by Julian Spivey
The Chris Chibnall/Jodie Whittaker era of “Doctor Who” came to an end on Sunday, Oct. 23 with “The Power of The Doctor,” which said farewell to Whittaker’s incarnation of The Thirteenth Doctor.
The Chibnall/Whittaker era was a disappointment. Sure, there were some good episodes during the duo’s four-year run, but it wound up being the weakest iteration of The Doctor since the show was revived in 2005. I had such high hopes for Chibnall as showrunner of “Doctor Who” after the last few seasons of Steven Moffatt’s run had grown stale for me. As a fan of Chibnall’s crime drama “Broadchurch,” I knew his talent was great and thought he could bring some nice change to the long-running sci-fi series. I was wrong. A lot of fans blame Whittaker, but that’s just not fair. Chibnall was in charge of the series and should be the one to take the blame.
“The Power of the Doctor” was the last of three 2022 “Doctor Who” specials after “Eve of the Daleks,” broadcast on New Year’s Day, and the truly horrible (the worst modern episode of “Doctor Who” in my opinion) “Legend of the Sea Devils,” which aired on Easter.
“The Power of the Doctor” begins with The Doctor and her two companions Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Dan Lewis (John Bishop) trying to save a high-speed train from a new race of Cyberman, known as the CyberMasters. When Dan is almost killed during this mission he decides he’s ready to call it quits and return home. It was the most unceremonious end to a companion at least during the modern times of “Doctor Who” going back to 2005. It was frankly laughable, but also seemed completely befitting Dan because he seems like a footnote in the show’s history. The least interesting companion of the modern era.
The bulk of the story revolved around The Master (Sacha Dhawan) trying to force a regeneration of The Doctor so that he could overtake The Doctor as himself. Part of his plan to do this includes destroying the world by uniting two of The Doctor’s most hated villains (and the two most used in the series) the Cybermen and Daleks.
Dhawan did a nice job as The Master during the Chibnall era, one of the few true highlights of this era. I can’t say I prefer him to previous Masters of the modern era in John Simm and Michelle Gomez, but he certainly put his little spin on the character and didn’t disappoint.
The story of “The Power of the Doctor” is fine if nothing special and it may even be the finest finale for a Doctor actor since David Tennant’s more than a decade ago. I was disappointed in Matt Smith’s finale and honestly can’t remember anything about Peter Capaldi’s finale.
What “The Power of the Doctor” does nicely is fan service when it comes to giving long-time fans of the show familiar faces in former companions Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Tegan (Janet Fielding) and to a lesser extent cameos by former Doctors Peter Davison (fifth Doctor), Colin Baker (sixth Doctor), Sylvester McCoy (seventh Doctor) and Paul McGann (eighth Doctor). These were nice for me, but I’ve only been a viewer of the modern series, so I’m sure they were even more exciting for fans of both eras of “Doctor Who.”Sacha
The appearance of a past companion that excited me the most was the brief appearance of Graham (Bradley Walsh), who was my favorite companion of Whittaker’s tenure as The Doctor, though why he was around in the storyline was never really explained and quite confusing. It would’ve been nice to see Ryan, but actor Tosin Cole was either unavailable or uninterested.
The ending of “The Power of the Doctor” was genuinely surprising.
We knew that Russell T. Davies, who rebooted “Doctor Who” in 2005 and ran the show until 2010, was returning to run the series and that Ncuti Gatwa had been hired to be the next Doctor. We also knew that David Tennant, who’s likely the most favorite Doctor among fans, would be returning for a few specials for the show’s 60th anniversary next year.
We assumed when Whittaker’s Doctor regenerated at the end of her finale we’d get our first appearance of Gatwa as the Fourteenth Doctor, but it turns out the Fourteenth Doctor is, in fact, the Tenth Doctor. Whittaker regenerated into Tennant. So, it seems Gatwa will actually be the Fifteenth Doctor when his tenure begins sometime in 2023. The Tennant specials are set to air in November of 2023, giving “Doctor Who” fans a long wait before any new episodes.
by Julian Spivey
The thing I’ll always appreciate the most about AMC’s “Kevin Can F**k Himself,” which wrapped its two-season, 16-episode run on Monday night (Oct. 10), was its unique, one-of-a-kind format in which it was part single-cam dark drama and part multi-cam, brightly lit sitcom.
The show itself was always solid, though never anything greater, but the format is something I’m always going to remember. Creator Valerie Armstrong took a major swing with this format and should be highly commended for doing so.
In the first season, which aired in 2021, housewife Allison McRoberts (played by Annie Murphy fresh off her Emmy win for “Schitt’s Creek) is fed up with her life of being mostly ignored and not much more than a maid for her schlub of a husband Kevin (played by Eric Petersen). Feeling there isn’t another way to escape her sad life she devises a plan to have her husband killed.
Anytime Kevin appears on the screen the show is in multi-cam sitcom mode. Anytime he’s not on the screen the show is in single-cam drama mode.
This was a choice inspired by the short-lived CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait,” starring Kevin James, which unceremoniously killed off his TV wife played by Erinn Hayes in between seasons one and two in hopes of changing the plot of the show and leading to added viewers (it didn’t work). But it did show how some sitcom wives can be so underdeveloped it doesn’t matter if they’re just written off. Hayes made a tongue-in-cheek guest appearance in the “Kevin Can F**k Himself” series finale on Monday night.
