Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Doctor Who Series 8

This past Saturday was the first without a new Doctor Who episode since August. It's okay, I'm crying about it too.
The good news is, I'm gonna review the 8th series for you here. Its ups, its downs, its good moments, its annoying ones.

But first, let's give River a moment:

So, now that you've been warned of spoilers, let's start at the beginning of the series.

Many Doctor Who fans had been waiting for over 8 months for a new episode since The Time of the Doctor aired Christmas 2013. But since my wife and I began watching Doctor Who 1/1/2014 and got to The Time of the Doctor in July, we only had a month to wait.

So, we return to Victorian England to see Strax, Jenny, and Vastra help Clara transition from Matt Smith's really young Doctor to Peter Capaldi's....let's just say he's older. Deep Breath, though a little lengthy, was a very interesting episode. It brought in the series villain, some woman named Missy. For a return to the series with a brand new Doctor, it was well-done in my opinion. it gave us some insight to the Doctor trying to understand who he is. It brought us the second time a companion has had to deal with a new Doctor in the modern series. (Which to be fair is the 2nd of 3 possibilities.) And of course, it brought us the return of many-a-fan's favorite trio of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. Strax of course made the episode completely enjoyable with his interactions with Clara.

I could probably talk about Deep Breath for a whole blog post or two. But the series did continue on with some decent episodes. Into the Dalek brought us some of our new Doctor's antics and his kindness toward his greatest enemy. Although, Capaldi's nicknaming this Dalek as Rusty, seemed nothing short of Matt Smith's nickname for the Cyberman head as Handles. Don't know why, but it bothered me.

We once again got to meet a historical figure in Doctor Who. After Dickens, Shakespeare, Churchill, and Van Gogh, we got to meet Robin Hood. I loved how the Doctor didn't believe that Robin Hood was real and tried to prove it. Of course, Clara is smitten with Robin Hood (despite having met Danny in the previous episode.)

After that, you get this season's creep factor episode in Listen. It is one of the most beautifully written episodes with a decent "wow" moment. Having Clara meet a very, very young Doctor and being the cause of the Doctor's curiosity was an awesome moment.

Then you've got the boring trilogy of episodes. Yeah, I liked Time Heist for the Ocean's 11 aspect of it. But it was predictable and felt like they merged a few past episodes into this one because someone had no original idea. And then The Caretaker was okay, but in the end, made no sense. There was no reason for the Doctor to call Clara and Danny out of "parents day". But as I watched it twice, he does point to them both. The only "reasoning" is he knew Danny would look after Clara. Kill the Moon was extremely lackluster, with the exception of the end when Clara utters this awesome line:

Greatness returned in Mummy on the Orient Express. I did not like the similarity between the flying train vs the flying boat from Voyage of the Damned. However, this was a pretty awesome voyage. After Clara's tirade, this being her "swan song" with the Doctor *cough*liar*cough*, this episode had two moments that would make any fan of Doctor Who (both classic and modern) smile. First: the Doctor doesn't say it, but he does in fact offer a Jelly Baby. And then, for the modern fans, as the Mummy goes to attack him, he asks the quintessential question that hearkens back to Eccleston and Rose: Are you my mummy?

Flatline and In the Forest of the Night were both good Clara-centric episodes. Watching this character actually lie to her boyfriend. Flatline was, for me, what Listen actually tried to be. Listen tried to be this season's Blink. But Flatline, I think, topped it. Clara without the Doctor was awesome. And really, Danny has got to be the most forgiving guy out there for how many times Clara has deceived him. In the Forest of the Night, he still doesn't care. I did like how the children were used for this episode, despite the fact that they seem to young compared to the other students at Coal Hill.....

And then we get the two-part finale. It starts with another item on the "Why we hate Moffat" list. The extremely senseless death of Danny Pink. Seriously, did the writers put themselves in a hole? Did someone stop liking Danny? Were we afraid of an Amy/Rory repeat? Blah. Now this gives Clara a reason to die. Veto!

Of course, we got to see who Missy really was. Were you surprised? I wasn't. What? Wait! How? was the clue she gives earlier in the season. She refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend. As a viewer, I questioned why would she say that. Was she someone from the Doctor's future, like River? Was she River somehow regenerated? No, River was eccentric, not crazy. Could this have been Clara somehow? Or Rose? No, neither one made sense. Romana could have fit the bill, but it just didn't seem right. brought us to the Master. First: come on, her name was Missy! Couldn't connect Missy to Mistress to Master? Second: Who else would be this plotting? Third: Who else had such a history with the Doctor to call him her boyfriend, even jokingly.

So Danny's dead. And then Missy goes on a "bananas" killing spree and kills Osgood! What? Why would you need to do that? This is why Moffat needs to be smacked so hard he'll regenerate. There was absolutely no good reason to kill the character that represented every geek ideal. It'd be like killing Felicity Smoak on Arrow (that better not happen!). Ugh! Thanks a lot Moffat!

And then they make it look like Missy had killed Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. Thanks to her Cyberman-daddy, Kate didn't die. Which of course made no sense to me, but whatever. Time-traveling Cyberman, I suppose. I do think Danny's final act was selfless, despite it hurting our Clara.

But see, my fear going into this series was that Clara would die and leave the show. So thankfully, that didn't happen. And I was really glad that they were able to create a segue into the Christmas episode (for the first time since season 3's Voyage of the Damned.) But, it was a very upsetting finale. It ranks 4th to last for me (barely above Time Heist) on the 8th series. And the only reason it edges that out is because Osgood said "bow ties are cool".

So, that's my review of the 8th Series of Doctor Who.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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