Chapter One of Doctor Who: Flux has just landed. Here’s what we thought of The Halloween Apocalypse…
Naturally, spoilers follow.
Tony Jones: Definitely a lot better than I was afraid it might be, though I would have liked a bit more Doctor + Yaz before John Bishop gets introduced. The opening was too frenetic for my tastes and all to get the Doctor and Yaz riding on high-tech broomsticks for Halloween. I do find ‘super-alien from the dawn of time’ to be uninspiring. It’s hard to care about large scale epic threats (and it’s also territory well-explored by Marvel).
As to John Bishop, it’s too early to tell, but how many Liverpool references were needed? Was it a cram in the clichés competition? He did make a good counterpoint to the dog-alien Karvanista in his ‘not a Wookie, honest’ outfit. Outfit aside and over the top ‘we’re not dogs, just being man’s best friend in a crisis’ motive, he at least felt more flesh-out than some aliens tend to be.
What I did like was the slower paced, more thoughtful moments, top of which were the introduction of Claire and her well-crafted Weeping Angel sequence. She immediately had presence, and Annabel Scholey for me delivered the best performance of the show.
There’s enough story for what is essentially a set-the-arc episode, with lots of threads, some Sontarans and plenty of easter eggs to count (Nitro-9, Rose…). We also have the yet to be joined up Vinder (Jacob Anderson). And while I don’t like the Timeless Child concept, Chibnall has at least got the Doctor looking into it. If only she’d check to see if Gallifrey really is gone, or is it just a big elaborate Master hoax (and where is the Master in all this Chaos?).
Overall there’s a lot more plusses than minuses, but we won’t really know until we get to the end of this short series. At least this episode wasn’t a Halloween apocalypse!
Ian McArdell: Crikey – there was a lot going on, wasn’t there? Lots and lots of setup, hosts of new characters introduced… all a bit dizzying in truth. I’ll definitely be having a rewatch before next week — if nothing else, to catch all the 100 MPH dialogue.
First impressions of John Bishop’s Dan… he seems entertaining enough (and you can tell he’s a good ‘un because he works at a food bank — cue the tired complaints of woke and virtue signalling). What’s more important was seeing Yaz take the senior, more capable companion role. I’m also pleased to see the suggestion of a plentiful gap with her and the Doctor travelling together and squabbling (one for Big Finish to colonise in due course!).
It was tough to see the dog-like Karvanista as anything but cute, but he was engagingly gruff. As for Jacob Anderson’s Vinder, we hardly saw enough to make a judgement.
The shifting TARDIS door was interesting too — and our new pair of villains, Swarm and his sister certainly score on the creepy factor. Might they have been defeated by Jo Martin’s fugitive Doctor and, if so, is she due another appearance?
How the Weeping Angels and the Sontarans fit into the story still remains to be seen, bit I liked the retro-restyling of the latter
What impressed me most was the scope: it’s clear that Flux links back to the revelations of The Timeless Children, but there’s also a temporal element to the plot too — and certainly a significant threat. End of the universe, anyone? If the overall story can deliver on the promise of this opener, it might be something rather wonderful. It certainly looked great.
All in all, I’m hopeful — Doctor, it’s always good to have you back!
Doctor Who: Flux continues next week with War of the Sontarans!