The Giggle

The Giggle Ushers In A New Era In The Whoniverse

Dept. of Regeneration and Rejuvenation


As Russell T. Davies and the rest of the Doctor Who team were ramping up the publicity for the upcoming 60th anniversary specials, there were a lot of revelations surrounding the finale, especially with regards to the inevitable regeneration of David Tennant’s 14th Doctor into Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor. At first, Davies had come out to say that instead of continuing into season 14, his new take would begin from scratch with the 15th Doctor’s season being Season 1. Soon after that, he stated that this last of the three specials may end up dividing the Who fan base due to its “controversial events.” Needless to say, a lot of us were intrigued, confused, and perhaps just a slightly bit worried over what he was talking about. Now that The Giggle is finally upon us, there are indeed a lot of questions and concerns that need to be addressed.

Now before we get into the “controversial” bits of this episode, let’s talk about why this was the best of the three specials.

Win, Lose. or Draw

The Giggle

In the modern age, humanity has ended up subconsciously playing multiple games with themselves; both mind games and physical ones. It is apparent that we have become our own worst enemies. A fact that makes our minds the the perfect playground for one of the Doctor’s oldest villains: The Celestial Toymaker.

By way of some clever tinkering of history, the Toymaker pits humanity against each other, and it’s up to The Doctor to face his biggest game yet. This time, however, he may not be able to save everyone. The Giggle is a story that allows us to see The Doctor at his most vulnerable. A Time Lord, shrouded with centuries of guilt and remorse, and uncertain of who he really is, at a time when the Earth needs him the most.

Much like Wild Blue Yonder, Davies has written yet another concise episode that is all killer and no filler. It is frightening. It is socially conscious. It is emotionally charged. The stakes are unbelievably high this time, and just like we saw in Journeys End, David Tennant brings all his prowess to bear in yet another heartbreaking turn as The Doctor. This is a Doctor who is tired and shattered from all the running he’s had to do his whole life, and Tennant’s nuanced mix of internal and external acting showcases the perfect amount of exhaustion and cynicism towards the human race. There are moments when you can almost see all 13 Doctors present behind his eyes.

I Challenge You to a Game

The Giggle

Now we diehard Whovians know that The Master is the Doctor’s arch nemesis. The Joker to his Batman. The Moriarty to his Holmes. In The Giggle, however, The Celestial Toymaker gives The Master a run for his money. (Heck, he’s even trapped The Master within a gold tooth!) Just like with The Master, a character as flamboyantly villainous as The Celestial Toymaker requires a great actor to bring him to life. While Michael Gough brought an extremely charming subtlety to the role 47 years ago, Neil Patrick Harris has updated the character into this wickedly charismatic being.

From the moment the episode begins, NPH delivers the performance of a lifetime. His version of The Toymaker is a man that you are so attracted to, yet so incredibly terrified of at the same time. The glee he takes in destroying humanity has an almost Joker-esque quality to it. He is the perfect foe for The Doctor to face, especially in his ability to toy with his emotions and ramp up all of the guilt that slowly stews within him. NPH has taken a long forgotten villain and made him unforgettable. (Also, I’m pretty sure you’ll never be able to listen to “Spice Up Your Life” in the same way again.)

Life After The Doctor

The Giggle

With The Giggle, Davies also tackles a lingering question about The Doctor’s traveling companions. What happens to them after their time with The Doctor? (Assuming they don’t die, or end up being touched by a Weeping Angel.) Is there life after The Doctor? With Bonnie Langford’s return as Mel Bush, former companion of the 6th and 7th Doctor, we get a look at just how difficult things can be on Earth after you’ve traveled through space and time.

We tend to forget just how much The Doctor can alter a companion’s life, and Davies does well to give us a moment to explore that aspect of the series. It is also a source of guilt that The Toymaker exploits, reminding The Doctor of companions lost within his care, thereby bringing a sense of fear and worry for the future companions of the Time Lord.

Regenerate? How About Rejuvenate?

The Giggle

Brace yourself. Because we’re about to jump into spoiler territory.

With every Doctor’s end comes the inevitable moment of regeneration. It’s a pivotal moment within The Doctor’s life, where he/she/they assume a new body and face to continue on their timeless adventures. It’s something fans have become accustomed to over the last 60 years. It’s what we’ve come to expect whenever a new actor takes on the role.

Davies, however, had other plans.

The Giggle changes those rules and upends the accepted mythology by giving us our very first “Bi-Generation.” Love it or hate it, the act of “bi-generating” is now canon within the Whoniverse. I too was left aghast As David Tennant and Ncuti Gatwa were separating themselves from each other. What the hell was happening? But while some die hard Whovians may be cringing and shaking their fists at this extremely surprising rule change, I for one, welcome it.

It was an exciting moment that brought back the wonder of Doctor Who. Finding interesting ways to move forward is always what this series has done at its best. (Remember when we thought The Doctor could only regenerate 13 times?) That said, this new “feature” of The Doctor raises some rather interesting theories and questions.

Bi-Generational Gap

The Giggle

Nothing marks the beginning of a new era quite like a new concept. And with this “Bi-Generation,” Davies has set up a completely different direction for the Whoniverse. What does it mean that there are now two Doctors within this universe? Sure David Tennant’s Doctor is “recovering” with the Nobles, but what happens when he’s ready to go back out into the universe and start “Doctoring” again? What does that mean for Ncuti Gatwa, who, in his brief time on screen already exudes the kind of charm and charisma that we’ve come to expect from the character. The man is an utter delight. (Even when clad in his tighty-whities and a pair of Chucks!)

While I am incredibly excited to see where Davies and Gatwa take The Doctor, I can’t help but wonder what it means for Tennant and Tate. Yes, the both of them got their happy ending, but it’s an open enough one that could see them spinoff into more adventures of their own. We’ve always only had one Doctor Who story happening on screen at any given time, but who knows what this new Disney money might bring?

The End Is the Beginning Is the End

The Giggle

The Giggle is a momentous special. Not only is it the culmination of these anniversary celebrations, it also marks the end of an era. And while it’s always hard to say goodbye, it’s heartwarming to know that this 14th incarnation of The Doctor can now rest easy and put his feet up for a while.

As we wait for the glorious return of The Doctor Who Christmas Special, I’m excited to see a Doctor who may just be a little bit light hearted and void of all that guilt. It’s an interesting premise and something to look forward to. But for now, my dear Doctor, thank you for all your years of service, and enjoy the happiest moment of your life.

Doctor Who: The Giggle is now streaming on Disney Plus and Disney Plus Hotstar.

Nick Dorian spent most of his childhood dreaming of being a plumber, mainly because he loved watching Super Mario go on adventures. When he heartbreakingly discovered actual plumbers don't go on great adventures in real life, he went on to sit in front of a TV or movie screen, watching more people go on adventures, and then talk to anybody around him about what he's seen, whether they liked it or not. Fast forward to today, he somehow managed to make watching movies and TV shows, and discussing them, an actual living. Which goes to show, dreams do come true. Except when you dream of being an Italian plumber who fights mushrooms and toads.

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