Chris Chibnall’s ‘Doctor Who’ episodes so far – ranked from worst to best

2018 sees big change ahead for Doctor Who, with current showrunner Steven Moffat handing over the reins to Chris Chibnall, the award-winning writer behind Broadchurch, Law & Order UK and Torchwood.

Of course, Who fans will no doubt tell you that this won’t be Chibnall’s first dalliance with the Time Lord.

With five episodes already under his belt since 2007 (not including online webisodes and Torchwood episodes), Chibnall is already well versed in the Whoniverse.

But which tale ranks as his best so far? And do any of them indicate just what tone or direction he’ll take the show in?

 

5. ‘The Hungry Earth’ (2010)

Doctor Who Matt Smith the Hungry Earth Eleventh

The first instalment of Chibnall’s Season 5 two-parter starts strong. The central conceit of the ground swallowing up people is scary enough to ensure kids will be afraid to leave the house and the newly realised Silurians are a credible menace (alas not as visually interesting as their 70’s counterparts).

The night-time graveyard scenes especially highlight their power and effectiveness as a real threat, whilst the idea of the Silurians vivisecting humans whilst they are awake is a truly nasty idea. Chibnall truly has a talent for horror.

But sadly, it’s an episode obsessed with setting up the second part, building to a rather limp cliffhanger that hardly screams ‘come back next week’. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the ideas explored here were previously explored in the Silurian’s first appearance way back in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970). Great for younger viewers, but frustrating for fans.

 

4. ‘The Power of Three’ (2012)

Doctor Who Brian Power of Three

Great as 2012’s brief run of Doctor Who was, there was the nagging feeling that the Ponds were under-utilised dramatically for what was their final few adventures (they departed in the episode after this one in ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’).

But for their penultimate adventure, Chibnall wisely placed them front and centre, weaving a tale that starts to bring their story full circle, offering a glimpse into their doubts and worries as companions to the Doctor, and pondering whether they have grown out of adventuring with him.

The alien threat is more of an afterthought really and the worldwide stakes are never really convincing, but this matters very little when the character development is so good.

Amy, Rory, Rory’s dad Brian and the newly-introduced Kate Stewart all get time to shine amongst the sci-fi goings-on, setting things up nicely for big emotional moments in future episodes. Like his work on Broadchurch, Chibnall delivers solid character drama all tied up in a high concept package and tackles the real life implications of the Ponds’ TARDIS travels in more depth than their entire run thus far.

 

3. ‘Cold Blood’ (2010)

Doctor Who Cold Blood

The conclusion to 2010’s Silurian two-parter is an improvement on it’s opening episode, but slows to a crawl early on as we’re subjected to scenes of diplomatic debates between humans and reptiles. But above ground, desperate mother Ambrose gives in to her fear and hatred, delivering a big emotional twist that sets up a climactic final act.

Here, Chibnall relishes the chance to deliver seismic events that will have major repercussions for the main characters by the time the season finale rolls around.

The death of Rory is shocking stuff (remember, at this point, we weren’t to know this would become a running gag!), and his erasure from time and Amy’s memories is just as heartbreaking. The timey-wimey element of having old Amy and Rory watching from afar is paid off beautifully, and the big revelation of the TARDIS exploding is a fantastic cliffhanger to leave us on.

‘Cold Blood’ may not be the most original or enjoyable Silurian story ever made, but in terms of its characters and story arc elements, it shows just how talented Chibnall is at juggling multiple plot strands and tying them together, something he’ll need to do as showrunner

 

Continued on next page…

  • Shevy_B

    To say I’m a little worried for Chibnall’s takeover is an understatement. None of those episodes are stand outs, if anything they’re on the bad side. Hungry Earth/Cold Blood I can barely watch without falling asleep. Power of Three had good potential but fell flat. Matt Smith’s speach about Earth being ‘One Corner of a Galaxy’ was amazing. But the ending was confusing. Why was one of the power stations in a hospital in the first place? What was up the power station being a little girl? Did the girl sleep in the hospital? Did no one notice a little girl LIVING IN THE HOSPITAL? Then we get to 42. I acctually kind’ve liked this episode. No, it’s not a standout episode; but it’s not terrible either. I can see how people dislike 42, though. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship needs a better title. Period. How Moffat didn’t say “Chris, you need to rename this” is a mystery to me. But besides the TERRIBLE title (I mean, it says everything about the episode in four words) it was OK. I hated Nefertiti and whoever that hunter dude was (I forget his name). I think the episode could’ve worked without them. Brian is great though. I LOOOOOVE Brian. I could watch a whole episode with no one but Brian. The robots were a little annoying in the episode as well, but the special effects are fantastic. They acctually look like dinosaurs!

