Doctor Who: Flux Found Ways to Waste So Many Doctor/Yaz Possibilities
The BBC either seems intent on torturing us with more clips videos of Doctor Who: Flux, or they're just running out of themed clips to put out to promote the upcoming Special. This time, it's clips of the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Yaz (Mandip Gil), and it shows how it wastes the two characters and the actors playing them. It's also another great lesson in How Not to Write Scripts.
Let's be clear: showrunner Chris Chibnall's first two seasons of Doctor Who were not terrible. They had potential, and viewers were treated to fairly adequate, sometimes decent episodes while waiting for the show to finally take off and reach the heights of surprise, insight, high concepts, and emotions that made Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat's runs so beloved. There was the hope that Chibnall and Whittaker's third and final season would finally do that. Unfortunately, we got Flux instead. Like acid reflux.
Whittaker and Gil have had good chemistry and are often more fun in the goofy behind-the-scenes videos for the Doctor Who channel than they ever got to be on the show. They could have carried the show as a bickering couple fighting SciFi baddies. Instead, the scripts have them spouting boring exposition explaining things they already know to the audience. Then the villains show up to spout some boring exposition explaining the plot to everyone, which amounts to meaningless gobbledygook. It's the stereotype of what haters of Science Fiction, Doctor Who, and comic books have always believed the show to be. In Chibnall's Science Fiction universe, the villains can win by boring everyone to death with tedious exposition.
What Bad "Doctor Who" Teaches US
You could say Chibnall had fallen back to what Doctor Who was about in the 1970s, when it was about the plots and the monsters while character moments were sandwiched in, but there are plenty of hints that Chibnall was far more interested and comfortable writing Dan Lewis (John Walsh), a kind, slightly-bumbling, middle-aged man trying to do the right thing. Every scene with Dan felt more authentic and heartfelt than any scene that he wasn't in. It was Whittaker who saw the fanfic about a Doctor and Yaz romance and suggested to Chibnall that they should have that in the show. Rather than play that as the heartbreaking core of the show as Davies and Moffat would have, Chibnall tiptoes around it and tosses in Yaz mooning after the absent Doctor as an afterthought, all too little too late.
These videos are actually valuable lessons for screenwriting students as "How Not to Do It." Even as audio plays, the expositional dialogue is on-the-nose and often meaningless when there's no real emotional intent behind it. It's bad comic book writing where only the villain gets to deliver it with mwah-hah-hah "see how evil I am" banality. Perhaps Doctor Who: Flux will be considered the Wasted Season Scuppered by Lockdown Madness during the weird time we were all living in. Onwards to a better show, hopefully.
Doctor Who is on HBO Max in the US. For now.