The Nightmare World of ChinballsThe Dark Herald
If you google the name, Chris Chibnall, the second “people also ask” is, “Why is Doctor Who so bad now?”
Think about that.
Put yourself in his shoes.
You are famous enough that people want to google your name and the second most common question they ask about you is, “Why are you such fuck up?
It is often said, the key to the answer is to ask the right question. Maybe, “Why is Doctor Who so bad now?” Is the wrong question. Perhaps a better question would be, “Why did the last season of Doctor Who look like the video version of a Gamma Male’s ‘wall of text’ screed?”
I remember seeing an old video clip of a young teenage Chibnall when the original run of Doctor Who was in its last years.
It was a panal of teenage Doctor Who fans. Credit where it’s due; his criticisms were incisive and well presented. But his attitude reeked of ‘I can do this show so much better than the current writers without even trying.’ His Gamma radiation was so thick he either killed everyone in the studio or turned them into the Hulk.
Years later when it was finally his turn to write for Doctor Who, he only wrote four episodes; 42, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three
“42,” was his only David Tennent episode and if you saw it you probably don’t remember it because it was boring and derivative. The story was that the Doctor only had 42 minutes to save a spaceship that was falling into a star. The crew were turning into solar-zombies because you could catch solar zombieism by looking directly at the star. The star in question was an alien life form and the crew had been illegally mining it for fuel. The Doctor solves everything by dumping the ship’s fuel. Companion Martha was trapped on fueltank and was going to die but the Doctor flicked a switch and saved her.
42 featured all of the hallmarks of Chibnall as a writer. First and foremost, the countdown. All four of his episodes always featured this hackneyed contrivance. Okay, I’ve used it myself but have always been embarrassed about it. And, I’ve never used a countdown as plot driver for the whole story, nor have I used one to mask the fact that the story doesn’t make any sense.
“Wait a minute. Why does turning off the lights solve everything?”
“No time to explain! Look at the clock! Look at it! LOOK AT IT!!!!”
Another prominent feature of this writing was a constant stream of new threats. Yes, you need to keep making things difficult for your hero, but you need to build those coherently and consecutively. Just suddenly throwing a bunch of new, out the blue obstacles at your protagonist doesn’t fit the bill.
The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood was a two-parter for Moffat. It featured an old enemy from the first run called the Silurians (intelligent dinosaurs who look like actors in rubber suits). The Silurians dug down into the Earth when the asteroid was in sight and then went to sleep for a few hundred million years. Occasionally humans wake them, and they want the planet back.
Some deep drill project did the job this time. Ticking clock is established for when the Silurians attack. Sidequest: one of the Silurians is captured and all that the humans have to do is not kill her. That’s it. Simple. The Doctor makes that very clear, no killing the hostage.
When the Doctor is gone the Iguana-Woman from the Deep starts sneering, “One of you is going to kill me…I know which one of you is going to kill me.” She seems extraordinarily pleased with herself about her imminent demise. And sure enough, some woman kills her with a Taser. Apparently, that’s the Silurian’s one weakness.
“Wait a minute. How did the Iguana-woman from the Deep know that that woman was going to kill her?“
“No time to explain! Look at the clock! Look at it! LOOK AT IT!!!!”
The Doctor solves everything by pointing his sonic screwdriver at Silurians and making it go, “wrrrrrrrreeeee.” And before someone says something in the comments. No, that is not how he solved all of his problems every time. Certainly, the Sonic screwdriver was used to smooth over a few bumps in various storylines and to move things along over the past decades. But it was never used to flat out solve an entire plot.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. The name says it all. The countdown this time is that a bunch of missiles are going to hit a ship with dinosaurs in it. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the plot this time. To combat this problem the doctor assembles a dream team that consists of Amy and Rory (the current companions at this time). a big game Hunter from 1902. And Queen Nefertiti. No, I didn’t make that last one up. The Hunter would shoot the dinosaurs and Nefertiti would outrageously hit on the Doctor, (that was what she brought to the party). The Doctor presses a button and blows up the missiles (I think, honestly I don’t remember but the ending was about that inspired).
The Power of Three.
