Doctor Who: Spyfall, Part 1
January 1, 2020 7:06 PM - Season 12, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Intelligence agents around the world are under attack from alien forces, so MI6 turn to the only people who can help: the Doctor and friend. As they travel the globe looking for answers, attacks come from all sides.
posted by oh yeah! (32 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ugh. Doctor Who doesn't do action well. Like, ever. Stop doing it. Just stop.
posted by Kyol at 7:11 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Sacha Dhawan is good and I like his version of The Master so far. It will be a heck of a thing following up Missy, so good luck to him.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:17 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Somehow, I managed to watch this entirely unspoiled and I did not see the Master revealing coming. I liked him. That was good. I liked that the Doctor wore a tux, too.

I love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, but I'm still meh on Chris Chibnall as showrunner.
posted by Ruki at 7:45 PM on January 1 [9 favorites]


God, I just love Chris Chibnall's take on Doctor Who. It's cheesy in all the right ways! It's fun and spoofy and the opposite of self-serious, but it constantly pays tribute to its own legacy as a show. This is exactly what a Pertwee episode would be if they had a budget!

I was totally not expecting the Master reveal. Good twist, and perfect to not explain why he was alive after the last time. I also love how into it Jodie Whittaker is. She has so much energy and enthusiasm. The show is so much more fun than Moffatt's version. It's not a puzzle to figure out, it's an adventure!

I'm so happy to have this show back.
posted by rikschell at 7:52 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


I really loved it, and hadn't seen any spoilers, so I was floored by The Master. My only quibble, and it's a small one... do Jodie Whittaker's shins just get overly warm or something? Why always those weird, awkwardly-short pants?? The tux was such a great look on her... and then the weird flood pants. Why??
posted by sarcasticah at 8:08 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


I like Chibnall's take on the show, though some of the plot mechanics of this episode weren't great, the reveal at the end worked really well and I can't wait to see this version of the Master again. I'm not sure Chibnall's adventure stuff is quite as good as RTD's but I'm glad he swung for the fences here. I assume the show will calm down again and do some more intimate, historical stuff - but for a season premiere, I had a lot of fun.

(This might have been the only time I've actually been surprised by a Master reveal, as the BBC has in recent years loved to spoil his/her return. Even when he returned in "Utopia", I am pretty sure the John Simm reveal was out of the bag.)
posted by crossoverman at 9:14 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Did not see that reveal coming at all. Really good episode. It felt like the show has hit its stride right out of the gate. Good fun. Glad to have the show back.

(I really, really want to know how the Master came back, though)
posted by Thorzdad at 9:41 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


I was sort of checked out in the middle--Chibnall seems to have this problem of elongating his plots with filler. Spies getting their DNA rewritten and a possibly-evil, part-alien tech genius and a reclusive MI6 iconoclast who's been exiled to Australia and weird interdimensional aliens? Pick (maybe) three, Chris.

I'm here for the Master, though. Sacha Dhawan's glee at being the smartest person in the room on the plane was a lot of fun to watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with him in the next episode.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:02 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Slow for 55 minutes, then they turned it up to 100 for the last 5 minutes – classic Doctor Who (or BBC dramas in general).

- Doing free Alexa product placement but showing it not working is the most BBC thing ever. And showing trendy "new" tech fatally malfunctioning is the most Who thing ever.

- The most unrealistic thing in this time-travel sci-fi adventure is a billionaire tech CEO meeting random journos at the front door.

- Next time I Google someone I'll say I'm "searching you up"

- There's always a moment in Who when someone (usually the Doctor) makes a completely unfounded logical leap, and this time it was when she looked at the white dots on the map and said "all the aliens are spies!"

I'll definitely watch the next ep and the season finale, along with Vinay Patel's ep (he did Demons of the Punjab) but I'll probably skip the rest.
posted by adrianhon at 5:42 AM on January 2


I mean don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy for more of the Master, and that's all well and good, but the first 90% of the episode was unfocused and not great and makes me worry. On the other other hand, I am 100% onboard having enough companions to permit them to tell multiple concurrent stories and writing that actually puts the companions in harm's way.
posted by Kyol at 7:31 AM on January 2


Stray thoughts. I liked it, because I likes me my Who, but it was a bit all over the place. Looked gorgeous. Maybe an unfair comment about a show that's done everything twice backwards in its time, but it did seem to retread a few RTD elements. Need another look but I think the inconsistent location captioning botched the intended globe-hopping joke of "PLACE, COUNTRY ... PLACE, COUNTRY ... SHEFFIELD, YORKSHIRE"

I don't think it's Chibnall's style, but I'm still suspicious of the O reveal and him actually being a Reverse Osgood or Kylo Ren fanboy/wannabe type (Fox Master?) Equally, I wonder if Yaz's trip elsewhere has rendered her 93% Human or if that reading will just turn out to signify that Daniel Barton is from one of those alternate Earths. Did really like how Yaz was used this episode.

Fanservice-wise, am 100% chuffed at the (implied) return of the Tissue Compression Eliminator!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 11:11 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Yeah, to me fanservice should be a fun callback or a style choice, not "you really need to have watched these 3 episodes spread over 15 years in order to enjoy this."

