14 – New Series One – Ncuti Gatwa

Return of Russell T. Davies

Early reviews of Ncuti

The Church on Ruby Road

A new Doctor is always exciting, and Ncuti seems to be off to a good start. Ruby Sunday was a baby given up as a foundling left on a church doorstep on Christmas Eve, and gets named Ruby because the church is on Ruby Road. She gets placed with a foster mother who ends up adopting her. She is one of 33 children that this mother has fostered, which reminds me of my own Great-Aunt Sadie, who also fostered numerous children. This Ruby is now a young lady, and she is plagued by accidents and bad luck, but we can see little hands involved in causing all of this. And somehow the Doctor is following her like he knows something is up. Her mother receives another baby on Christmas Eve 2023, but it is suddenly snatched by what are revealed to be Goblins, and taken up to their wooden ship which is sailing in the sky. So we are definitely in fantasy territory with this story, but Davies has hinted that they are part of the Toymaker’s “Legions”. The baby is going to be eaten by the Goblins, and a musical number breaks out. I’m not going to claim that this is one of the best Doctor Who stories ever, but it is energetic and moves right along. And as always, Russell T. Davies plants a mystery that will eventually pay off later in the series, in the form of a neighbor of Ruby’s, Mrs. Flood, who obviously knows what a TARDIS is, but we have no idea why or how. And I loved when the Doctor mentioned that he was adopted and never knew his parents. RTD is clearly building on the elements that Chibnall brought to the canon of Doctor Who. They look at all of the photos on the fridge of the 33 children, and the Doctor says that Ruby has the largest family in the world. And then she asks about his family. I think this theme of family may continue since it came up with the 14th Doctor previously. And I love how when Ruby is erased from history her Mom completely changes character. It very graphically portrays how in this case having Ruby as a daughter made her a better person.

All in all, a good but not great episode, but I am interested in seeing more. Ncuti is a breath of fresh air, and I think that is what they were going for. Millie is so far for me OK, but not yet equal to the great companions of previous series. Still, no one liked Donna Noble the first time, and she turned out to be great. But now we wait for the next episode.

Reviews and Extras

Space Babies

The Doctor tells Ruby that they can travel in time to anywhere, and they start out by traveling millions of years into the past to the time of the dinosaurs, which serves as the excuse for trotting out the old gag about stepping on a butterfly and changing the future. In case you didn’t know what started this, it was a short story by Ray Bradbury called A Sound of Thunder, and it is considered a classic in science fiction. But after surviving that very brief trip, they go into the future and find themselves on a space station, where they are attacked by a scary monster. They get away and take an elevator to a higher floor, where they find a group of babies who all can talk and zoom around in strollers. They investigate, and it turns out the parents have left them. The monster downstairs is what the babies call the Bogeyman, and it turns out that it is literally a snot monster. At the end, the Doctor gets serious and tells Ruby that there is one thing he can never do, and that is to take her back to the time she was abandoned at the Church on Ruby Road. He doesn’t directly mention the Reapers from Father’s Day. but he emphasizes just how bad the consequences would be.

This is a silly and lightweight story. Ncuti and Millie are great in it, but it will never be ranked among the “must see” shows in the Doctor Who canon.

Reviews and Extras

The Devil’s Chord

When the Doctor asks Ruby where she would like to go next, she says she would like to see the recording of the Beatles’ first album, so they go back to 1963, and go into what was then named the EMI studios, prior to becoming named Abbey Road. And they see the Beatles being recorded, but they are frankly awful. Then they go into another studio, where they see Cilla Black, and she is also awful. Finally they find an orchestra, and it is playing drivel. Something is clearly wrong with music, and when they go back to 2024, the world has been destroyed. This turns out to be the work of a character called Maestro, played by the drag queen Jinkx Monsoon, who now claims ownership of all music. They turn out to be the daughter of the Toymaker, and is one of the “legions” he promised would be coming. A musical battle commences, and the Maestro is finally defeated when two previously untalented musicians named John Lennon and Paul McCartney hit a specific chord that overcomes them. As they are taken away they warns about another from the legion who will be coming, so this will be the story arc for at least this season, if not for longer. Then a song and dance number ends the show.

This episode makes clear that the show is going in a very different direction yet again, and this will probably annoy a lot of people, and might be attractive to many others. As the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) said at the very end of his run, change has to happen. But in a rooftop scene, the Doctor points out that he is also on Totter’s Lane with his granddaughter Susan at this very moment, which makes sense since they are in 1963, and that is when Doctor Who first hit the air with the first Doctor and Susan. So we still have continuity here. Also, Maestro is literally Master in Italian.

BTW, the Devil’s Chord of the title is called technically a tri-tone, which is a pair of stacked thirds. The show says it was outlawed by the Church, but that is complete mythology, though many people will repeat it as Gospel. The Church didn’t go into musical analysis much.

Reviews and Extras

Boom

Reviews and Extras

73 Yards

Reviews and Extras

Dot and Bubble

Reviews and Extras

Rogue

Reviews and Extras

The Legend of Ruby Sunday

Reviews and Extras

Empire of Death

Reviews and Extras

Season 14 Overall

Reviews and Extras

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