Doctor Who: The Giggle Review

Old friends and older enemies return, but it’s not all fun and games… Spoilers ahead.

David Tennant and Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who
Photo: bbc

I’ll just say it – I don’t want him to go. For as much excitement as there is around a new era of Doctor Who with Ncuti Gatwa in the TARDIS, and rightly so, it has been an absolute treat to have David Tennant’s Doctor (well, one of them) back, especially with the ever-brilliant Donna at his side.

The bursts of fury, the moments of melancholia, the hugging, the brainy specs… If this really is the last time Tennant ever dons the skinny suit, these three specials might be the most triumphant final appearance of any Doctor to date. (Well, possibly tied with a certain Curator, if that even counts. Who nose, eh?)

There’s one last adventure to enjoy before the Fourteenth Doctor bows out, however, and it begins in Georgian-era London with a visit to a toy shop. It’s being run by the immediately-sinister Neil Patrick Harris who is, naturally, the Toymaker behind the many dolls and amusements for sale. This customer is only interested in a particular ventriloquist dummy, though, and after an extremely awkward conversation with the Toymaker (“I was born in Cheltenham!”) he returns to the workshop of his boss – a determined inventor working on a way to see by wireless.

What’s significant about this understated moment harks all the way back to First Doctor serial “The Celestial Toymaker“, in which British actor Michael Gough portrayed the same character, but with a stereotypically Asian aesthetic. By having Neil Patrick Harris fluctuate between overbaked accents, coupled with his snide remark towards Baird’s assistant, Russell T. Davies focuses the original’s unfortunate of-the-era attitude into a deliberate, sneering bigotry inherent to the Toymaker himself, making him even nastier in this day and age.


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