My grumpy, off the cuff, reviews of Flux are available in a neat little PDF booklet, via the lovely Ko-Fi website ("pay what you like"). They are available free to all my lovely Patreon subscribers.
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The idea of a companion stepping up and becoming a Doctor-substitute is entirely original and has never been touched on before in New Who, apart from with Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Clara.Not to forget Lalla Ward's Romana!But… rather than a specific gimmick that keeps getting recycled, I came to the conclusion some seasons ago that this is simply what being a companion has come to mean in NuWho. Steven Moffat gave the game away in the title of “The Magician's Apprentice”: the companion in NuWho is not the Doctor's assistant, she is the Doctor's apprentice. Sooner or later, if no tragic ending gets in the way, she will find her own means of travelling around having Doctorish adventures, no longer needing the mentor-slash-imaginary friend in the blue box. This leaves the Doctor free to move on to inspiring the next promising youth, like Mary Poppins flying off to fix the next family now that the Banks children have been reconciled with their da.You may like this or not like it; personally I quite enjoy it. I think it is an effective and creative way to square an old circle: the disconnect between companions being the designated audience identification figures, and the actual audience members, by and large, fantasising about being Dr Who more often than they fantasise about being Donna Noble.(All of which said, Yaz needing to write out her thematic arc in sharpie on the palm of her hand is a mind-numbingly bone-headed way to play with this idea, so let this not be construed as an argument for Flux's goodness.)
If I said that it was Seurat rather than Monet who painted little dots, would that be more or less pedantic than when I went on about exactly who swore at Bill Grundy? I mean I only want to say it if I’m going to beat my previous record.Anyway, from Monet to Batman…The show flipping over between the actors and the effects doing the hard work, that’s a classically Rilstonian insight. But forgive me I say I’m not sure it’s quite right. On the Batman TV show, Capey was essentially the straight man of his own universe. All the villains knew this was being played for yucks, he took it seriously. He was something like the Colonel in Monty Python, forever trying to restore order in a world essentially antithetical to order.And with Who, it’s pretty much the opposite. The thespian desperately emoting that the kitchen-foil-covered toilet roll is really an alien invasion fleet, he’s usually the bad guy. And the Doctor usually defeats him through being the only one who knows all this is a bit absurd.And not just Baker,. Troughton does it all the time. With Hartnell it’s maybe not constant but it is frequent. Not ‘The Aztecs’ but ‘The Romans’ or ‘Time Meddler’.““The Crimean war but Sontarans” is a very, very cool starting point for a story. But it is only a starting point. Chibnall entirely fails to do anything with it. We are supposed to enjoy the idea of Sontarans on horseback and then move on to the next thing.”I think that’s the only way we can watch it. One Sontaran says “I really wanted to ride a horse”, which has more authorial voice to it than anything else. My default comment while watching was “stop trying to make sense, Chibnall. You know you’re not very good at it.”