Allison’s plot to have her husband killed, for which she received help in the form of her friend and neighbor Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden), failed in season one. It failed rather big, in fact, and made her life more of a living hell by turning her husband into a local hero.
So, as season two began in late August, the plot had switched from Allison attempting to kill Kevin and rather trying to fake her own death. The first seven episodes of the season see Allison devising this plan, again with the help of Patty as their friendship continues to grow deeper. These episodes also show Kevin, albeit still in a sitcom parody, doing things to make the others closest to him in life like his father Pete (Brian Howe) and his best friend Neil (Alex Bonifer) fade away a bit. One of the highlights of season two was getting to see Bonifer as Neil do a bit more, as he was able to escape this sitcom parody aspect of the show when stumbling upon Allison and Patty’s plans.
At the end of the penultimate episode of the season, Allison finally enacts her own plan. She’s assumed the identity of a recently deceased person and moved from the only place she’s ever known Worcester, Mass. to Maine. The finale begins six months later showing Allison to be incredibly bored with her new life, Patty’s incredibly bored in her old life without her best friend, and Kevin, of course, doesn’t seem to care that much. He’s now using his live-in dad as his housekeeper and has already found a new girlfriend.
Ultimately, Allison figured out she didn’t need to run away from her life in Worcester. She just needed to get away from Kevin. She returns to Worcester to confront him. Before their confrontation, which has been a long time coming, Pete and Neil, both finally stand up for themselves and rid themselves of their son and best friend, respectively. Kevin still doesn’t understand he’s the problem.
As soon as Allison surprises him at their old home, Kevin is ecstatic thinking his luck has turned and things can go back to how they once were. Allison asks for a divorce. At this point, we finally see Kevin in the single cam, darkly lit dramatic portion of the show for the first time. He’s always been a monster, but we haven’t really gotten the chance to see him in full monster glory until now. Kevin gaslights the hell out of Allison and says the divorce is not going to happen and he’ll ruin his wife. She leaves triumphantly.
She’s finally escaped her husband. In the end, Kevin officially fucks himself, something that was a long time coming. Allison and Patty reunite and promise to “die alone together,” which isn’t quite a storybook happy ending, but for these two friends, it also kind of is.
by Tyler Glover
Two hundred years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” the Targaryens ruled over all of Westeros. They had a multitude of dragons that spread fear that helped them sustain their dynasty. However, during the reign of the “Mad King,” Daenerys’ father, they were overthrown, and Daenerys Targaryen and her brother had to flee to exile. At the beginning of ‘GOT,’ Daenerys decides to take back what was destined to be hers: The Iron Throne. “Game of Thrones” follows her on that particular adventure but now, thanks to the first prequel series, “House of the Dragon,” we are given the opportunity to see what it was like when the Targaryens did rule Westeros. Given the huge success of “Game of Thrones,” there is a lot riding on this. Does “House of the Dragon” recapture the adventure, the drama, the intrigue, the dragons, the love, the revenge, and the surprise deaths the way its predecessor did? It does but on a smaller scale.
As we join this series, the matter at hand is who will be first in line for the Iron Throne if King Viserys (Paddy Considine) dies. He has no male heir, and the two options are either his eldest daughter, Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) or his brother, Daemon (Matt Smith). Traditionally, a woman has never sat on the Iron Throne. In fact, when Viserys was even chosen to sit on the Throne, his cousin, Rhaenyrs (Eve Best), was overlooked even though she would have been the rightful heir if gender had not been of any concern. Due to his brother’s poor reputation, Viserys proclaims his heir to be his daughter, Rhaenyra. This causes friction with even her best friend, Alicent (Emily Carey). However, the show presents us with an eerie feeling that when Viserys does die, the succession will be challenged, and blood will most likely be shed.
Where this show really is different from “Game of Thrones” was the world was so much bigger in the original. We got a chance to get to know so many characters that we grew to love, ones we hated, and ones that we hated we loved. Due to this prequel series really focusing on the Targaryens, the plot is more focused. This does not stop the “Game of Thrones” drama we have come to love though. Surprise deaths, shifting alliances, breathtaking battle sequences, and intrigue keep us on our toes. It is truly a visually dazzling spectacle that delivers all the thrills of the original ‘GOT, while also making its own mark in the Westeros universe.
The performances in the show are fantastic but the real standout is Alcock as Rhaenyra. She deserves an Emmy nomination for this role. Alcock infuses Rhaenyra with the same passion, wit and intelligence that Emilia Clarke did as Daenerys in the original. We are rooting for her to succeed and believe in her abilities. She calls things like she sees them and does not need a council to help her make these “safe” decisions that they have made for years before her.
Unfortunately, due to the extreme time jumps, her time on the show is already over. This is one aspect that fans hated about the last season of “Game of Thrones.” Season eight showed us how quickly it could dash to the finish. This show follows the same trajectory. Every episode sees time jump quite a bit. While this didn’t work in the favor of the last season, here it works perfectly. We are getting to see the setup for what is to come. I wish there was a little more time given to some of these story arcs, but that makes the show so exciting.
The show still has three more episodes to go before it finishes its first season. So far, the show is doing an excellent job at setting everything up. I am hoping though that as we enter season two, we will get to see the events play out in real-time more. This show excels the most in its ability to make us feel like we know where the story is going but surprise us with what will happen. Every Sunday evening, I know two things: I will be anxiously waiting for “House of the Dragon” to come on and that winter is coming.