  • Dr. Moo

    • 42 – Stupid real-time gimmick, BMovie-style villain, Tennant at his hammiest. 1/10
    • The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood – This could’ve been great but the basic fundamentals of the story had been done before, and better, back in Jon Pertwee’s first season and the pacing is far, far too slow. It has no reason to be a two-parter. 4/10
    • Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – The best of the four but it suffers from some jarring tonal shifts and questionable attempts (Key word: Attempts) at comedy. At least it had David Bradley in it, so there’s that. 5/10
    • The Power of Three – Poor pacing and lots of plot issues dragged this one down but I liked the concept of the Doctor trying to stay behind on Earth but struggling to do so. The fact that making it was a production nightmare shows horribly. 4/10

    Since I define not liking a story as being 3/10 or lower he’s only had one truly bad Doctor Who story so far. That said, he’s yet to write a truly good one either. To say I’m worried about hm taking over doesn’t do my true feelings justice, but I’ll lower my expectations and see what he can do when he takes over. Maybe he’ll surprise me by writing something good…

    • JOHNBOY!

      All are pretty poor aren’t they? I agree with your assessments and scoring. It sounds like you’ve got a clear and well thought-out ratings system in place!

      • Dr. Moo

        10/10 = Masterpiece (eg. Listen, Inferno)
        8-9/10 = Excellent (eg. The Day of the Doctor, Earthshock)
        6-7/10 = Good (eg. School Reunion, The Five Doctors)
        4-5/10 = Passable but forgettable (eg. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, Castrovalva)
        2-3/10 = Bad (eg. Voyage of the Damned, Timelash)
        1/10 = Utter garbage (eg. 42, Time & the Rani)
        0/10 = Irredeemable steaming pile of (eg. The End of Time, The Twin Dillemma)
        -/10 = So bad it gets a negative rating and only people who are sent to hell must endure it (Love & Monsters gets exclusivity to this category)

        • Hime732

          8-9? Is it 8 or 9? 6-7? Is it more 6 or 7? You make your 5 sound more like a 7.

          You’ve got an 8 point scale going on here.

          So the distribution is equally expressible as:
          3/8
          5/8
          5/8
          5/8

          • Dr. Moo

            It’s out of ten, not eight. 8 is not 10, 10 is not 8. An 8 or 9 out of 10 is excellent, a 6 or 7 out of 10 is good, etc.
            It’s not hard to follow the system… unless you’re out to pick holes for no particular reason.
            I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that’s not what you’re doing. 🙂

          • Hime732

            You just did it again. You said an 8 and a 9 are the same. Now I can accept you have a distinct difference in mind between what constitutes an 8/10 and what constitutes a 9/10, but since you haven’t mentioned that difference, I don’t really read its weight.

          • Hime732

            What is the difference between a 6/10 and a 7/10?

    • Alex Thornton

      Agreed Dr Moo. Can only hope …

  • Edward Delingford

    What a bunch of tedious mediocrity. None of these have anything interesting to say, terrible dialogue, dull, dull unoriginal storylines, plodding pace and so beige and forgettable. 42 is clearly the worst of this bunch but that is mainly down to David Tennant at his most bombastic and smugly self regarding in his acting (that his overacting makes 42 almost unwatchable is more down to Graeme Harper – yet again indulging him, rather than directing him to rein in the performance as he would continue to do – than Chris Chibnall’s script. This could have been almost bearable with Smith, or even better, Capaldi). Conversely, Dinosaurs lifts its head a little above the others due to the sterling work of Mark Williams and David Bradley. I think they are all failures sadly, even Matt Smith at his most charismatic can’t save any of the others. Not the worst writing on modern Who – step on down Mr Davies, Mr Greenhorn and Mr Graham – but possibly the most deeply mediocre.

    Add Chris Chibnall’s most recent work, Broadchurch 2, which is even less accomplished than any of his DW output, to this sorry CV, then you can understand the concern people have about the future direction of the show.

