Review: 'Doctor Who: The Giggle'

Doctor Who, thank you! You have given us –a wild ride of fun and terror. This is what I have been missing with Doctor Who — the drama and the comedy. It’s what we need in the world today and very few shows in the last five years have moved me from laughter to tears. In fact, I’ll say this. In some ways, it reminds me of the move from the Fifth Doctor to the Sixth Doctor. That’s when you lost me initially. 

Doctor Who’s “The Giggle” had something for everyone. The opening echoes the time we live in (scary right). Then we got the return of our old friend (and The Doctor’s formal employer) U.N.I.T. with Lethbridge-Stewart. We have the Toymaker which echoes back to the very first doctor. The TARDIS is being transported by helicopter to the 11th Doctor. And all along the way, we have our Doctor and Donna taking the trip. 

Let’s get real for a moment. The Toymaker played by Neil Patrick Harris is one of their best villains of all time. He not only held our attention, but he brought the story into focus with a crazy style (dancing to Spice Girls, really). The maze house in which he trapped the Doctor reminded me of old horror movies, but the remembrance of Amy and Clara also brought a touch of sadness. The Toymaker showed his true colors here when The Doctor reminded him that in a way they survived. I think it was the second game that was telling. Would the outcome have been different if The Doctor had cut the cards?

Let’s move to UNIT. UNIT was a strictly military force with scientists. Without even checking Donna’s background, Lethbridge-Stewart gave her a job at 150,000 pounds and five weeks of vacation. Wow! What a lucky break Donna got. Then, she was the one who could stop the Toymaker’s diabolical laugh that was causing trouble by a computer program. Did this all come from her time with the Doctor or was it meant to be? It was also great that we got another former companion in the mix. Mel was a wonderful addition to the team. Oh, and let’s not forget. The Doctor can order weapons fired to destroy satellites over the Presidents (who were going crazy).

“The Laugh” was the controlling feature that turned EVERYONE into a person who fought for what they wanted (be it a road or London). The victimhood turned on everybody was unnerving because it’s what the world looks like sometimes today (especially with some discussion groups on X). Everyone has an opinion, and you don’t dare disagree. In the case of “the laugh,” it turned normally sane people into control freaks wanting more. “I’m right!” “This is mine!” We see that in our world today. Yes, it is wrong, but we must deal with it and live, as Donna says, “day to day.”

Okay, let’s get to the big story – the regeneration. We should have expected something new and fresh from Russell T. Davies. We got it! Has anyone thought of bi-generational Doctors before? Well, now that it has been done, I’m going to have to rethink the ending of the 50th anniversary show. If you remember, the eleventh Doctor met the Curator at a gallery. The Curator reminded the old-time fans like me of Tom Baker, the beloved fourth doctor. Of course, it could have been because Tom Baker was playing a role. Now, I have to wonder if it was the bi-generational effect. And we have found out that the bi-generational effect is a myth that our Doctor has proven true.

The way The Doctor regenerated was amazing in itself and very unique. He had Donna and Mel pull an arm, and the new Doctor (the 15th) appeared, making the two appear as Siamese twins. The 14th Doctor and the 15th Doctor pushed until both stood side by side. The 14th Doctor did not die or disappear but remained to fight The Toymaker. Even the Toymaker was confused but saw it as a new game he could play for hundreds of years. Of course, causing the Doctor to split over and over might not have had the same effect. What this regeneration meant is simple. It would take both of the Doctors to play catch with the Toymaker who would cheat. With the direct mention of “I want to play a game” by both of them, the fans knew the Toymaker didn’t stand a chance. And two getting their own TARDIS made it all the more special when the second appeared as a prize. But that seems trivial now when you look at the potential for the show over the next years. 

Why did the Doctor double? Doublemint Gum has a slogan of “double your pleasure, double your fun.” Well, let’s face it. Doctor 10/14 always seemed careworn and intense. The fourteenth Doctor returned to solve the final problem of The Toymaker started with the first Doctor. He also had to reunite with Donna, his best friend. As the 15th Doctor tells him, he has carried so many of the troubles of the universe and deaths he seen on himself that 14 was getting thin (sick). When the Doctor came back as the 14th Doctor, he had to see Donna to get rid of the cares. Somehow Donna brought out the best of Doctor 10. And, it was with Donna that he finally let the sorrow and what he had seen go. As the 15th Doctor tells 14, he’s healed the 15th Doctor who can now go back and do the business he should do with fun and joy. 

Which brings me to the ending. Did you ever think you’d see a Doctor be part of the family? The sheer joy that was in the final scene of the 14th Doctor sitting down and becoming a member of Donna’s family was one of joy. I can see him sneaking off with Donna’s daughter, Rose, to show her the world. Sean seems to have accepted the other man in Donna’s life. Sylvia says the Doctor hasn’t seen the evil stepmother yet. And the extended family continues with the addition of a former companion, Mel, as an aunt. We see the set-up for the Doctor having friends, an extended family, and a life away from saving the world and mankind.

Now on to the hint of the future. The Toymaker had played against The Master and won. In winning, the Toymaker put The Master into a gold tooth crown. When the Toymaker was defeated, he lost the tooth. So, who was the woman with red nails who picked it up? And did this remind anyone of another episode in the 10th Doctor’s years with something similar happening? I replayed that scene several times and even went back and looked at the scenes in UNIT. I could not tell who had red nails. The only two options that I could find were Lethbridge-Stewart and Sylvia (Mel and Donna appeared to have clean nails). Could one of them be responsible for the return of The Master? Better yet! Will The Master also have a bi-generation regeneration to deal with? What possibilities that could give! I have a feeling it is Sylvia who we saw stand up from her wheelchair. I’m going to be watching her carefully.

To finish, I want to say that David Tennant and Catherine Tate should be given acting awards for their performances. They did a tour de force of every emotion there could be. Russell T. Davies, thank you for bringing the Doctor full circle. You started it with the casting of Eccleston and Tennant. While I do have issues with you, Davies, over Torchwood, I’ll stand back and watch this with joy – something that has been missing for a while with Doctor Who.