It feels so good to have Doctor Who back. In fact, it’s been gone for so long, and this idea of “anniversary specials” is so new that I forgot the second part happened this weekend! I found out by accident! Whoops. But, I got to watch it, and I have to say, “Wild Blue Yonder” delivered some classic stylings of the franchise that were sorrily missed in the last episode while also continuing the great acting from our dynamic duo. So, shall we get to part two of my Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special Review?
So, here is a very quick recap of the first anniversary special (please read my review!), the David Tennant version of The Doctor is back; he met up with Donna 15 years after their adventures in his original run, saved her from the Doctor-Donna complex, got her to journey with him back in the Tardis, she spilled coffee and screwed the Tardis up! Yes, really, that was the setup for this episode, and I still don’t like it a week later. That goes double since we have now gotten the episode, and it proved it WASN’T anything but the coffee that ruined everything, and it just…doesn’t make sense. But I’ll digress on that point to get to the good parts of the episode.
After meeting Sir Isaac Newton (which I’m sure people will find ways to complain about for dumb reasons), the two find themselves at the literal edge of the universe. A place that, ironically, The Doctor has never been to. He’s been to the end of time via the 12th Doctor’s run, but not the edge of the universe. The Doctor and Donna find themselves trapped on a mysterious spaceship when resetting the Tardis, and it leaves them due to an old safety function. So the question is, what is so wrong with the ship that it would cause the Tardis to flee?
I liked this episode over “The Star Beast” because it felt like a really good mystery. One that wasn’t solved until the last few minutes, versus the last episode where the twist with The Meep was revealed and then mitigated to deal with the Doctor-Donna problem. But here, the mystery of the ship and the “Beings of Nothing,” as I’ll call them, was compelling. The ship’s scanners said nothing was living onboard, yet we knew that was a lie. So, what could fool the scanners? Then, when we met the Beings, and they mimicked the Doctor and Donna, I’ll admit, I was fooled at first. There was no reason not to suspect it was who they said they were, and then when the “Other Donna” appeared, I was like, “Uh oh.” Nothing good comes from doppelgangers showing up.
And sure enough, these “Beings of Nothing” were monstrous, and they showed that in many forms. But in a fun twist, they were slowly becoming just like The Doctor and Donna beyond just physical appearance, but in knowledge and memory. So the question became, “How do you tell who is who?”
This is where the episode shined, as we saw David Tennant and Catherine Tate put on their acting chops to showcase two different sides of their characters, one being good and the other being a trickster. And it was infinitely compelling in the second “meetup” scene where they’re trying to trick one another to find out who was the real one. Whovians may not have liked the end of Jodie Whittaker’s run because of the “Timeless Child” reveal, but they made up for it at least a little by seeing Tennant’s Doctor react to the Flux event and how they don’t know where they came from, or how their history is a lie, in part.
Again, Tennant and Tate have been the real stars of this episode, and it’s so fun seeing them act together on screen again. They shined from start to finish, and that near-fatal finish with The Doctor choosing the wrong Donna was fun to see unfold.
Plus, the various twists surrounding the Beings, the ship, the captain, the robot, and more lead to a great explosive finale that felt like Doctor Who at its finest in many ways. I knew the robot would be important, but to have it be a literal triggerman for a shipwide bomb? Didn’t see that coming!
Oh, and did I mention we got Wilf back? Because we did! Seeing Bernard Cribbins back was a joy. Sadly, he’s no longer with us, but at least he got to film this before his passing.
So, once again, we’re at the point in my Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special Review where I must talk about the negative. Thankfully, it’s less this time, but it’s still noticeable. First off, despite the very cataclysmic ending to the last episode, “Wild Blue Yonder” started with a big comedy bit surrounding Newton and it… felt off. Especially when they threw in the “Mavity” joke, they’re going to fix that, right? Plus, the beginning parts of the episode felt kind of janky regarding The Doctor and Donna’s conversations about their being trapped. Donna had all her memories back, yet she acted as though they could never get off that ship because the Tardis was gone. They’d been in worse situations together, and yet that was what almost pushed her over the edge? Yes, I acknowledge that she was thinking of her family, and I loved her breakdown of who would wait the longest for her. But the leadup to that felt odd.
But the worst part of this episode was the special effects. I know they got a huge influx of cash from Disney, and it worked in their favor in the last episode with the alien costumes and such. But this time? They went WAY too far in the CGI pool, and it came off as bad and ridiculous in multiple parts. That running scene at the end? Yeah, that looked terrible, and you could tell in some many scenes that they were in front of a green screen.
Even still, “Wild Blue Yonder” had a great mystery, fun enemies, and a cliffhanger ending that was MUCH better than the last episode’s. The Toymaker is here, and The Doctor won’t survive the encounter! It’s regeneration time, ladies and gentlemen!
Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special Review
The second part of the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special was a much stronger outing with a deeper and more menacing plot with great character bits mixed in. The final part of Tennant’s second run is coming, and I look forward to seeing where it ends.
- Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special Review