    To take a positive out of this, Chris Chibnall will be getting at least one experienced co executive producer and there is talk of a writers’ room. This may help stay the kind of wrongheadedness so apparent in bringing the second Broadchurch to television without another pair of eyes to look over it and spot the huge flaws in the storyline. This may give us fifty shades of beige but it might help make scripts a bit punchier. I don’t think we can expect to see the singular glories of something like Heaven Sent, Listen,
    God Complex or Doctor’s Wife, but it may avoid the singular awfulness of Doctor’s Daughter, End of Time or Journey’s End.

    If Peter Capaldi wants to stay on, then we know at least we can expect his strength of performance to carry over any sub par script but if he isn’t there, I really do wonder about the future health of the show.

    • Daniel

      They won’t be resting the show any time soon unless Chibnall ushers in something so radically different that it brings about a completely disastrous drop in ratings because it is currently such a huge global success for the BBC and makes them millions of pounds. In some ways, it will be more relevant to see how series 10 goes. All the signs are great after the huge critical success of series 9 and big growth in overseas audiences, but the BBC really will need to show it a bit more love next year. A repeat of the terrible lack of promotion and support the show got from the BBC last year will bode ill for its current robust health in the UK.

  • Daniel

    Agree that they aren’t very well written episodes but surely Chris Chibnall’s main role as showrunner will be to oversight the show’s production, including getting a really strong set of writers for the show, keep channels of communication open and strong with the BBC and establish a consistent tone. I daresay he will want to write the ‘big event’ episodes for his series in the same way RTD and Moffat did, but maybe with a writers’ room set up, that might mean some co-author credits with another writer with complementary skills helping him. He won’t be writing all of the episodes, so just as his episodes for RTD and Moffat were largely overshadowed by stronger episodes, those he writes for series 11 might be surrounded by really good stuff. Perhaps he may be a more hands off showrunner and spend most of his time overseeing better writers delivering material. We just don’t know. Perhaps how BC 3 turns out might give a hint but maybe not. (I doubt it will get a fair hearing anyway after the slamming BC 2 got from the critics and viewers, they are sure to have their knives sharpened and at the ready!). Sure, his choice for Who as showrunner is underwhelming based on the quality of his writing, but there are other skills involved and perhaps he will excel in those. Best to keep expectations low, but hopes high I think.

  • Greetl

    The only one I really enjoy is Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. That’s fun! The rest are mostly forgettable – not good, not bad. 42 is probably the weakest because the acting is mostly pretty terrible unlike the others which at least have some pretty good acting and since Matt, Karen and Arthur are my fave Tardis team, all of theirs get a thumbs up from me. David gets all the criticism for being too OTT in 42 which is true but I think Michelle Collins is just as bad an actor as David in this as is the woman who plays the medic. All of them are urgh.Freema though is good! I read somewhere that Chris hurt his back part of the way through writing 42 which may excuse his poor writing a little. I don’t know anything about Broadchurch as it was hardly seen by anyone here in Oz, don’t even know if they ever bothered showing the second one. Maybe because of the bad reception in the UK, no stations here might have wanted to pick it up. My views on Chris are only based on his work on Who and some Torchwood and while he isn’t a great writer, his stuff seems ok. It looks though like it is the kind of thing where if the acting is really bad like 42, it drags it down, but if the acting is good it can really raise the episode. So maybe if they get the kind of fantastic casting we have had with Moffat, Chibnall will do really well.

  • Marcie

    My ranking is
    1. DINOSAUR
    2. COLD BLOOD
    3. HUNGRY EARTH
    4. POWER OF THREE
    5. 42

    None of them are outstanding but I think Dinosaur and Earth/Blood are better than their reputation. Power of Three’s and 42’s main failing is that they are both boring.

  • MargaretL

    Chris Chibnall is yet to write a halfway decent episode of Who. All of these would be in my bottom half of all episodes and 42 would be in my bottom 10 or 20 all time episodes.