This one was so close to almost good. One day everyone on earth wakes up to discover that everywhere around them are a bunch of small black 3 inch cubes. Nobody has any idea how they got there. They don’t do anything they just sit there. The Doctor examines one and comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t know what the hell it is. And then everyone more or less gets on with their lives for a year. This was actually some decent writing on Chibnall’s part and I’m not even joking. The characters and their problems develop naturally for the first two acts. I can give credit where it’s due, Chibnall can actually do decent character studies. There is a little girl that stares at people In silent menace. there is a guy that wears a surgeon’s mask over a cube-shaped hole in his face. The threats seemed to be building in a coherent and consecutive order.
Anyway, the plot is developing nicely for once and then disaster strikes, we reach act three.
That is when the cubes start counting down.
It turns out that the cubes have been studying humanity for a year trying to determine the best way to kill us all. Turns out it is heart attacks. That was the plan. The little girl it turned out was an android who was scouting us, which was exactly what the cubes were doing anyway, so, in true Chibnall fashion it was a plot line that went absolutely nowhere. The Doctor, Amy and Rory follow cube-face through a portal in the hospital which connects to a hidden spaceship in orbit of earth. There the Doctor confronts the Cubist. The Cubist is not exactly the new Davros or the Master or Missy. He is a one dimensional villain in a rubber mask who sneers a lot. He wants to kill off the human race because he doesn’t want us colonizing space. No real motivation beyond that. And the way he is planning to kill off the rest of us is to… send… more… cubes.
Then the Cubist teleports out of the story leaving the Doctor aboard his ship with his all-powerful sonic screwdriver. Which he promptly uses to reverse the effects of the cubes, curing all the heart attacks that they inflicted. Then he waves it around some more until it blows up the ship.
These were Chris Chibnall’s contributions to Doctor Who.
And then he was given the keys to the TARDIS. A lifelong fan of the show and now he was going to prove to everyone how good his vision for the show was going to be.
Chibnall was in heaven, until he wasn’t.
His tenure as showrunner must have been the worst time of his life. For three years everyone on Earth has been telling him how every single decision he’s made is completely wrong. And there was no way for him to yell, “no, you’re the one that’s stupid!” No way to leave a fifteen-thousand-word retort in the comments section.
This is hell on Earth for a Gamma male. Chibnall was under a constant deluge of criticism and had no way to insist that he was still the smartest boy in the class. Sure, he could try to sooth himself by listening to the shill media. But when you are fundamentally insecure about everything, criticism, (unfounded or not) will always sting. Higher ups on the socio-sexual ladder will either ignore criticism as wrong or after a bit of consideration accept the revelation of a flaw that can hopefully be corrected. Gammas simply can’t do that. They feel shamed by criticism and their instinctive reaction is to hit the “eject shame now” button.
There has been no way for Chris Chibnall to come in from the rain. At first, he could look at the huge ratings numbers from Jodie Whittaker’s premier episode, which did indeed take in eight million viewers. Allowing Chibnall to do the flounce. But the ratings have fallen through the basement for the past two seasons. There was no way he could tell himself his Doctor Who was still a big thing when the BBC was shaking its head sadly and taking out the budget cutting shears over and over again. The BBC loves the message on Woke Who but the money has to go where it will do the most good and an unwatched series isn’t that.
The Wokeness was the only thing providing Chibnall with any kind of cover at all, so he kept doubling down on it. If his few remaining viewers couldn’t defend the story they could at least defend the politics.
But finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore. Do you know what the Gamma Wall of Text really is?
It’s a tantrum.
And that is what the Timeless Child was.
It was an, “if you don’t like it, I’m going just break everyone’s toys,” tantrum.
And that tantrum broke the back of its viewership. The Doctor Who New Year’s Special was an all-time low. He’s lost his star. Jodie Whittaker is reliably rumored to be out at the end of season 13. The franchise is so damaged at this point hiring a new Who has got to be a big question. As Woke as the BBC is now, how long do they keep this embarrassment on life-support.
Chibnall has made it clear that he’s not leaving. Which is not a surprise as SJWs always double down.
And Chibnall will keep doing that rather than face the horror of his abject failure.
In true Gamma fashion he will insist that the Titanic is just fine and that there was nothing at all wrong with his decision making even as it sinks around him.