Doctor Who Review: “Wild Blue Yonder” is Okay Who

The Fourteenth Doctor and Donna Noble stand on a large mechanical platform. A white robot is visible behind them.

While the “Wild Blue Yonder” special is a good character study for Donna and the Doctor, it doesn’t live up to the hype.

At the end of the first of the three Doctor Who specials for the franchise’s 60th anniversary, we left with the cliffhanger of Donna (Catherine Tate) accidentally pouring coffee on the TARDIS console, sending the Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna off on an unexpected adventure.

After a quick interaction with a “surprisingly hot” Isaac Newton, in “Wild Blue Yonder”, the pair winds up on a spaceship on the literal edge of the universe. The TARDIS flies away as it feels danger, leaving the two abandoned and trying to figure out what’s wrong.

The spaceship also has two beings who end up taking on the shape of our two heroes, leading to the various tropes you see with doubles and duplicates. Who is who, and which one is real? Unfortunately, these tropes were done (and done better) during Matt Smith’s era with the two-parter “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”.

While like with “The Star Beast” it was great seeing Tate and Tennant back again, the episode overall was… just fine? It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t astounding either, and that makes it difficult to write up a review.

Admittedly, Tate and Tennant’s acting is superb, and director Tom Kingsley does a good job with them. Both actors do a splendid job playing the characters we know and love and duplicates that are behaving just off enough.

However, Russell T. Davies’ script has the plot focus more on the duplication rather than the stakes. Supposedly the universe is at risk, but it never quite translates to that big of a deal to me. Additionally, while they have a lot of talk of the TARDIS ‘playing’ the song “Wild Blue Yonder”, it’s never quite explained as why it’s the title, outside of it being a piece of knowledge that helps the Doctor tell which Donna is which (maybe).

The real highlight was seeing Bernard Cribbins as Wilf near the end, but it’s more of the teaser for the next episode than part of this one. I can understand not wanting to focus on cameos, and wasn’t expecting anyone else from the show to necessarily pop up. However, it should have made more of an impact being an anniversary special.

With the setup of the third special at the end, it feels like the calm before the storm where not much happens. Considering the buildup social media had around the episode, where they acted like the plot was going to be on par with “Midnight” and some of the other more terrifying (and well-written) episodes of the show, it feels a bit of a letdown. There’s nothing new here, and if this was a regular season I’d write it off as a filler character study.

But this is supposed an anniversary special, and Davies himself had hyped up the plot as an extremely weird one that could only be done with the cash Disney had offered. I mean, the special effects are definitely showing that cash, and the spaceship and robot are better than we’re maybe used to.

But again, in the end, I was whelmed by the plot and felt it was ‘just’ another episode, rather than an anniversary one.

Doctor Who‘s ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ is available on Disney+ for American viewers, and on the BBC iPlayer for those of you in the UK.

The third and final anniversary special, “The Giggle”, will be available on December 9, 2023.

Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.

She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.


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