    1. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – stupid but fun, Brian is sweet and David Bradley is a great villain – 6/10
    2. Power of Three – fails to develop interesting ideas, good comedy from Matt – 6/10
    3 & 4. Hungry Earth/Cold Blood – Rory is great, some ok scenes, esp with Amy but hate re-design of Silurians and story really drags – 5/10
    5. 42 – stupid, drags and way too SHOUTY! – 2/10

  • SamR

    Some really strong to average episodes here- all 6/10 and above for me. The thrilling, tightly written 42 alongside the political tension of THE/CB mean I can’t wait for Chibnall’s more character driven version of the show.

    • Dr. Moo

      “The thrilling, tightly written 42 alongside the political tension of THE/CB”

      Hahahahahaha!!! Brilliant! Thanks for a good laugh.

      • Gary Soanes

        Jerk

        • Dr. Moo

          Cheers Gary. Have a nice day.

          • whonose1963

            Dr. Moo, do you have nothing better to do than insult other’s opinions? I disagree with many of your opinions, but I feel no need to insult you about them. Instead of just bluntly insulting SamR, why not explain your opinion thoroughly and politely to persuade them to reconsider? For example I believe that your 0/10 rating for ‘The End of Time’ mentioned above is unjustified as whilst I agree that 10 was over-emotional about his regeneration, surely there was something you enjoyed- Bernard Cribbins as Wilf, the Farewell Tour, Timothy Dalton as Rassilon?

          • Dr. Moo

            The farewell tour is precisely why it gets zero. It was an attempt to sabotage Smith and Moffat before they even started – unforgivable.

          • whonose1963

            Would you care to explain why it was attempted sabotage?

          • Dr. Moo

            The way it was written set up Tennant’s exit as though the passing of a god (his final words especially drove that point home). A regeneration should be about ushering in the new guy while respecting the outgoing star, this one instead decided to present the new Doctor as if he were usurping the position. It presents Tennant as if he were the only Doctor and presents regeneration as a death (which we all know it isn’t). It shows no respect to the show’s long history of embracing change and says a big “screw you, we’re better, f-off” to the incoming cast and crew.

          • Edward Delingford

            Doctor Moo. You have articulated what many viewers took out of that episode and to some extent what I think has now become one of the more ‘accepted’ approaches in analysing that episode critically. Certainly it is something which has become increasingly common when reviewing The End of Time in hindsight. Steven Moffat appears to have taken that meaning too from RTD’s script as he makes the fact unambiguously that 11 is merely one of a long and continuing line of doctors in a number of scenes in The Eleventh Hour (insisting on showing all of 11’s predecessors as 11 triumphantly smashes through the hologram 10 and proclaiming ‘I AM the Doctor’ being the most ‘on the nose’ example.) There is further rebuttal to RTD’s view scattered throughout Moffat’s series with 11 and most pointedly, 10’s lament that he doesn’t want to go because he has been presented as the ‘ultimate’ doctor is beautifully lampooned in Day of the Doctor. I think that skewering finally pricked the pomposity of 10’s final lines and to some extent, The End of Time’s final scenes can now only be watched through that filter, ie as overblown rhetoric only worthy of satire and ridicule.

            We are a long way away now from The End of Time and its reputation, as well as that of the 10th Doctor, continues to decline. This is partly that both 10 and David Tennant have been overshadowed by two better written and acted Doctors (three if War is included) and Tennant’s own post Who career failure which might now posit the question as to whether his career might not have stumbled so badly if he had NOT gone. Steven Moffat has also overthrown the narrative cul de sac imposed on the show by RTD’s overarching narrative for 10 that he is the last of the Time Lords and Gallifrey is destroyed. So neither the 10th Doctor, nor the actor, nor indeed the entire story arc framed around them was as irreplacable as asserted by RTD (and Tennant) in The End of Time and the semi hysterical reportage of Tennant’s departure by the media.

            Personally, while I find the arrogance and antipathy to the long history of the show and its legacy displayed by RTD in The End of Time off putting and distasteful, its greatest crime may simply be that it’s just not a very good episode of television. Far too long, far too poorly paced, poor SFX, overwhelmed by nauseatingly saccharine music and excruciatingly self indulgent over acting by Tennant, Dalton and Simm. Bernard Cribbins is of course delightful and injects the only note of genuine feeling in the whole sorry enterprise. I would rate it 1/10 purely because of Mr Cribbins’ heartfelt performance which is in contrast to the rest of the deeply cynical and manipulative emotional ‘junk’ on display.

