Debating Doctor Who

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  • Episode 137: “Resolution”

    Episode 137: “Resolution”


    We finally did it! We've talked about every new series Doctor Who episode! After a couple cameos (or maybe that's Cameos) to open the episode, Alasdair and Allison discuss the 13th Doctor's New Year's Day clash with a lone Dalek. We felt deeply meh about this episode when it first aired back in 2019, but coming back to it now? Dang, we actually kind of love it. We discuss how this might be the best story Chris Chibnall has written during his tenure as showrunner, and how it feels different from really anything in either series 11 or series 12. We were so pleasantly surprised by this one, folks. Better late than never, we guess.

  • Episode 136: Live Discussion of Companions, the Master, and More!

    Episode 136: Live Discussion of Companions, the Master, and More!


    We're back for another live show, and we might even have a surprise visit from the podcast's best friend. Which is to say, we totally do! The Captain Jack of the podcast is on hand, in the form of the great Kate Kulzick. She pops by for a spell to help discuss how the different showrunners approach the lives of the companions, and why one thing the Chibnall era has going for it is how real the companions' situations feel relative to, well, definitely the Moffat era companions. But what of the RTD companions? Then Allison and Alasdair discuss whether the Master could, in fact, be the Timeless Child, which leads to one hell of a lore dump about the Master. Then Alasdair cracks a listener riddle, and we offer a whole bunch of recommendations of other shows and movies featuring Doctors, companions, and more!

  • Episode 135: Live show this Saturday! Plus Doctors’ other performances…

    Episode 135: Live show this Saturday! Plus Doctors’ other performances…


    That's right, we're doing another live show! It's 1 p.m. Eastern this Saturday, May 9, and it will be at We hope you'll come join us for it! After sharing those details, Alasdair does some more solo riffing about something that's been on their mind recently, which is performances by actors who played the Doctor that show hints of the Time Lord to come. There are some general thoughts about David Tennant's work on Blackpool and Casanova, the time Rufus Hound kinda sorta spoiled Peter Capaldi's casting as the Doctor, and where one might look for hints of the War Doctor in John Hurt's legendary filmography. More to come on this, probably!

  • Episode 134: “The Return Of Doctor Mysterio”

    Episode 134: “The Return Of Doctor Mysterio”


    Announcement! We have a live show this Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern! We hope you'll come join us! As for what we have this week, yep, we *finally* got round to this episode. Only took us three and a half years! But first, we read a little excerpt from Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat interviewing each other in Doctor Who Magazine, and pay a little tribute to Davies's brilliance in reimagining the show back in 2005. Then, we launch into our discussion of the 12th Doctor's penultimate Christmas special. We generally like this one a lot, though we do look at some pretty basic ways the story doesn't do right by its sole female character, which, yeah, that sounds familiar. Beyond that, we find a lot to praise, especially in the plotting and the performances and the general warm feelings it elicits. You'll be shocked--shocked!--to hear we say a lot of really nice things about Peter Capaldi. Some things never change...

  • Episode 133: Impromptu David Tennant Appreciation Week!

    Episode 133: Impromptu David Tennant Appreciation Week!


    No two ways about it: This is one of our loosest, silliest episodes in a while. We start out with some vaguely structured discussion of some Doctor Who current events, but pretty soon we go into an extended discussion of David Tennant's work on DuckTales, and more specifically his work with the rest of the cast in singing the DuckTales theme song. (Look it up on YouTube if you haven't seen it, it's a real delight.) We talk about David Tennant for long enough in this one I'm declaring this an impromptu appreciation week for him, even if we don't actually have much to say about the 10th Doctor in all this! We also take an old but excellent email about watching the show with a child, which leads to us sharing the very specific nightmare fuel of our youth, among other things. Also! Next week, it's finally happening: We're talking "The Return Of Doctor Mysterio"!

  • Episode 132: “Farewell, Sarah Jane” and Mailbag Questions

    Episode 132: “Farewell, Sarah Jane” and Mailbag Questions


    We start by discussing the latest Doctor Who: Lockdown production, a moving epilogue to The Sarah Jane Adventures and tribute to Elisabeth Sladen, who died nine years ago today. Then we tackle a pair of emails from listeners. First up, do the Cybermen work as monsters without a mouthpiece, and why does it always seem to be the Master these days? Then, we take another look at that infamous bit from "Spyfall: Part Two".

