Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's about time...

... to talk about Doctor Who.

As of recently I've seen all of series eight, made up of the following episodes.

"Deep Breath"
"Into the Dalek"
"Robot of Sherwood"
"Time Heist"
"The Caretaker"
"Kill the Moon"
"Mummy on the Orient Express"
"In the Forest of the Night"
"Dark Water"*
"Death in Heaven"*
* two-parter

This is a very good slate, overall. Some of it is better than others, but none lack at least an identifiable good idea.

If there's a flaw to this series it might be trying too hard for the big statement. Both of Capaldi's immediate successors had an episode based on a deconstruction of their characters, an enemy from within rather than without: David Tennant in "Midnight" and Matt Smith in "The Girl Who Waited." Capaldi is faced with at least three of these just in his first season. "Listen", "The Caretaker" and "Kill the Moon" are all statement episodes along those lines, psychoanalyzing the new Doctor, Clara and her boyfriend/Doctor skeptic Danny. Maybe "In the Forest of the Night" too.

Since thsi could be a little overwhelming in the aggregate, "Mummy" (pictured above) kind of became my favorite. There's a little self criticism in this one too, which is healthy. But it takes place in the context of an entertainingly insane story set on a space train, with 20s period costuming and a mocking computer as well as the mummy. A full meal, in other words.

The two-part series finale - for those wondering, series means season in the UK - is a very close second. This is the story in which writer/producer Steven Moffat SPOILER brings back the Master SPOILER BONUS as a woman. Since this establishes the changing of sexes among Time Lords as a thing that actually happens as opposed to a mere theoretical possibility, it clearly sets up the Doctor himself to become a herself down the line. And while body changing has been a constant on the show since 1966, a huge number of Doctor Who fans regard a woman Doctor as the Great Hell No.

For this reason, Moffat had to up his game and tell the best story possible around this idea. He pretty much succeeds. Since the story begins with Danny dying and getting sent to an afterlife of a sort while the Doctor and a stricken Clara follow him, it puts the characters through the wringer and kind of leaves them there. On the way is some inventive action and spookiness. As "Missy", Michelle Gomez makes a frightening and charming villain.

Okay, so that was long but it was kind of fun to write.


susan said...

We watched one episode of Dr. Who when he was played by David Tennant (must have been on Netflix). Unfortunately we didn't find it as interesting as the now very old silly episodes from long ago. Then again, we did watch some of Tom Baker's shows and were surprised that he was a lot more arrogant than we'd remembered.

Anyway, you do make Series 8 sound pretty interesting. Maybe we'll give the Dr. another try if the opportunity comes this way again.

I didn't know you watched television.

susan said...

David Tennant's new assistant on the episode we watched had some sort of hysterical relationship with her mother. It was that that made it hard for us to watch.

You've convinced us to try again - on the Netflix list now.

Ben said...

The arrogance with which Tom Baker played the role was, shall we say, rather method. But it worked for a lot of his stories and he was fun to watch.

Anyway, the show still varies. There are things I like about it more than others. As with back in the 20th century it's best when it's out and out weird.

As for TV I catch up on things here and there. Online, more often than not. My small TV is mostly used for DVD watching.