            I understand some people either like The End of Time or give it a pass because of sentimental reasons and that is fine as we can only offer our opinions but I think I can also argue my dislike cogently and equally I can respect their reasons for enjoying the episode. We all see things differently after all.

          • whonose1963

            Whilst I agree that Tennant’s departure was a bit over-dramatic, I view it as a celebration of the RTD era- showing off all of the great main characters he created and creating a sense of sadness that their time was over. Also, I believe that the theme of closure and ending flowed nicely into Moffat’s themes in Series 5 of new beginnings- new doctor, new companion, new sonic, new TARDIS, new daleks etc. Finally, even Classic Doctor Who experiments with themes of death and/or past faces coming back- especially ‘Caves of Androzani’ but also ‘Planet of the Spiders’; and ‘Logopolis’ draws out 4’s regeneration with the inclusion of the Watcher in a similar way to how 10’s regeneration is drawn out through dialogue (although of course not as much as different eras have different styles- something I think that you need to keep in mind). If this is not enough to persuade you to even slightly appreciate ‘The End of Time’, what about the brilliant performances of Bernard Cribbins as Wilf or Timothy Dalton as Rassilon?

          • whonose1963

            On a side note, thank you Edward Delingford for your detailed opinion- it has given me much to think about. Whilst I don’t agree with everything, I totally agree that everyone has different opinions for their own reasons, which is why I felt the need to confront Dr. Moo originally for mocking someone else’s opinions.
            Personally, I rank ‘The End of Time’ as a 6/10 as whilst I do certainly feel that it dishonoured Tennant to a certain degree and feel rather incredulous at RTD for doing this in his last episode, I do feel that it featured some great character moments from Wilf and other companions in the Farewell Tour- Wilf was definately the best part of the episode and a fantastic character by himself. Also, I did quite like Rassilon for leading a portrayal of the Time Lords in a war situation and the Master’s change of heart as it helped to make him a more complex character.
            However, I completely accept that you think differently and am not trying to say that you are wrong, only trying to make you enjoy Doctor Who even more and if I failed, well, that’s perfectly alright.
            Finally I would like to complement you, Edward Delingford, for your excellent comment/ short essay: great detail, analysis and vocabulary throughout, quite impressive!

          • Edward Delingford

            Different strokes etc. I really enjoy Dr Moo’s views as he is able to make you look at things differently and usually very well reasoned.

            Anyhoos, we all have views others scratch their head at. I dislike nearly all of series 4, loathe Journey’s End, love Gridlock, can’t conjure up much enthusiasm for Day of the Doctor and find Time of the Doctor to be a masterpiece of writing and acting. All probably not the mainstream view. Finding Chris Chibnall’s writing output including both Broadchurches as well as for Who and Torchwood to be distinctly underwhelming, acknowledging series 9 as the best in new Who and having some reservations about a Chibnall led Who are more mainstream views though I think.

          • Cassandra Atticum

            The Second Doctor’s regeneration was one gigantic temper tantrum.

          • Chris Brown

            Which is why, from your previous posts you have a working knowledge of every single episode.

          • edward

            I’ve never heard this interpretation before stumbling across this site today. I’m not convinced. I mean, I disliked it intensely – I thought it was self-indulgent on RTD’s part to bring back people just because he wanted to work with them one last time, even though it didn’t serve the story imo, and I found the end-tour bit tedious, and such. I was at the time gagging for Moffat to come in and save the show from some of RTD’s mistakes, though tbh I have come to the conclusion I was wrong. Moffat’s first season and a bit were fine, but more recently his ego has churned out a version of Who for which I really do not care. Perhaps I was just looking for something more than a children’s show. I remember Moffat saying at the beginning he wanted to make it more of a children’s show again – some of the more recent stuff felt like it was written as a very middle-class children’s show, talking down to the audience rather than giving them some credit. Who knows, though. I’m prepared to give somebody else a chance, evne if only because I disliked so intensely where Moffat had taken it for so long. It’s probably significant that I consider moffat’s best writing for the show to have been done while someone else was overall in charge. Next up after chibnall? Well, hell, I’d love to see Mark Gatiss get a shot at it…. unless there’s a chance Netflix might do a Lucifer Box series, in which case, that instead, please.

  • y’vmtwthtrrblft

    Awful, awful, awful! What a load of trash. A very poor writer, he should take a backseat role in his writing room.

