Doctor Who: Flux – Additional Thoughts on That Awful Series 13 Mess

The BBC's Doctor Who: Flux is over, and how many of us are feeling relieved? Is this the first time watching a season of Doctor Who feels like a chore? It's like an obligation while we wait for Russell T. Davies to come back and right the ship.

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"Doctor Who: Flux", image: BBC

These are my final thoughts on the season:

It's quite a feat to have a season finale to a show, any show, where nothing made sense. Every plot point felt arbitrary, and no matter how much the characters stood there explaining to us what was happening, it still didn't make any sense. Why is this happening? Because PLOT! That's how it's been all season.

This is a 3-Doctor crossover and ALL of them are Jodie Whittaker, which is the least of this season's problems. At least she's fun to watch even if it's incomprehensible. It even echoes the original "The Three Doctors" by having 2 of them talk to the 3rd one remotely. You just wish she had scripts by Davies or Steven Moffat instead of Chris Chibnall. This finale gives Whittaker's Doctor more to say and do than her entire previous run of episodes put together. It's like Chibnall finally remembered a show called "Doctor Who" should actually be about the Doctor.

A whole species of Lupar, those heroic poodles, are rendered extinct just in dialogue. A whole bunch of people we never saw are killed off-screen. Somehow, we feel nothing.

The "plottiness" of this season and finale is closer to a 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee) era story. It looks like Chibnall's favourite era is the 3rd Doctor era. It's all plot. He loves to kill supporting characters gratuitously and it doesn't even serve the plot, much like the Pertwee era. Kill someone gratuitously to show how bad the baddies are. Professor Jericho's death is the most pointless ever on this show – he just somehow drops his teleporter ring? Really? You can tell how plot-fixated a screenwriter is (that's at least 90% of them) by how casually they kill side characters.

The 3rd Doctor era also cemented the convention of the characters standing around explaining the plot to each other (and the audience) in tech gobbledegook that still doesn't make any more sense when it's explained. There has been way too much of that in Doctor Who: Flux. That's the worst excess of Doctor Who writing through every era. Some did it better than others. This season does it worse than all the others. A cast full of very good actors can only do so much with the scripts they're given.

Chibnall has that 70s TV writer's refusal to give the audience any payoff to long-running mysteries. He also teases a Doctor-Yaz stan as a total tease without crossing to the outright kiss that every lesbian fan was screaming for. Come to think of it, the new show has shown men kissing but stayed away from women kissing.

Time as the ultimate enemy is a concept taken from Sapphire and Steel, but Chibnall has to make it more literal by making Time an actual person who speaks.

"No more regenerations" means Chibnall is setting up for Davies to reboot the show.

Oh wait, there are 3 more Chibnall specials where we have to watch him Chibnall his way through the rest of Whittaker's run.

Aaaaand the New Year's Special is a "Groundhog Day" time-loop story with Daleks. The "Groundhog Day" plot trope is the last resort of TV writers who have run out of ideas. It was fresh in the 1990s, now every single genre show has to have a "Groundhog Day" episode. Russell T. Davies can't return fast enough.

Doctor Who: Flux is on BBC America if you want to put yourself through all that.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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