TV review

New Nu-Who the review – The Devil’s chord

today15 May 2024 24 4

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Doctor Who, Series 1. Episode 2, Ncuti and Millie as the Doctor and Millie dressed in 1960's era clothing

Series 1 - Episode 2. The Devil's Chord

One episode down of series one, or is it series 14? Time travel can really confuse you! Anyway, one episode down, seven to go! Last Saturday, we were treated to a double feature of the latest series of Doctor Who.

The second episode, titled “The Devil’s Chord,” took us to the swinging sixties—the year where it all began for us and our time-traveling Doctor. This time, we found ourselves at Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles are about to record their first album about their pet… dog? Put it this way, Karvanista would be pleased, I hope?

This episode delighted fans with two references to the very first episode: “The Unearthly Child.” From the Doctor’s dialogue about their former place of residence with their granddaughter Susan on Totter’s Lane, Shoreditch, to the billboard promoting a fictional musician called Chris Waite—the very musician Susan happens to be listening to in her classroom back in 1963. Also, did I mention this billboard is on the rooftop of Abbey Road Studios or, for the average Newportian, Newport Market? It’s always a pleasure seeing local places in an episode of Doctor Who. I also have reason to believe that Tredegar House will be making an appearance later in the series.

The episode kicks off with a funny, weird, silly opening scene, but then we find ourselves still in the realm of the Toymaker. And what better way to continue with the fantasy realm than to introduce the Toymaker’s child; Maestro (Jinkx Monsoon).

RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Jinkx Monsoon makes their debut as a worthy opponent for the Doctor. They’re mad, completely MAD! And I like mad villains in Doctor Who. Maestro is the God of music, manipulating the realms of reality itself by stripping everything of music.

The concept is captivating. Many diehard fans on social media are foaming at the mouth with rage, while I’m eager to learn more about this strange and beautiful realm the Toymaker has trapped us in.

These two episodes have me pondering: where is Davies and Bad Wolf Studios taking us with this concept? The Doctor and Ruby are at the early stages of a mystery that needs to be solved.

The second question is: how will they escape this reality? Upon reflecting on previous episodes, mainly the three anniversary specials, I’m left with an additional question: if this is a fantasy realm constructed by the Celestial Toymaker, is Donna actually dead, and were the events of “The Star Beast” the cause of her demise? Maybe we’ll find out, or maybe Donna will be left happily living with family and Company at the Fourteenth Doctor’s house. Who knows?!

“The Devil’s Chord” features a small cameo from Doctor Who royalty, June Hudson. Many fans know her as a member of the costume department of Classic Doctor Who, and those from the NuWho era might remember her from the 2016 spinoff series Class. From the dialogue, we learn that the Doctor and Ruby have been traveling for some time now. The scene that had me beaming was the subtle nod to “The Pyramids of Mars” (1975), hinting at a future of Sutekh’s domination of Earth, where humanity without music would result in a nuclear holocaust—very apt for the escalating tensions with Russia.

You can certainly tell this episode was written by a fan. I get the vibe that it’s a fan who has missed writing new adventures for the benevolent Time Lord.

The plot thickens even more when we’re teased with another entity referred to as “The Oldest One.” JUST who is the oldest? And why is Maestro so scared of him? A stab in the dark here, but is it one of the two Guardians of Existence? The second episode has certainly left us with more questions than answers!

The episode comes to a climactic end where the Doctor attempts to compose “The Devil’s Chord” to banish Maestro from the realm, only for Paul McCartney and John Lennon to save the day by finishing the piece and returning music to all of existence—a cheesy musical number and a cameo from Murray Gold, the maestro behind the music of the series (2005-2018 & 2023).

This episode was completely and utterly BONKERS! Filled with cameos from Doctor Who alumni and Susan Twist as “the Tealady.” We will be seeing her again in episode three titled “Boom,” where she’ll be playing the role of “Ambulance.”

Written by Daniel Price
Photos courtesy of BBC Pictures

Written by: Ian.Lamsdale

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