    • Dr. Moo

      “he should take a backseat role in his writing room” – Best thing I’ve read all day, let’s hope this happens.

      • Ben

        Awful writer?? Hmm what about his torchwood episodes and the first series of Broadchurch and the fact that he criticised the 80s era of doctor who and his fave era is Pertwees 42 is a great story I love it I think it’s underrated

        • Dr. Moo

          “what about his torchwood episodes” – Because gas that kills people by making them climax is good writing now?!
          “Broadchurch” – That series was so bad it was funny!
          “the fact that he criticised the 80s era of doctor who” – The 80s were awesome. Peter, Colin, Sylvester, all amazing.

          • Edward Delingford

            Yup. I know some people like the first series of Broadchurch but honestly it wasn’t very well written either. Silly ending which came out of nowhere and too many filler scenes of actors staring moodily at the sea, rather than progressing the plot. Its success is only down to the good acting of Jodie Whittaker, Olivia Colman and David Bradley. Without them, it would have sunk without a trace. Obviously not as ‘so bad, it’s a joke’ level of the second series but typical dull, plodding Chibnall fare with an out of nowhere resolution and lack of consistency in characterisation. I think those are the main problems in most of his work – it’s just not exciting or well thought out and immediarely forgettable. When he tries to ‘sex up’ the plot, the results are just ludicrous – Cyberwoman and Broadchurch 2 being the worst examples.

          • Dr. Moo

            Don’t forget Day One, that made Cyberwoman look like Caves of Androzani.

    • MargaretL

      Perhaps he could make the tea?

      • Edward Delingford

        …..and bring the writers copious supplies of Jammy Dodgers for dunking in their tea.

  • Dr_Syn

    Never forget that he wrote the “Torchwood” episode “Cyberwoman,” one of the worst DW-related episodes of anything ever.

    • MargaretL

      And Broadchurch 2 which was at the very bottom of most critics ‘ worst of ‘ lists for 2015. That makes Cyberwoman look like Heaven Sent by comparison.

      • Edward Delingford

        Hmmm. I actually think Cyberwoman or 42 might be even worse than Broadchurch 2. I got quite a few chuckles out of that at least. Perhaps this article should be renamed ‘Ranking Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who episodes from unwatchable to merely poor’.

  • Hanaha

    It is depressing seeing how uniformly poor all of these episodes are, how awful most of his work for Torchwood and Life on Mars was and the disaster of the second Brosdchurch and you really wonder how many people must have either ruled themselves out (Mark Gatiss), were not available or turned it down before they got way down the list to Chris Chibnall’s name. We are going from the absolute high point of new Who to potentially one of the lowest points in the history of the show. Just lesvingbthat here.

    • Daniel

      Pretty sure he would be down the list based on his so-so Who work, but the show is stuck with him now, for good or bad, so we all have to suck it up, or move on. As long as Peter stays on for the transition, things should hold together at least for a while. After Peter leaves? Well, let’s all hope that is a long long time away.

  • TimeyWimey

    You’re right in saying that ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ is his best; that episode goes some way in soothing my nerves about Chibnall’s steermanship !

  • HZ1

    It still beggars belief that we are going from the man who has so many Hugos and BAFTAs and Emmys he probably doesn’t know what to do with them and wrote masterpieces like Listen, Heaven Sent, The Eleventh Hour, Day of the Doctor, Blink, Impossible Astronaut etc to the man who wrote that sorry lot.

    • Dr. Moo

      I guess Toby Whithouse was busy? As were about fifty other people too, I suppose.

  • Nicolas

    While none of those plumb the depths that (say) “The Next Doctor” reached, none of them is in any danger at all of ending up on my “Recommended” list either.

    “42” was very lightweight, and very clichéd, but did at manage some fast-paced suspense.

    “The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood” I struggle to find anything complimentary to say about – they’re highly derivative, and poorly constructed.

    “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was an absolute mess – it’s as if the writer just threw half a dozen unrelated ideas into a melting pot in the vain hope that they would somehow or other gel together into something good – they didn’t. The tone bounces around all over the place without any idea of where it’s going. The Doctor commits murder with almost no hesitation. And poor David Bradley: he is one of my favourite actors, and it was a tragedy that they should hire a guest star of his calibre and then stick him in something this mediocre.