  • Episode 131: Live Discussion of Doctor Who: Lockdown!, the 11th Doctor, and more

    Episode 131: Live Discussion of Doctor Who: Lockdown!, the 11th Doctor, and more


    We went live on Crowdcast for this one, with 30 of our listeners there live to chat and ask questions. We start by looking at the various little goodies that have come out as part of the Doctor Who: Lockdown! series, including the just-released video message with Arthur Darvill as Rory. We then take some questions from the audience, including which Doctor Who stories are the most comforting and then a big discussion about something we've been kind of sidelong alluding to for a while: The 11th Doctor became increasingly problematic (yeah, yeah, kind of an empty word, but bear with us) over the course of his run. We try to define what we actually mean by that and dig into what we think went wrong with the character. All our friends in the audience helped a lot with a bunch of trenchant insights! This was just generally a total blast to do, and we look forward to seeing you all again for another one of these soon...

  • Episode 130: Live episode this Saturday! Plus a 10th Anniversary tribute to “The Beast Below”

    Episode 130: Live episode this Saturday! Plus a 10th Anniversary tribute to “The Beast Below”


    Yes, we're going to attempt a live episode this Saturday! It's at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time and will be hosted at -- checkout the link for some early signup information. We'll be discussing whatever we want, honestly, but our theoretical topic is all the little goodies showrunners past and present have been putting out for Doctor Who: Lockdown! And then, even though it's just Alasdair, we have somehow have a full 30 minutes of episode devoted to that most auspicious of occasions: The 10th anniversary of "The Beast Below." Alasdair dives into a bunch of thoughts as to why the second adventures for new series Doctors always visit the future, and what is meaningful and applicable about the 11th Doctor and Amy's adventure to our present moment.

  • Episode 129: “The Timeless Children” Redux

    Episode 129: “The Timeless Children” Redux


    Last time, we never really got into a proper discussion of a pretty key aspect of "The Timeless Children": Namely, the whole timeless child thing. Well, this episode is nothing but a big discussion of just what that revelation means, what it says, and what it ought to say. We didn't expect to have as much to say about this as we ended up saying! Plus we have some quick thoughts about all the little goodies showrunners past and present are making as part of Doctor Who: Lockdown! Also, next week we're going to do a live episode for folks to join us as we record -- look out for a mini episode sometime in the coming days to announce when and (virtually) where it's happening.

  • Episode 128: “The Timeless Children”

    Episode 128: “The Timeless Children”


    So, yeah... it's been a few weeks, huh? Better late than never, we hope, as Alasdair and Allison finally get round to discussing the most recent season finale. We didn't love this one, and we try to get into some detail about why... so much so that after an hour and 45 minutes of discussion we still hadn't really gotten into the, you know, Timeless Child stuff. Lore will just have to wait for next time, but for now we've got an episode to discuss, darn it! Also, Sacha Dhawan, if you're listening: First of all, hello. Second of all, you're going to like what we have to say here. Let's get into it.

  • Episode 127: “Ascension Of The Cybermen”

    Episode 127: “Ascension Of The Cybermen”


    You know, it's kinda funny: We liked this episode quite a bit overall, but also we had a lot to say about what didn't work. The middle bit, mostly. Also, the guest characters were pretty thin. And hey, what do you think is going on with Brendan? Or the Cybermen, for that matter? We honestly have no idea, and *that* is the main reason that, for all its faults, we come away pretty satisfied with this one.

  • Episode 126: “The Haunting Of Villa Diodati”

    Episode 126: “The Haunting Of Villa Diodati”


    It's a big historical episode with Romantics galore and Cybermen aplenty... well, one Cyberman, but trust us, he's a lot. This episode was frequently all Allison could ever possibly want, and Alasdair generally liked it a lot too. Well, except one bit. There's a very low-key kinda rant coming about one key moment. So yes, there's some debating in this episode, in our annual reminder of what, you know, the podcast is actually called, but mostly we're here to admire Jodie Whittaker's terrific work and marvel at just how much Lord Byron is Lord Byron in this.

