Doctor Who Season 11 Thumbs Up or Down?

So we are done with Doctor Who’s 11th season.

We have a new showrunner, new writers, new Doctor, new companions and NO RETURNING OLD ENEMIES!

People gave this series a thumbs down before it had even started but what did I think after it ended? Feel free to leave a thumbs up or down in the comments and let us know how you felt about season 11!

So much was going on that it could have been a total mess. It is a big thing when you get a new show runner or a new Doctor but the changes that Chris Chibnall was making meant that a lot of people weren’t sure whether to even bother with season 11.

As huge fans of the beginning of Moffat’s era it was a sad yet happy change for me. I loved Eleven, hated Twelve and haven’t even watched the last season. I’ll go back to it later on now that I know how much I enjoy season 11, and yes I guess that gives away how I feel about the season as a whole, but having a new show runner was a exciting thing.

I’m going to go through a few different bits and pieces for the season, pretty much the things I listed in the opening, give each of them a thumbs up or down and explain why.

NEW DOCTOR – Thumbs Up

Jodie Whittaker was a controversial casting choice, it wasn’t a surprise with Moffat testing the water to how people would react to the show changing up the sex of a Time Lord when the Master became Missy that the next Doctor regenerated into a female. This had everyone up in arms and a lot of people didn’t even want to give Whittaker or her Doctor’s era a chance.

Personally I didn’t care about this change in the Doctor, I did with the Master for different reasons but I was interested in seeing what Chibnall would do with a female Doctor. I was a little worried that it might become a “look at how progressive we are” casting choice but it wasn’t. Whittaker nearly instantly was just The Doctor and as the season went on her character slowly started to form into her own unique thing. People pointed at the weird outfit as a throwback to Six, some people felt her mannerisms reminded them of either Ten or Eleven but by the end of the season she was much more her own thing.

Weird clothes suit The Doctor and her clothes show off her character. The way she talks to herself at 100 miles a hour, her interactions with her companions and the guests. I loved it all.

There are still bits and pieces that need to be firmed up. They did a lot of that in the final episode with the talk on what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to blowing things up and killing others but there are times where she’s approaching someone with the intensity that she should have but then it feels she shrugs it off. I’m not saying we need to see her make moral speeches every time someone does something wrong, it was something I loved about Eleven but that was Eleven not Thirteen, but sometimes I feel like there could just be more oomph in the scenes, a change of music or just a moment or two later in the episode that shows that she was series.

As I said they did it perfectly in the finale with her talk with Graham and that look she gave him when asking what happened to Tzim-Sha and the reaction to finding out what had happened. It was a wonderful moment but some of the episodes just felt like it was one little detail that wasn’t too important when it IS it was important in putting Thirteen’s boundaries down, it is part of her personality.

She’s kind, she’s quirky but there is a lot of room for improvement but Whittaker pretty much instantly became one of my favourite Doctors of all time. Hopefully her era continues to make me love her.

NEW COMPANIONS – Thumb in the Middle

Yes I know it is a bit of a cop out but stick with it.

I LOVE having three companions, I like that the big connection is between Graham and Ryan and not Ryan and Yas, I like we don’t have a romantic tie and we just get to have adventures in space with a group of friends. THAT IS WHAT I WANT!

Thing is I loved Graham and Ryan’s relationship but I feel like there was no direction in the episodes to what exactly is happening at any point in time. It felt shoved in to a few episodes, little moments here and there that just didn’t need to be there. Then it was ignored and there were some nice little moments before the final two episodes kind of felt…. Too much?

I have no real way to describe it really.

I loved the little moment in episode 9 where Graham turns his back on the Solitract that had taken the form of Grace because he knew that she’d never leave Ryan to face danger and that was enough to prove to Ryan that Graham was his grandfather and deserved that respect but then it felt too much to have Graham the center of attention in a moral dilemma over the death of Grace in the very next episode.

Graham and Ryan though were absolutely the highlight of many episodes.

The same can’t be said about Yas.

Now I love Yas and Mandip Gill has been amazing with what she’s been given to do, the problem is that her role in the team is usually in the background and even episodes that have her as the main companion she never stands out. She had great interactions with a lot of the guest cast but at the same time she felt more like a historian or a observer then a member of the team. Even with the team itself she didn’t really, at times, feel like she was interacting with them in a natural way.

So whilst I loved the companions and so many of their stories I feel like the series didn’t have a real direction for them. There was a underlying story with Graham and Ryan which felt badly handled most of the time and all three were great characters but I’d like for them to have just stronger characters in the next season.

It can be done with three people it very nearly was in this series it was just like a story that starts out exciting and strong and then fades into a ending with no real connection to the beginning of said story.

NO RETURNING ENEMIES – ENTER NEW FACES! – Thumbs Up

Tzim-Sha, Ptings, the Morax and Solitract…

A whole series without having to cram in Daleks or Cybermen, Weeping Angels or Slitheen… It worked so well and I’m so happy we got to see new ideas that weren’t tied down to years and years of backstories.

Of course a lot of what seemed like the “enemy” including the Solitract weren’t actually the enemy and there was a overall feel of “humans/humanoids do bad things” theme running through it.

In things like Demons of the Punjab I LOVED it because it was a nice twist to “look aliens were there in a historic point making humans do bad things” and actually told us a proper history story laying blame exactly where it needs to be laid whilst introducing a species like Thijarian who could return either as the peaceful race trying to witness the death of people who die on their own or earlier in their time line as a actual threat.

