Doctor Who Review – “The Doctor Falls”

Peter Capaldi’s last full season wraps up here. We’ll see him again in the Christmas special before he passes the torch. I’d be shocked if he’s replaced by a white male.

Cast and Crew

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Pearl Mackie as Bill
Matt Lucas as Nardole
Michelle Gomez as Missy
John Simm as Mr. Razor
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Cybermen
David Bradley as The Doctor

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

Original Airdate

The Doctor Falls originally aired on July 1, 2017.


Bill is one of a legion of Cyberman, and there are two Masters opposing the Doctor.

High Point

Every one of the five core characters (Doctor, Bill, Nardole, both Masters) have multiple moments to shine. There’s a whole lot of plot going on, but the characters are all at the centre of everything.

Low Point

We establish that a sufficiently violent death prevents regeneration moments before a far more violent end for a character who starts to regenerate. Really?

The Review

This is an original Cyberman story, an original Master story, and yet still an echo of the major events of the past. It’s a fine line to walk, but having so many echoes of the past does cut into the originality a little bit, even if it does boost the emotional response at the same time. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were generally well done. Not perfect (where’s the debris from the barn wall?) but certainly very good for a BBC TV budget and a script of this scale. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story serves as a very nice button to end the stories for all of these characters but one, and we can clearly expect that to come at Christmas. It was all about the characters, but gave them their moments in plot-important ways, so the episode still feels like it’s moving forward. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting was excellent. Pearl Mackie has moments to really shine. If this is what she can do with a resume this short, I expect to see a LOT more of her in the coming years and decades. Every cast member is pitch perfect, in fact. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is great, with a very engaging story being told today combined with great references to the past. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production has been consistently great this year. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an episode so good that I don’t want to write about it in detail because I don’t want to spoil anything that we didn’t already know when the season began. It’s one of the strongest season enders we’ve had. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, The Doctor Falls receives 40 out of 42.

12 replies on “Doctor Who Review – “The Doctor Falls””

  1. The show restored its game with these last two episodes. If the situation with Bill revisits something that happened to a previous companion (though they give themselves some wiggle room to bring Bill back), the Masters tourneying against each other gave us a somewhat original and unexpected conclusion (well, maybe) for the character.

    We have some clever lines and an interesting epilogue, albeit one that was spoiled online some time ago.

    I’m looking forward to the Christmas Episode.

  2. Addressing the low point: That one whose regeneration you allege should have been prevented by a sufficiently violent end was actually *already* regenerating but was holding the change off by sheer force of will. Also, it looked like there was a bit of a kickstart that got things moving, courtesy of a particularly fun chekhov’s gun ex machina. It *has* been established previously that regeneration can be kickstarted by external agencies (Sisterhood of Karn, the Time Lords themselves). Finally, a certain weapon was almost certainly designed with gallifreyan physiology in mind whereas more mundane violence likely wasn’t.

    • It was also established earlier this season that it is possible to prevent regeneration in order to kill a timelord; the necessary steps (and possibly some compassionate overkill) were spelled out just before Missy’s planned execution – rather neatly both setting up and foreshadowing events in this episode. If you accept that it needs to be a more targetted process, then the degree of violence becomes moot – without specifically inhibiting the regeneration process, which was presumably the case with The Master’s attack on Missy, you’re going to get a regeneration.

  3. “I’d be shocked if he’s replaced by a white male.” Yeah, I suspect that’s going to be the case as well, although I am still expecting a male Doctor rather than a female one, at least this time around. The show to date has relied a lot on the relationship between a male Doctor and (mostly) female companions because the the opposing genders and mindsets can be played on in any number of ways, so making The Doctor female will require some structural changes. Changes that, whether by reversing the gender dynamic or by making it female-female, might please one group of fans immensely, but I suspect would be poorly received by a far larger group of purists and adolescent males.

    We’re getting a new show-runner (and several other changes to the production team), a new Doctor, new companion(s), and can probably expect a different overall feel and style to the show as well. Chances are pretty good that the new team will be around for a few regenerations, so why rush into basically rebooting the entire show into something else and risk trashing the already dwinding UK viewing figures? Done right, a female Doctor could work brilliantly and provide a completely fresh feel to the show, done badly – or prematurely – and it could alienate a lot of viewers the show can’t really afford to lose. Far better, I think, to get the new team settled with at least some of the show’s staple element still in place and lead up to the more drastic changes a season (and possible a Doctor) or two down the road.

    • Indeed. The current team has done a lot of the ground work necessary by establishing that the gender change is possible. They’ve show it happening on Gallifrey and they’ve also tested the water with the Doctor’s best frenemy. On the flip side, they have also established that time lords can have a strong gender preference. I think we need at least one more iteration and a bit more ground work before making a switch like that, though. I think the audience needs a bit more time to get used to the notion of a time lord changing genders and the idea that the Doctor might do so at some point. And they also need to get the *right* actress to take on the challenge, which may be more challenging than getting the fanbase to accept a female Doctor.

      Personally, regardless who it turns out to be, I’m hoping for a really good next Doctor who sticks around for more than 3 seasons. I do have some high hopes given that a lot of the baggage accumulated since 2005 has been resolved sufficiently that it can live on the back burner while the new team and cast are getting settled.

    • No.. not ready for a female Doctor. Not sure I ever will be.
      And it has nothing to do with male vs female, the Doctor just “feels” male.

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