched in nostalgia and surprise appearances, her own regeneration was upstaged by the return of The World’s Favourite Doctor.

We were instantly whisked back to those early seasons - speculating on WHAT IT ALL MEANT, and wondering why (for the first time) The Doctor’s actual clothes had regenerated as well. That doesn’t usually happen. But bring back a signature Doctor and you might as well bring back their signature wardrobe.

So, long story short - a narratively forgettable exit for Jodie Whitaker, with a story that was overly reliant on guest appearances and the shock return of David Tennant. Like Capaldi before her, Jodie deserved better writing, better adventures and perhaps a more distinctive personality (Jo Martin managed it) for the first female Doctor.

Gerard McGarry

Gerard McGarry

Gerard is a contributing writer for The Levee Breaks. Liberal, humanist type. Optimist. Lover of life. Tryer of new things.

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