    “Power of Three” I *nearly* liked. The first two thirds of the episode are interestingly different from anything I’d seen before, and there is a real sense of off-beat menace about them. The problem is that it falls apart completely in the third act: having set up a genuinely intriguing mystery, Chibnall obviously had no idea how to resolve it without a crashing anti-climax.

    One thing not mentioned here is that Chibnall also wrote the mini episodes entitled “Pond Life”, which show you a little of what life was life for Rory and Amy when the Doctor wasn’t around. I think that may actually be his best work on “Doctor Who”!

    I understand he was also writer-in-chief for the first two seasons of “Torchwood”; and frankly, that doesn’t say much for his ability to commission scripts or edit them into a cohesive whole. The third season of “Torchwood” is by far the best, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is the season made after Chibnall stepped down.

    All in all I have very little hope that “Doctor Who” will retain its quality after Moffat steps down. 🙁

    • HZ1

      The simple answer is the show can’t maintain the quality Moffat has elevated it to once he lesves, and God forbid, Peter Capaldi as well, even if some one more talented than the epitome of mediocrity and slapdash writing that is Chris Chibnall was taking over. I feel I should just continue to glory in this current golden period and not look too far into the future. All shows have their ups and downs and we are approaching a ferocious dip in quality and intelligence but that is how it is. The show has strong bones, but I fear a likely dumbing down and blandness of a Chibnall led show will lead to a huge loss of viewers here and internationally and BBC deciding to rest it again. In some ways I would rather it had been rested for a while than let it die a slow and undignified death under Chibnall.

      • Hanaha

        Agree 100%.

        • Bardotti

          I will ditto your ditto. If Capaldi goes I think the other big issue will be the BBC foisting on us another Tennant ‘pretty boy’ clone for the teenage girls where the show goes from intelligent family sci fi to the Twighlight storylines we got in series 2.

    • MargaretL

      You have hit the nail on the head as to Chibbers biggest failing as a writer and that is because he simply can’t land an ending. He sort of just gives up, shrugs his shoulders and lets it peeter out. It is not just his Who work either. One of the big failings of the first Broadchurch was the ending. After all that build up it was so flat and then kept going on for unrequired fadeouts. Hopefully the writers room will mean he gets someone to punch up his dialogue and pick up on structural issues and best of all, doesn’t write that many episodes.

  • Joe Cogan

    This does not bode well. “Dinosaurs” is the only episode I liked, and that’s mainly due to Rory’s Dad.

  • Nathan

    And this isn’t even including his Torchwood episodes, which are even worse….

    I mean, Hell Bent already destroyed by interest in Doctor Who (which is sad, considering Heaven Sent is one of the greatest in the entire show’s history), but it looks like the downhill trend will continue once Moffat’s gone.

    • Bardotti

      Hell Bent is an episode ripe for reevaluation and I think it will correctly be seen as s companion masterpiece to Heaven Sent. Some wise words as always from Philip Sandifer worth reading on the topic. But yes, Heaven Sent is one for the ages. Series 11 though is heading off a cliff.

      • Nathan

        I have to thoroughly disagree–what could have been an intriguing exploration of Gallifreyan culture and the resurface of Rassilon turned into yet another “the Doctor’s companion is the most important person in the universe.” Which we’ve already seen with Rose and Donna. Not to mention it completely detracts from Clara’s heartbreaking death in “Face the Raven,” and turned her into another “no the Doctor can’t see her ever again because timey-wimey.”

        • edward

          Indeed. I’ll allow that I whooped in celebration when Clara died, so we’re probably not seeing this from exactly the same perspective… 😉 *however* where we agree is that it was yet another example of Moffat’s inability to commit to finality pulling the rug ut from under one of the much better (and better-written) plot points of his tenure.

  • Hanaha

    Really fear for the show once Moffat leaves based on how bad Chibnall’s work on DE, TW and BC has been. Moffat has raised the bar so high though, that it is doubtful anyone, even someone who can write decent television, could produce a show as wonderfully entertaining. Pray that Peter Capaldi remains beyond series 10.

    • Bardotti

      I pray nightly. With the Grand Moff leaving, I honestly don’t think the show could cope with Peter going to. So we are going from the most golden run in new Who to right off a Chibnall cliff.

