In Review: Doctor Who – Spyfall – Part One

Doctor Who channels its inner 007 in the season 12 premier episode

Synopsis: When intelligence agents around the world come under attack from alien forces, MI6 turns to the only person who can help: The Doctor.

Review: The series 12 opener begins with a promising story, which allows for great character development, but still needs to bring us a Doctor who is in control, which she is anything but.

I’ll be keeping this review as spoiler light as possible so as not to ruin one of the surprises reveals for our US audience, who haven’t seen the episode yet.

The Story

When intelligence operatives from around the globe begin to come under attack from a mysterious alien force. The Doctor, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz are called into MI6 by the chief of operations known as “C”. When at MI6 HQ they find out that a spy has been returned, but with their DNA completely re-arranged. “C” tasks that Doctor and her friends to investigate the head of VOR, which is run by a former agent called Daniel Barton, but before they can get any further information from “C” he is taken out of the equation by the aliens.  This forces the Doctor and her fam to make a rapid getaway in the Tardis, which brings one of the episode’s most scary moments when it is revealed that these aliens seem to be powerful enough to push through the Tardis defenses.

As the investigation moves further thanks to some help from the mysterious agent known as “O” who is hiding his own secret. The team learns that Barton’s DNA has been altered, which makes him only 93% human. They further learn that the alien invasion is much bigger than they initially thought.

The Acting

This episode was loaded with guest stars, which included Lenny Henry as Tech Billionaire Daniel Barton and Stephen Fry as “C”. It seemed to me that Fry was sort of using a combination of his Mycroft Holmes role from ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ and his Colonial K role from the ‘Danger Mouse’ animated series. Insofar as he is the big C of MI6. While Lenny Henry was playing a variation on the classic Bond villain but was only missing the White fluffy cat. All that said though. You get the distinct impression that these two characters are pretty much footsoldiers once we get the surprise reveal.

The Doctor comes face to face with a new Alien threat to Earth and this Dimension.

Jodie Whittaker still has a fair bit of work to do in order to convince me of her Doctor credential. She is still too bright and breezy for my liking and lacks the darker and more manipulative side or the I am in control persona of her previous incarnations. And she is still to get her “I AM The Doctor and This Planet is Protected” style speech. That said though. Jodie’s portrayal of a more fallible Doctor actually works out well for this episode given the nature of what she and the fam are actually up against. So hopefully Chibnall and his team or working toward a slow build-up for this incarnation.

Much like last season. It was Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole that provide the most relatable of the companions. I loved the scene where the two were very thrilled with the spy tools that “C” was trusting them with. I could imagine most guys having the exact same response that they did.

Overall

This was a really strong opening episode, which left us off with a fantastic Cliffhanger where The Doctor finds herself separated and isolated from her friends. All the spy thriller elements were there and at times the story set up felt a little like a Pertwee era episode, but inverted so we get a Doctor who is very much out of her element.  Whereas Pertwee would have been totally bossing the situation.

In various interviews and spoilers, I have read. It has been strongly suggested that the Judoon would feature in this opening story. This first episode doesn’t feature them at all. But you can see why they’d actually be needed given the setup that we saw play out in this opening installment. Hopefully when they do show up. They get given a substantial role in helping resolve the alien threat that the Earth is facing.

Episode two of this opener will be hitting our television screens on Sunday. So keep an eye out for our review of the concluding part of the story.

8.9
Doctor Who - Spyfall - Part One
  • Story
    9.0
  • Acting
    8.6
  • CGI & Stunts
    9.5
  • Incidental Music
    8.5

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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