I don't expect Doctor Who to be Peak TV: I judge it by different standards than Mad Men or The Good Place or whatever. But I DO want it to be good Doctor Who. I'm fine with the show reinventing itself (it's always done that) as long as it cares about being the same show in some way.
posted by rikschell at 11:49 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Granted, but it works equally well for anyone unfamiliar as an "I shrink people now, shrinking people is cool!" moment
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 3:50 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed it for the most part, except for the action sequences. Please, Doctor Who is the last show that needs car chase scenes.

I was totally surprised by the Master reveal, and I think Sacha Dhawan is doing a great job, but I was also kind of disappointed that they seem to be ignoring Missy's character arc and more complicated relationship with the Doctor (assuming Dhawan's M is post-Missy) by bringing M back as his old sadistic meglomaniac self. Although, I did kind of feel that the way he said that they're "best enemies" had a hint of affection for his perpetual adversary. I'm definitely looking forward to part 2 on Sunday.
posted by homunculus at 10:24 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


I liked it, even though the BBC America app completely spoiled the Master reveal (seriously, right under the episode was a list of 'extras' with the first one being 'The Master Returns!' and a thumbnail of Sacha Dhawan's face).
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:29 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I liked the episode and the Master's return (I managed to avoid spoilers). As soon as Sacha Dhawan pulled that grin I knew what was going on.

If I had to guess I would say that we are in the middle of a standard 70s "The Master allies himself with some invading aliens and then finds he cannot control them" plot, which I am totally fine with.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:22 AM on January 3


My theory on the Master coming back to life is that he's still alive at this point - that this is an earlier Master, pre-dating Missy by quite a lot.
posted by Mogur at 11:16 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I think the deeper secret image coupled with the "not of this universe" thing implies a multiverse situation; so this could be a different universe's version of The Master.

They went all-out and spent two or even three hundred pounds on those car chase scenes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:21 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


On the whole I enjoyed it very much, although I found all the shooty shooty bang bang more than a little disturbing... less gunfights please. Very much enjoying all the fan responses, masterful puns on twitter and so on.

And what do we think about the aliens? Cybermen in disguise or Cybermen in disguise?
posted by Coaticass at 1:26 PM on January 3


I'm thinking they might be Cybermen in disguise.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:17 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


> I think the deeper secret image coupled with the "not of this universe" thing implies a multiverse situation

> And what do we think about the aliens? Cybermen in disguise or Cybermen in disguise?


I wonder if they might be Time Lords. I'm thinking of Rassilon's plan from The End of Time which would have had them ascend into beings of pure consciousness: perhaps these are the Time Lords from an alternate universe who went through with it, but something went wrong and now they're trying to return to another reality since they destroyed their own. If so they could have resurrected Missy to help them, accounting for how she came back despite the Master shooting her full-blast with his screwdriver.
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I loved the part where Stephen Fry’s C approached Graham and addressed him as the Doctor, and the ensuing affronted bluster. Also loved the Doctor’s cheerful “I’ve had an upgrade!”

I did not like the spy aspect of the episode. It was all stereotypical spy trappings (Casino! Tuxedos! Laser Shoes! Eating a coded note! Being shot at on a motorcycle but not really being worried about it!) but no actual spy intrigue, which could have made the overstuffed story more interesting. The one thing handled well was the Doctor’s Rule 1 of Spycraft (trust no one) being immediately broken when she seeks out O.

I too was spoiled for the Master reveal by the BBC America app and its damn thumbnail.
posted by ejs at 6:39 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I think the entire spy subplot was just to get the Doctor in that tuxedo outfit.
posted by M Edward at 12:29 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I don't think I'll get over them renaming Google "vore"
posted by BungaDunga at 8:15 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


So many weird plot elements. How did the Australian secret service know the Doctor was going to visit O if they'd only decided to go there five minutes before right before the only other person who knew was killed? Why did MI6 treat the threat of aliens like the UK hasn't had tens of alien invasions in the last century? Why did O build a spring-loaded trap in the middle of his house?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:25 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Sorry not sorry, this is stuck in my head and now in preparation for part 2 it’ll be in your head too:

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the Earth move, and then
Hear my heart burst again
For this is the end
I've drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue, I owe them
Swept away, I'm stolen

Let the spy fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
Let the spy fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At spyfall
At spyfall
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:10 PM on January 5


This felt over-long and disjointed to me too; the action felt out-of-place, and the frequent winking towards the Bond movies got a bit tiresome.

Mostly though I came away thinking: their budget is now too high. Constraints force interesting storytelling; this felt unconstrained, sprawly and indulgent.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:18 PM on January 5


I now want to see The Doctor visit The Village.

"Who are you?"
"The regeneration of Number Two."
"Who is Number One?"
"You are... Number Twelve."
posted by SPrintF at 12:01 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Next time I Google someone I'll say I'm "searching you up"

One of the writers knows some British kids/teens. My 12yo has been saying "search up" instead of "look up" or "search for" for several months at least. Might be a more widespread Youtuber thing?
posted by rory at 7:44 AM on January 7


Better than "I'll VOR you up" at least
posted by BungaDunga at 10:35 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I like this one. I also was not a fan of the car chase. That felt way too out of place, and in my head I was like "why can't she just track him with the Tardis and catch him with it?" It's not like we haven't seen The Doctor chase someone in the Tardis before.
posted by numaner at 7:51 AM on January 8


coaticass: And what do we think about the aliens? Cybermen in disguise or Cybermen in disguise?

Cyberman 1: We must upgrade our appearance to work with the Master.
Cyberman 2 places traffic cone on head
Cyberman 1: That will be adequate.
posted by dr_dank at 4:32 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


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