Doctor Who: THE GIGGLE Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE GIGGLE Review

The Giggle," the final installment of the "Doctor Who" 60th-anniversary trilogy, is a bold and exhilarating episode that marks a significant milestone in the series. Under the returning showrunner Russell T Davies, the episode weaves a narrative that is both a homage to the past and a daring leap into the future of the series.

Opening in the wake of "Wild Blue Yonder," with the Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion, Donna (Catherine Tate), finding Earth in turmoil, we soon discover that the chaos is the work of the Toymaker, played with a delightful blend of whimsy and malevolence by Neil Patrick Harris. His character, a notorious enemy from the Time Lords' history, brings a unique blend of camp and sinister elements, reminiscent of classic Who villains.

One of the most striking features of "The Giggle" is its narrative complexity and the wild swings in tone and mood that are characteristic of Davies's writing. The episode is epic in scale, featuring grand scenes of UNIT battles and even a dance sequence, which adds to its surreal quality. The story arc takes several unexpected turns, including a journey back to Soho in 1925, adding a layer of historical intrigue and horror with the introduction of the ventriloquist dummy Stooky Bill.

The culmination of the episode is the much-anticipated regeneration of Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor into Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor. In a surprising twist, the regeneration process, dubbed "bi-generation," results in both Tennant and Gatwa's Doctors coexisting, a narrative decision that has never been explored in "Doctor Who" lore. Gatwa’s portrayal of the Doctor is immediately charismatic and confident, offering a fresh take on the iconic character.

Amidst these dramatic developments, "The Giggle" doesn't lose sight of the emotional core of "Doctor Who." The episode delves into the Doctor's psyche, exploring themes of identity and self-reflection. Tennant delivers a nuanced performance, portraying a Doctor who is both familiar and markedly changed by his experiences. His interactions with Donna, who has grown wiser and more assertive, add depth to their relationship.

The episode also serves as a commentary on contemporary societal issues. The Toymaker's manipulation, causing people to become violently self-righteous, mirrors the divisiveness of modern social media culture. This allegorical aspect of the storyline showcases Davies's ability to blend topical themes with the show’s fantastical narrative.

Visually, "The Giggle" is a feast, although it's not without its flaws in CGI. However, these do not detract from the overall impact of the episode. The show continues to push the envelope in terms of storytelling and visual imagination, even within the constraints of its budget.

The revamped UNIT plays a pivotal role in the unfolding chaos on Earth, sparked by the Toymaker's sinister machinations. The organization is depicted as desperately trying to manage the rampant violence caused by a psychological contagion unleashed globally. This new portrayal of UNIT is marked by a significant shift from its traditional depictions, showcasing a more modern and imposing presence. The updated headquarters, with its grand scale and state-of-the-art facilities, strongly resembles the Avengers Tower, suggesting a contemporary reimagining of this classic defense institution within the "Doctor Who" universe. And, one can't help but wonder, how much of this episode lays the seeds for a future spin-off series with UNIT and its characters.

It's not just Kate Lethbridge Stewart and UNIT who makes a memorable return, but 'Mad Aunty' Mel Bush, portrayed by Bonnie Langford, too. Her character's reappearance is a delightful surprise for both the Doctor and Classic Who viewers, adding a touch of nostalgia and continuity to the episode. Melanie’s character injects a sense of historical depth and connection to the Doctor's past, highlighting his long and complex journey through time. Her presence serves as a reminder of the Doctor's extensive network of companions and allies, underlining the rich tapestry of relationships he has formed over his adventures. It also highlights a penchant for red head companions, and despite the bi-generation the good Doctor is "still not ginger," as his eleven incarnation lamented once.

The potential future set-ups don't end with just a UNIT spin-off as the warmth of Tennant's final scenes, post bi-generation, leave an open door for easily explainable occasional appearances within Davies' Whoniverse (and beyond), unlike any other Doctor has been gifted before. And really, who wouldn't welcome that, given the strength of these three special episodes.

In conclusion, "The Giggle" is a fitting finale to the trilogy, weaving together a story that is epic, whimsical, and deeply introspective. It sets a high bar for the future of "Doctor Who," leaving fans eagerly anticipating the new adventures with Gatwa's Doctor. The episode encapsulates the essence of the show – its capacity to evolve while staying true to its roots, its blend of humor and gravity, and its unwavering spirit of adventure. As "Doctor Who" heads into its next chapter, it does so with a renewed sense of excitement and endless possibilities.

Roll on Christmas Day...

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