Honestly, if I was still a bloke, I could get on with the job and not have to waste time defending myself
This is the last episode I am watching before leaving town for a week for a developer conference. I am so very close to the second major finish line of this ridiculous project that I can taste it, but it will have to wait until next week to get there. In the meantime, I got to watch the episode with Alan Cumming (whom my wife has touched). So that's a pretty good send-off.
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Although it is set in seventeenth century England, this one is nowhere close to being a Pure Historical like Rosa or Demons of the Punjab. The supernatural/alien antagonists were the driving force of this story, as opposed to those other two where the science-fictional elements were purely secondary. Here the TARDIS team encounters a village in the midst of a witch panic, driven by the paranoid landlady of Bilehurst Cragg and aided by the arrival of King James himself (played by the aforementioned Alan Cumming). With the early appearance of weird bog tentacles, and then later the appearance of zombie-like resurrections of the previously-killed "witches", it is clear that there is some kind of alien incursion happening. So, from that standpoint this is a pretty bog-standard historical Doctor Who standard in the vein of The Masque of Mandragora or The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
The more interesting aspect of the episode comes from it being the first one where the Doctor is directly challenged and/or disregarded as being a woman. Ok, that happened very slightly in (the execrable) Arachnids in the UK, but the sexism of that one character did nothing to constrain the Doctor. Here, though, she is frequently put in check purely because of her (apparent) gender. When Jodie Whittaker was first announced in the role I was a tiny bit fearful that this would be a running theme throughout the season, so I am simultaneously pleased that it was not and yet pleased that it was squarely addressed here in an appropriately dramatic way.
Alan Cumming was, of course, a delight. His portrayal of King James was pitch perfect and simultaneously funny and threatening. I have been a fan of his for ages, and was very exited to see him officially appear in the Whoniverse. Although it is worth noting that he previously in the direct-to-video thriller The Airzone Solution in 1993 which featured four out of the five (at the time) living actors who had portrayed the Doctor. It only took him another 25 years to be cast in the series proper. In all fairness, that was the same year he played the role of the Emcee in Cabaret and he's been kinda busy ever since.
On the whole this was a solid episode. Not quite in the very top tier of the season, but very close behind in the second group. I liked it a lot.
And now, off to Colorado for some training and then some fun in the snow. I'll be back in a week.
Companion(s): Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan
Episode(s): The Witchfinders
Steps Walked: 7,309 today, 4,450,852 total
Distance Walked: 3.75 miles today, 2,331.15 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 100 today, 11,100 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 5,665 total
Weight: 263.62 lbs (five day moving average), net change -43.68 lbs