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Reviewed: Doctor Who Series 14 — Rogue

Doctor Who has always been a progressive and trailblazing series both in front of and behind the camera.

From original producer Verity Lambert being integral to the series initial creation in an era when women were hardly given such power in television all the way up to the current era where the Doctor is both coloured and gay, it has never backed away from picking up a mantle for a good cause, much like the programme’s namesake.

There are episodes that highlight this kind of tone across its history like the environmental message of The Green Death or the modern slavery tones reached in Planet of the Ood.

Rogue definitely will become one of those polarising episodes that reflect what is being discussed in current culture and politics despite possibly angering parts of the viewing public.

In other circles, it will most likely be praised as another example of Doctor Who displaying the savvy and the courage to keep up with the times.

The main factor that really comes in to steal the show is currently a man just as much a mystery as the Doctor once was to us as well as bring another person in the Who universe who refuses to have a surname, wishing to be known simply as Rogue.

Rogue is an interesting fellow, and I, along with many others, felt a very strong Captain Jack Harkness vibe from him and I think that might have been the idea, a kind of: “What if we did the introduction of Captain Jack Harkness over again but instead of falling for Rose Tyler and dancing on a spaceship, he falls for the Doctor and they bravely dance together in a ballroom?”

The result is a very good story where the Doctor loses a love yet again in a heart-breaking manner — let’s be honest, even if you hated the idea of the Doctor having a love life since The TV Movie, you’ve got to admit it is a love life filled with tragedy and loss.

As far as powerful scenes go, you couldn’t do much better than the Doctor and Rogue dancing together in 1813 in a way that not only breaks the conventions of that time period but also thumbs its nose at those in today’s society that still have views possibly stuck in the 19th Century.

As an episode, Rogue also keeps up the tradition of latter day Doctor Who adventures riffing on the less serious aspects of human society, this time with the art of cosplay, represented in the form of the shape shifting Chuldur, who travel about looking for new roles to play as they use living beings like costumes.

Looking and sounding like birds, the aliens were interesting enough although I wish we explored more of the why of their gruesome past time — but as the real thrust of the script seems to be the relationship between the Doctor and Rogue, I’m not surprised their motivation took a back seat.

Despite this, the Chuldur were still well rounded enough to be the main threat of the story, especially when they showed up in numbers, upping the ante nicely.

Another character of interest to fans is the Duchess of Pemberton, played by Indira Varma, who previously played Suzie Costello in the first series of Torchwood on television as well as some later audio plays.

Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) continues to show herself to be a very worthy companion to our wandering Time Lord, being the right mix of intelligence and caring, although I will admit to feeling a sort of fatigue for how most of the ‘new’ series of Doctor Who companions have had some sort of a meta-crisis, been an impossible girl, can conjure snow, or are made to be otherwise very special and unique people in the universe.

I’ll wait it out over the next two weeks before really coming down too hard on that aspect of this series, as it may all have a brilliant and relevant resolution; I miss the days of the average companion who did not have a destiny to save all of creation.

Being someone who watched this in America on Disney+, I wish they had left the small tribute to William Russell on the streaming services version of Rogue, as it would’ve been nice for those in the know and a great nod to one of the original artists to get Doctor Who off the ground.

All in all, Rogue, although not the best this new series has had to offer so far by any means (that one goes to the Doctor-lite episode 73 Yards unless the next two episodes top it), this week’s adventure was still good Doctor Who with an intriguing new character and a powerful statement.

The show is still Doctor Who and very much still worth watching.

Thomas Spychalski

Reviewed: Doctor Who Series 14 — Rogue

by Thomas Spychalski time to read: 3 min
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