  • Standalone Minisode: Some Thoughts on Gender Identity

    Standalone Minisode: Some Thoughts on Gender Identity


    The final 20 or so minutes of today's episode are devoted to an introspective, still somehow Doctor Who-related commentary on gender identity from Alasdair, who recently updated their pronouns to publicly acknowledge that either "he" or "they" are correct. While this segment is also available on the full episode, if anyone wants to hear Alasdair's thoughts in a more standalone sort of way, we wanted to share this part separately. So here's one person offering their perspective on gender, how it exists in society, and how Doctor Who helped them think about it more personally. (Sidebar: I, Alasdair, write all these show notes, and this is the first time I've used "they" to refer to myself. It's a trip, not going to lie!)

  • Episode 125: “Can You Hear Me?”

    Episode 125: “Can You Hear Me?”


    Content Warning: This episode discusses topics around self-harm and suicidal ideation in the context of this week's story. For those sensitive to those topics, we recommend skipping the section from 1:04:45 to 1:19:45. In today's epic-length episode, we look at "Can You Hear Me?" in all its strange, often wonderful glory. We look at how the story explores the inner lives of all the companions, and just how much fun this is for anyone keeping track of Doctor Who's myriad immortals. (Alasdair waves hello.) We also devote the final portion of the show to something more personal, as Alasdair discusses his--or, as of last week, also their--gender identity and how Doctor Who was so meaningful to the questions they are starting to ask. (Note: For those just interested in that discussion, we're also putting it out as a separate minisode.)

  • Episode 124: “Praxeus”

    Episode 124: “Praxeus”


    We meet back up to discuss "Praxeus"... by first talking some more about "Fugitive Of The Judoon", and how it reminds us of "Utopia." You know, the way one does. Anyway, we do spend a lot of time discussing how "Praxeus" is a solid episode with some significant shortcomings. We look at how the show is still figuring out how to divide its attentions between lots of different characters. We explain why this is a stronger environmental message than similar material in "Orphan 55", and just generally how Doctor Who can't help but reference itself. Also, what *is* going on with Yaz? 

  • Episode 123: “Fugitive Of The Judoon”

    Episode 123: “Fugitive Of The Judoon”


    You know it's a big episode when we post a new episode mere hours after the premiere. And, yeah, this was a big one. A really big one. One so big that the return of a beloved character after nearly a decade barely rates a mention. That big. Look, no time to waste on preamble. Let's just get to it.

  • Episode 122: “Nicola Tesla’s Night of Terror”

    Episode 122: “Nicola Tesla’s Night of Terror”


    Just in time for this week’s episode, we check in with a look at last week’s episode. We generally liked this one a lot as a fun romp with some lovely performances, particularly from Goran Vsijnic as the titular guest star. That said, we spent a decent amount of time looking at how a very good episode like this could have made that last push into greatness. Generally, it’s all about sharpening ideas and thinking through its politics more deeply.

  • Episode 121: “Orphan 55”

    Episode 121: “Orphan 55”


    Allison is busy being a cool person in California, so who should join Alasdair to discuss "Orphan 55" but the great Caroline Siede? Yup, the original duo are back to talk about why this episode had some definite potential but just really didn't work. We dig into how the episode has more ideas and more characters than what it knows what to do with, and how oddly empty the big twist--of about three big twists--ends up feeling. We make a bunch of comparisons to Davies-era episodes, including a very rude comparison to "Midnight" that Alasdair recognizes is going to be deeply unfair to pretty much any episode. We cover a lot of ground here as to why this episode typifies things the Chibnall era is still trying to figure out about itself, and what it already is making good progress on... starting with the Doctor herself.

  • Episode 120: “Spyfall: Part Two”

    Episode 120: “Spyfall: Part Two”


    We take a look at the second half of the series-opening two-parter. There's a lot we love about this episode, which builds on the promise of the preceding hour. There's also one really, really awful moment in the show's treatment of the Master and his race that we spend a lot of time discussing, because it deserves a long look at just how jarringly bad it is. We're still pretty sure we like this one, overall, but wow does the cognitive dissonance get tricky at points. Is this selling the episode well? Maybe just give a listen and see what you think...

  • Episode 119: “Spyfall, Part One”

    Episode 119: “Spyfall, Part One”


    At long last, Doctor Who is really, properly back! We both had a blast watching this episode, even before all that went down in the final few minutes. (We're trying to be vague out of some mild respect for the especially spoiler-averse.) We talk about how this represents a much-needed step in the right direction for the show, if only because it injects some much-needed fun into the proceedings. We look at how this story handles the Doctor, among other characters, and how we're hoping the show can build on this very promising premiere. Look, we can't say much more without talking about... well, you probably know. Let's get into it.

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