Wild Blue Yonder Is An Instant Doctor Who Classic
If Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder had been a novelization, it would be in my top ten favorite Doctor Who stories across any season, with any Doctor. Full stop. I love it when Doctor Who leans into horror and the weirder side of the universe. I love what’s essentially a closed-room mystery with a creative solution at the end. And my preference for cosmic horror is well-documented, and this is pure cosmic horror.
But wow, it is hard to get past some of the special effects in this one. The CGI isn’t just clunky; it’s distracting. Scenes that are supposed to be horrific and startling are goofy. From the moment they stepped into the very long hallway, my expectations sank. At one point, I thought maybe the floor was real, but that’s all I’m confident about. And then there’s the body horror/monster stuff not landing, which is much worse for the storytelling side. David Tennant (or a body double) running at Donna/Catherine—while doing a contortionist move—threw my immersion right out the window for a while there, and the less said about the hand effects, the better.
Only About 25% Of The Special Effects Look Good
But, again, nearly everything else is so good. Since they decided to bring back a beloved companion duo, it only seems fitting to give the two of them a whole episode by themselves to bounce off one another, and the result is scene after scene of incredible acting. The idle banter is organic and playful. The emotional conversations are engrossing and stunningly acted. And then there’s the scene that floored me. It’s the best suspense in the episode; it’s some of the best acting moments. I won’t spoil it, but once Donna walked into the water pipe room, I knew I was in for something special.
Wild Blue Yonder also did a lot to counteract my frustrations with the overabundance of plot convenience in The Star Beast. That thing with the London streets healing still irks me. By my count, Wild Blue Yonder only pulls two obviously cheap tricks to get the characters out of danger—and only the rotating panel thing seemed out of place. The T.A.R.D.I.S. is always a McGuffin. And, before you say it, yes, sure, the salt thing was a little convenient, and really, any plotline that involves mind-reading and time travel is going to have a hard time justifying how characters trick one another, but mostly everything holds together. The mysteries, the solutions, the twists: my suspension of disbelief was maintained, and the ending was satisfying. Wild Blue Yonder kept the technobabble low, the stakes high, and didn’t “bisect a spaceship” for some reason.
Wild Blue Yonder Is A Shockingly Efficient Mystery
That said, this episode does have a slight wrinkle to its plot I hadn’t expected: it references specific stuff from Jodie’s time as the Doctor. And I didn’t watch all of those seasons. I liked Jodie’s performance, and some of the early episodes were fun, especially “Kerblam!” but I fell off after “The Witchfinders,” and I don’t know much about what “The Flux” was. There’s enough context given—much like how the Time War is talked about—for it to not be confusing, but if you’re planning on watching the upcoming season, you and I might have some homework to handle.
As to this episode, because Wild Blue Yonder is built on suspense and surprises, one even being extremely heartwarming, there’s not a lot else to say in a review. I want you, dear reader, to go into this with as few spoilers as possible. Avoid social media at all costs. It’s better to see this fresh. Sure, it might have a few missteps (you can’t know a person’s pronouns if they’re dead and there are no personal records to check), and maybe there’s one too many scenes repeating the same dramatic scenario in a row (some happen within minutes of each other), but I meant what I said about it being an all-timer in the story department. Wild Blue Yonder is genuinely scary at times, paced incredibly well, and is a delight for anyone who likes this companion/Doctor duo. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, you’re in for a treat.
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