An excellent one-off horror story for the Doctor and Donna.


“Wild Blue Yonder” was the second Doctor Who special of 2023 and it was the boldest episode of the Fourteenth Doctor’s adventure.

The Doctor and Donna have been travelling across time and space with the TARDIS going haywire. The time machine leaves the Doctor and Donna on a spaceship at the edge of the universe, because of its defense mechanism. They must discover what the danger on the ship is and defeat it so the TARDIS can return.

During Russell T. Davies’ original run as Doctor Who’s showrunner, he was able to produce some experimental episodes. Some were great, like “Blink” and “Turn Left,” others were not so well received, i.e. “Love and Monsters” and “Sleep No More.”  “Wild Blue Yonder” was a minimalist episode, because of its setting and only having four characters. This made the episode more unique and concentrated.

“Wild Blue Yonder” was an episode of two halves: the first was the mystery around what happened to the spaceship, and the second was about the Doctor and Donna stopping the universe-ending threat from escaping the spaceship. It was a simple premise that was done effectively. It shows how less is more.

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“Wild Blue Yonder” did bear some similarities to other Doctor Who episodes from the Russell and Moffat eras. The abandoned spaceship that has a monster on it was like “The Girl in the Fireplace,” with the TARDIS trying to escape a threat was like “Utopia,” the need to prevent a monster from reaching a populated planet was like “The Waters of Mars,” and the feature of doppelgangers where characters didn’t know who was the original or the copy. There was also a bit of The Thing since the classic sci-fi horror film was about a remote scientific outpost needing to stop an alien entity from reaching civilization. All of these similarities risked making “Wild Blue Yonder” feel derivative, but the special was able to repackage these ideas, so they felt fresh.

One of the strengths of the small cast was that it resulted in the special being a more character-driven episode, since the Doctor and Donna bonded and had a heart-to-heart as they tried to figure out a way to defeat the aliens. Both characters had scars and worries, especially the Doctor. Russell continued his ideas from his original tenure on Doctor Who as shown when Donna asked if he missed his home world and he didn’t answer. The villains needed to spend more time with Doctor and Donna so they could copy them better.

“Wild Blue Yonder” was a special that embraced its horror nature. Exploring the abandoned spaceship had a haunting quality, especially when The Doctor and Donna see the pilot’s body orbiting the ship. This part of the Special felt like it was influenced by H.P. Lovecraft’s work and Event Horizon. When the doppelgangers malfunctioned, they were monstrous when they were distorted, and they moved inhumanly. The Doctor’s doppelganger did a backward spider walk like Regan in the director’s cut of The Exorcist.

Whilst “Wild Blue Yonder” was a smaller-scale story, the showrunners flexed their special effects budget. There were big CGI sequences and landscapes when The Doctor and Donna journey up the spaceship. The creatives had ambition, but Doctor Who was a British production with limitations. Scenes of the spaceship changing its configuration looked like a video game. Doctor Who can get away with hokey special effects since this has always been a part of the show’s nature.

“Wild Blue Yonder” was an effective horror story in the Doctor Who canon. It was a small-scale character-driven story that had some big special effects and the standard Doctor Who universe ending threat.

Kieran Freemantle
Kieran Freemantle
I am a film critic/writer based in the UK, writing for Entertainment Fuse, Rock n Reel Reviews, UK Film Review and Meniscus Sunrise. I have worked on film shoots. I support West Ham and Bath Rugby. Follow me on Twitter @FreemantleUK.
An excellent one-off horror story for the Doctor and Donna.Review: DOCTOR WHO - WILD BLUE YONDER