I am reminded of the way in which late-era Gatiss stories landed with a sense of pleasurable relief. Not in the high stakes way of Rosa or The Woman Who Fell to Earth where being crap would have had disastrous consequences, but in the way that you’re relieved when you brace yourself for pain that never comes. “Attack of the giant spiders written by Chris Chibnall” is as far from a straightforwardly promising premise as it is possible to get. And yet this is surprisingly good. It’s not a classic in the all-time best sense, but in the well-worn and vintage sense; it’s Doctor Who doing what Doctor Who does, and doing it well.
It’s fair to ask why. If you rifle through the back catalog for an obvious analogue, after all, the closest thing you get is probably The Lazarus Experiment, which is an outright failure of an episode. They’re both “return to Earth” episodes in which the Doctor finds a non-alien threat around the family life of one of someone who goes from being a temporary companion to a permanent fixture. Neither offers a particularly compelling premise or a searing sense of ambition. Indeed, there’s not necessarily an ...
Yet another strand of Wrong With Authority launches. This time it's Carter Before the Horse. It's basically just Consider the Reagan but earlier.
In this inaugural edition, James, Kit, and Jack watch Kubrick's The Shining, and say things about it.
Beware Triggers, because we talk about the film's themes, and they're not pretty.*
I'm joined this week by the legendary Kate Orman (along with two cute but really annoying dogs and an intermittent drilling sound that crash the party, though both mercifully say in the background) to talk about Rosa.
A strange case where the episode itself matters less than the standards you decide to apply to it. What, exactly, do we want out of “Doctor Who meets Rosa Parks”? What is this supposed to do? A lot of us, myself included, reacted with a measure of wariness to, really, the whole affair. There are a lot of very obvious ways to do this wrong, and very little sense of how you’d do it right. The news that it’s by Malorie Blackman was comforting, but the fact that Chibnall saw fit to rewrite a black woman on Rosa Parks was ominous, and Blackman’s absence from the publicity and relative silence about the episode on Twitter seemed a bad omen.
In light of that, the easiest emotion to feel about the episode itself is relief. This is tightly constructed and coherent in ways previous episodes haven’t been. The character work is appreciably more lively. As a technical object, it’s vastly improved over both of the episodes before it. And despite a few clumsy moments, most obviously the bathos of the “they even named an asteroid after her” sequence, this is mostly considerably more subtle and intelligent than one might have feared ...
In which shit is shot by Shana and me, mostly on the subject of the Ghost Monument, but often by whatever shiny thing caught our attention.
Waaaaay back in May, Daniel and I got together to record commentaries on 'The Lodger' and 'Closing Time', both by Gareth Roberts. We did it pretty much for shits and giggles, but here it is anyway, for the listening pleasure of anyone who wants to hear us moaning on and on and on about the Moffat era one last time. Think of it as the end of an era. In more ways than one, I'm afraid, as this will probably be the last Shabcast. The format seems dead. Too bound up with Doctor Who. But I shall continue podcasting with Daniel, Kit, and James as Wrong With Authority, and may create a new solo podcast at some time in the future.
By the way, the musical interlude in the middle is Mona Haydar's Hijabi (Wrap my Hijab), suggested by Shana.
There’s a typical review structure where I talk about the good things for a while and then lead up to a “but” that brings it all crashing down. I liked this, though, so let’s do it the wrong way around. The biggest problem is in the resolution, and what it ends up doing to the sense of pacing. Having Angstrom and Enzo simply vanish into thin air with all the implications of their characters being left entirely unresolved is deeply weird, or at least it would be if it came from someone other than the guy who found no implications to consider in the Doctor committing stone cold murder in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and who wrote the bewilderingly misshapen The Power of Three. As it stands, it’s a deeply worrisome “ooh, you still aren’t real big on dramatic unities are you?” moment. Jumping from that to a bizarrely unearned moment of the Doctor giving up hope when the TARDIS isn’t on that specific rock at that specific moment is clearly a problem. And similar problems abound. The “Ryan charges out with a gun” sequence is put together with no real thought towards the degree that it renders the ...
Here's the first of our Series 11 run of podcasts, in which I'm joined by the ever-wonderful Caitlin Smith to talk about Jodie Whittaker's debut episode.
Thanks as ever to Pex Lives for hosting our podcast. James continues to be bad at logging into the site to announce his new releases, but there's been an episode on Snakedance and an installment of City of the Dead since the Ithaca thing I did with James over the summer. Here's the full list of recent episodes.