Whilst I get that they need something to make historical episodes interesting whilst teaching history I liked that the focus was on the history and telling us the actual stories of what happened whilst introducing something dramatic like the Morax in The Witchfinders or Krasko in Rosa to give the team some running around to do whilst spitting out all we need to know about the historical figures and times we were witnessing.

Every single enemy/alien race/non-human thing we saw just looked amazing. Of course the majority of things we meet are going to be human looking because BBC don’t have a endless budget to make sure they have a million alien looking creatures running around for Doctor Who but when they weren’t meant to be from Earth they made them FEEL like they weren’t from Earth.

I kind of don’t want any returning monsters ever. I think we need to see Jodie have a Dalek episode I guess because the Daleks are as much Doctor Who as anything else but I’d like to see a less “Daleks/Cybermen take over the world” plot and maybe actually re-visit stories from Classic Who. Actually going back to their roots and their planets. I dunno but I think I want Thirteen’s era to be less about giant CGI feats to show off how dangerous the Daleks are and have smaller, more meaningful episodes like Nine was able to have.

NO DOUBLE PARTS – Thumbs Up

Double part episodes can be great, it means a story can be expanded and we get a lot more to dive into. Unfortunately… I don’t feel we’ve had many decent two parters and most of them just didn’t need the extra time.

This season being single, stand alone episodes meant that all stories had to keep up a decent pace to get all the story, character development, explosive scenes and just Moments in.

It worked as well.

Whilst I think there should have been a more precise plan with what was happening with Graham/Ryan and all the main TARDIS team could have done with a bit more story heavy development I didn’t mind that all the episodes just kind of made one big anthology of fun adventures with the Doctor. At the end of the day that is what it should be.

Nothing more to say! I’ll have a 5 Things… of my 5 favourite episodes out later in the week. I just thought it was magical to be honest!

GUEST CAST – Thumbs Up (WAY UP HIGH!)

I guess I’ll also have a 5 Things… for my favourite Guest cast members too but this year has really pulled out the boat.

To be honest one big complaint I had about a lot of Moffat’s era was that he’d have FANTASTIC big name actors or maybe not so big but still quite big in UK TV stuff and then under utilize them. People like Olivia Coleman, Tobias Menzie, Annette Crosbie, Richard E. Grant, Liam Cunningham and David Warner….

Actually most of the cast of Cold War. That was so heavy on actors I love and they were all under utilized.

This time out there was only one (Mark Addy) that I felt just didn’t do much but the others no matter how big or small were BRILLIANT!

Spoiler, Astos is 100% in my top 5. Never heard of Brett Goldstein before and the tiny bit he had to play in The Tsuranga Conundrum still made him stand out over the ENTIRE series because the characters MEANT SOMETHING.

There was a high body count in this series but it didn’t matter how big or small your part was your character really mattered and wasn’t there as fodder to the big bad. Lee Mack, I hate him but he was tremendous in what little he did as was Claudia Jessie, another person I’d never heard of before Kerblam!, and they made the story more dramatic, more personal and gave the story much more then just being a famous face there for the sake of it.

It just felt like you wanted to stay forever with each and every one of the guest cast members but you knew you only had this little 45 minute time bubble to get to know them and you did. It also gave some of the best moments like Yas wanting to give Dan’s daughter back the necklace she gave him and on the opposite side of it when King James tried to get Ryan to return to London with him.

Those moments meant something and weeks after the episodes aired I remember them. I never did remember anything with the guest stars back in the day.

SEASON 11 OVERALL – Thumbs Up

Of course this isn’t surprising.

I enjoyed every episode, I liked all the guest cast and thought it looked amazing. There is literally nothing I hated at all and whilst I have complaints here and there and concerns that this series has taken the bar, stuck it in a different place completely and raised it too high I’m hooked. I can’t wait till New Year for the new episode, I can’t wait to return to the TARDIS crew next year for the next full season and I seriously want to see where Chibnall goes.

Personally I loved the Moffat era but I don’t want to see over complicated stories, character arcs or the stories being all about WHO the Doctor is or WHY the companion is so important any more.

I want precise story telling with episodes having good strong beginning, middles and ends. I want to see the Doctor travelling with her companions and having a good time, a tough time but always trying to do the right thing. Graham and Ryan worked so well for me because I could understand their relationship, it didn’t have to be because this person and that person in this episode and that episode were related and in five episodes time we’ll get a twist from the past and then one from the future.

I loved that in Moffat, I didn’t mind the companions being the be all and end all in RTD and Moffat’s era but I like that the show is now focusing on STORIES that just so happen to include the main cast. I don’t want the stories to return to being about them.

Whittaker is one of the best Doctors but she could have a stronger character, hopefully they give her some bigger moments in the next season.

A trio in the TARDIS with no romantic links and a family feel is BRILLIANT and very much what we needed after nearly all of Ten’s companions fell in love with him and Eleven’s companions were the most important thing in the universe… I don’t know about Twelves last companions because I stopped watching so won’t say anything.

Not sure they can really top this years guest cast though.

This series has been hated by people who don’t like change, it doesn’t live up to some people’s standards and was never going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I personally went in with a open mind as I do whenever there are big changes and came out wanting more. It might not be what you want from your Doctor Who but if you haven’t bothered to watch it because you didn’t want to see a female Doctor and people have been saying it is shit then please just give a few episodes, it doesn’t even matter which ones, a try because I think they’ve done a lot of work to try and make a series that can cater to anyone and everyone.

They physically can’t do that but if you boycotted because of Whittaker being the Doctor and you refuse to give it a try you might just be missing out on something magical that you’ve been missing for a while now.

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