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(Review) Doctor Who: The Giggle

After over a year of waiting, the Doctor Who 60th anniversary celebration is complete, and it was marvelous.  Seeing the Doctor and Donna Noble reunite after 15 years was moving right from start, largely because David Tennant and Catherine Tate have incredible chemistry.  The specials had several objectives:  1) Pay tribute to our favorite Time Lord and to say thank you for everything so far.  2) Explain why the 10th Doctor's face returned.  3) Launch the Ncuti Gatwa era. 

"The Giggle" accomplishes all three in a breathtaking fashion.

Warning:  Major spoilers ahead.

The story picks up right where "Wild Blue Yonder" left off last week.  The one major disappointment is that we don't see any more of Wilf.  It turns out his scene last week was all Bernard Cribbins was able to film before his passing in 2022.  However, it is made clear that Wilfred Mott makes it through this adventure safe and sound. (Any other outcome would have been unthinkable.)

The Doctor and Donna must find out why almost everyone on Earth has gone mad in the past two days.  UNIT is involved, which sees the welcome return of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, as well as former companion Melanie Bush.  It is a tribute to Bonnie Langford and David Tennant that you immediately believe these two have known each other forever.

It turns out that people have lost their minds since complete global Internet connection was established two days earlier.  Everyone immediately thinks they're right about everything, and they're angry at anyone who disagrees with them.  This is somewhat the fault of the Toymaker, but as the Doctor points out, humans also share blame for the problem.  (Russell T. Davies is not at all subtle about the point he's making regarding toxic online behavior, with a dash of anti-vax conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.)

As far as the Toymaker goes, he is a terrific choice to play the villain here.  Longtime fans know about his battle with the 1st Doctor, but he's a new face to the majority of current viewers.  That old/new split is a strong theme this week.  Can't say we're huge fans of actor Neil Patrick Harris, and his performance as the being from outside reality is mixed, especially when it comes to his accent, which is all over the place.  However the character makes sense in this context.

The 14th Doctor is exhausted, and Donna has repeatedly tried to get him to slow down, but running is all he knows.  David Tennant gives #14 the weariness of a figure who is a billion years old, and Catherine Tate does a lovely job of trying to help her best friend.  There couldn't have been a better pairing for this trilogy.

The Doctor and Donna visit the Toymaker's store, and the subsequent sequence has a strong fantasy feel to it.  Russell T. Davies indicated this is the start of a new direction for the show.  Bring it on.

We thought there might be some other cameos, but they never happened.  However, there is a lot of name-dropping which adds to the sense of the Doctor's sadness and exhaustion.  The fact that he has continued on for so long after so much loss is the epitome of resilience.  However, a steep price has been paid.

There's a musical number at one point, and you know what?  It works.  The strangeness of the whole scene adds to the fantasy vibe, and you start to feel the new era creeping into the picture. 

Okay friends, we're going to talk about the ending now.  If you don't want to know about it, close this post...Here we go...

The rumors were true:  The 14th Doctor doesn't regenerate into the 15th.  They split into two different versions of the Time Lord.  We read the online speculation before this, but to see it actually happen was a jaw-dropping moment.  We finally know why #15 asked, "Can someone tell me what the hell is going on here?"  We had the same question.

It's still not clear why it happened.  Maybe the series will come back to that, maybe not.  However, as #15 and Donna point out, this means #14 finally has the chance to stop running and instead rest with her and her family.  He's earned that opportunity a million times over, and it's finally here.  As she puts it, the return of his face, and his reunion with her are a sign that he can finally come home.  It's a line which hits like a sledgehammer.  #15 works out how to also duplicate the TARDIS, so #14 will still be able to travel, but it's time for one of them to take a break while the other flies off to new adventures.

After all this time, the Doctor finally has a family again.  There can be no greater celebration of his legacy at this point than to give him that happiness.

A quick note about Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor.  It's so exciting to get to see him in action for 10+ minutes, just so we can get a stronger sense of what to expect in the future.  The man radiates charisma and joy, and you can feel the passing of the torch when he and Tennant hug to say goodbye. 

"The Giggle" is a roller-coaster of emotions and wonderful storytelling.  It's a thoughtful ending to one chapter, while being an exciting start to the next. 

See you again on Christmas!


Doctor Who The Giggle RegenerationThings go a little differently this time.  (pic via




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