      • edward

        Funny how opinions differ. For me, we’re gonig from one of the show’s true low points to an unknown future. We’ll see what happens now. My reaction to the announcement of Moffat leaving was along the lines of “ding dong, the witch is dead”, but I’d be gutted if Capaldi went at the same time. In large part becasue I didn’t like most of what Moffat wrote or oversaw for him (I never much liked Clara, but she really grated from the moment she *should* have disappeared, which was when she jumped into the splitter thing.) She was fine as a sort of plot device in her first series, but boy did she bore me when they tried to make her a character. Never much liked the drippy boyfriend either.

        The much bigger reason I hope Capaldi stays on than simpyl him getting some writing I might enjoy is that I’m tired of the predictability of regens in NuWho. There’s a lot of predicatability that could easily be avoided if they were more interested in swrving the story than a series-long or half-series long contract. Rory and Amy stayed around half a season too long, to the point where them leaving was unemotional for me – I’d stopped caring. It was such a shame that they had to be just kept around because the show needed a big mid-season finale…. While I doubt that we’ll ever see the show be left alone by the press such that there’ll be the possibility of a genuine surprise regeneration now, I’d still adore to see something like a regeneration three episodes in to a series or such. And a Doctor who at least stays around more than three years – this “three years, new head writier and new doctor” formula that seems to have been sort of begun (Okay, Moffat has stayed on much longer, with two Doctors, but…), meh. Are they really so convinced that they can’t write a great end of run as showrunner episode without the crutch of taking their Doctor with them? It’s as tedious as bringing back the damn Daleks every series. They were ridiculously overused by RTD especially.

        Pinch of salt, mind- I very much liked Sylvester McCoy. While it’s lovely to have Who back and see all the toys nuWho has (as well as the Beeb giving it some respect this time round), I’m always a little disappointed that the qulity of the writing for NuWho has rarely matched that in the bst of the original show. Sometimes I think they’re too dependent on the effects and toys they have now rather than having to make the writing count for everything.

        P.S. I’ll never forgive Moffat for bringing back that bloody awful girl with the scarf. She could have been even more grating than Clara if she’d been in as many episodes!

  • bookon

    The best you can say here is that they are better than the Mark Gatiss episodes.

    • Bardotti

      You can’t even say that. Not a single one would rate more than 2 or 3 out of 10. Gatiss has had as many stinkers as Chibnall but he has had two unqualified successes – The Unquiet Dead and The Crimson Horror. All of Chibnall’s output for DW has been rubbish. Gatiss has a very narrow range of expertise – essentially Victorian Gothic, Chibnall is just incompetent. Full stop. The show is in BIG trouble I am afraid. Looking forward to the Moff haters begging for his return after the first Chibnall written episode of series 11 airs.

      • bookon

        The Unquiet Dead and The Crimson Horror are CLEARLY the best ones, but they are merely good to me, not great. That said, Now that you have brought it to my attention, I agree they are closer than I said. Let’s hope some of that Broadchurch magic comes with him.

        • Bardotti

          The magic died with the awful mess that was the second Broadchurch I am afraid. Just can’t get past how rubbish that was – acting was terrible but the writing was worse. That is his most recent work and just shows Broadchurch 1 was a complete fluke and even that isn’t very good because the poor writing is overcome by how good Olivia Coleman, Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan all were. One of the most over rated dramas ever and yet Chibnall has been coasting on it ever since including getting the Who showrunner role. God help the show and hope that Capaldi deigns to stay on.

          • bookon

            I liked season 2 more than you apparently, but it was nowhere as good as season 1. I have a rule not to prejudge these sorts of things, so I will hope for the best and wait and see.

  • Risa Romano

    Okay, so maybe I have the taste of a 12 year old boy, but I really love Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. For exactly the reasons the article mentioned. I like Doctor Who most when it gives into fun adventure stories.

    Admittedly, I feel more middle of the road about his other DW episodes (and I can barely remember any of Torchwood), but maybe that’s more what we need. I loved Moffat’s writing when he wasn’t running things. Most of his episodes since he took over haven’t impressed me. So this is kind of going the other way about it. If nothing else I’m looking forward to a change of pace.

    And I think it makes sense that they gave the show to current showrunner (but granted Broadchurch is hella dark, so I don’t know what that will mean for the Doctor).