As a Doctor Who site which purports to value ‘tradition,’ it’s nice to see a new story come along which fits so nicely into the ‘traditional’ mode. In Capaldi’s last lap this distinction went to Empress of Mars from Mark Gatiss, who had a track record for hueing most closely to that ‘traditional’ Doctor Who mindset, predictably with varying results.
It’s the consensus of the Tour Supremos that (so far) The Witchfinders, even in a Series of stand-alone stories, fits most neatly into that spot. The Doctor and ‘fam’ get in, get to know the locals a bit, and then find and defeat the (usually alien) threat, and then get out. The fun, and Doctor Who’s great strength, is all of the variations that can be had along the way. A pseudo-historical, and The Witchfinders is the third one in eight so far this Series, is a tried and true story vein for this.
‘Best’ of all we add hesitantly, the Morax are just straight-up villains, imprisoned and, since being accidentally released, bent on out-and-out vengeance and world domination. There’s no misunderstanding or variant within. And that’s okay. This Series has been undergirded by subtle twists of either intent or misdirection about the source, and subsequent, solution to the problem the plot presents. The feint in The Witchfinders is that there is no feint, and there’s something cheerfully satisfying about that.
Of course, upon the reveal of the Morax Queen, we also thought of the ‘wood queen’ from Knock Knock, but the gargantuan plot holes which doomed that story and sent it to the bottom of our Series 10 Dynamic Ratings were not present in The Witchfinders, where (to date) it has settled into the top half of our Series 11 Dynamic Ratings.