What the Flux? A Review of Doctor Who’s Highly Advertised Return

Written by Iona Wagg

This Halloween, Doctor Who returned to our screens with its new series, simply titled ‘Flux’. The ambitious return introduced fans and casual viewers alike to new, as well as familiar faces – such as Weeping Angels and Sontarans. However, this author poses the question, how predictable will it be?

It is fair to say that Doctor Who has certainly been lacklustre as of the last few years, with previous showrunners Steven Moffat and Russell T. Davies having left the show for other ventures – leaving the show’s reputation and legacy vulnerable. Chris Chibnall, the show’s current lead-writer, who has had prior successes with the Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood, as well as the highly acclaimed Broadchurch, has certainly struggled in keeping the show afloat since taking over in 2016. In the last few years, Doctor Who has been bumped from its regular Saturday night primetime slot, and even its previously iconic Christmas Day special slot – with the BBC opting for more popular programmes instead.

Since this time, Chibnall’s run of the show has been reduced down to poor writing and cheap gags in order to maintain the show’s continuation – this has not gone unnoticed by fans and casual viewers, and this special is no different. Flux’s writing and reliability on what has been successful in the past feels like a clear sign that the writers don’t know what direction to take the show in – or how to bring it back to its glory days (which this author would argue would be Russell T. Davies era). The reliance on old, classic enemies of the Doctor highlights the show’s inability to construct new and original storylines to grasp audiences.

However, it must be said that the ingenuity to create a narrative over the course of six 50-minute episodes borders on being creative – having only been done once before in the show’s history in 1978. The cinematography in the show is still beautiful, and the directing shows that Doctor Who still provides the top quality that is expected from the BBC. However, these may just be the only redeeming factors to the start of this new series, and it is abundantly clear that this special emphasises that Doctor Who is simply a shell of what it once was.

Personally, as a long-time viewer of the show, it is incredibly disappointing to see the downward turn that Doctor Who has taken, especially within this special, and fortunately, other students feel the same way.

Liza said: “[this] has to be considered a fault” and that “I have no faith and despair in the knowledge that Jodie will continue to be scapegoated for the faults of Chibnall”.

Whilst another viewer pointed out that “running like that in the dark, you would’ve been spotted instantly. John Bishop would’ve been shot in about 2 seconds”.

Ultimately, the most shocking part of the whole ordeal of sitting through this 50-minute disaster on wheels is the SFX makeup for Karvanista – an anthropomorphic dog with possibly the worst costume I’ve ever seen in Doctor Who. One person even went as far as to say that “it look[ed] like a man in a very bad dog suit” which I would argue summarises the character design perfectly. In comparison to characters such as Brannigan in series 3, episode 3 or even the Sisters of Plenitude in series 2, episode 1 – episodes which were produced nearly fifteen years ago have shockingly better SFX than an episode created in 2021.

In conclusion, the show’s return on BBC is met with an anticipation for bigger and better production here on and it is this author’s hope that, with Russell T. Davies return as the showrunner for 2023 that these changes can be made. Myself, along with many others who I spoke to in writing this article, all hope that, come the next series, Doctor Who will be able to push its audiences to places they haven’t experienced before, as well recreate the level of engagement that Doctor Who once had with it audience.

Rating: 2/5

Iona Wagg is a MA Media, Culture & Society student, and a Media & Communications graduate interested in film, television, music, and the arts. You can find her on LinkedIn or over on Twitter: ionawagg

Leicester Student Magazine

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