Thursday, September 24, 2015

Show Review: Doctor Who Series 8

Doctor Who Series 8

Recommended  for: Ages 10 to Adult

Join Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi for a whole new set of spellbinding adventures across time and space in the eighth season of BBC AMERICA s hit show Doctor Who! Jenna Coleman (Captain America: The First Avenger) returns as the Doctor s companion Clara for what promises to be the most electrifying season yet! 

Doctor Who. I freely admit that it is my favorite show. A several thousand year old alien who travels through time and space in a blue box saving the universe with a screwdriver? Yes, please. Regeneration is an important part of the show. That's when Time Lords, well, basically turn into someone else. They regenerate their bodies, and are recast as a new actor. It's always a little difficult to get used to the new Doctor. Sometimes it takes longer than others.

This is a season with a new Doctor. After spending several hundred years in a town called Christmas on Trenzalore protecting the universe, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) was granted a new regeneration cycle resulting in his regeneration into Twelve (Peter Capaldi). And this is Capaldi's first season. In general, I really liked it. But it's better analyzed by episode.

Deep Breath

A double length season opener, this episode is really where the new Doctor is introduced. I really liked this episode. The Doctor was hilarious with his regeneration brain, all confused over why there was only a bed in the bedroom, and all. And the eyebrows. They're attack eyebrows! The whole thing with the half-faced man was reminiscent of "The Girl in the Fireplace" a connection they clearly wanted the audience to make, though the Doctor missed it. Clara is struggling with "is this really the Doctor?" and he knows she will be, so he calls her from pre-regeneration to reassure her. So sad and sweet. The only thing I didn't like was Vastra and Jenny. Strax was hilarious as always, but they took the Madame Vastra/Jenny relationship further than before by having them "share air" when they're not supposed to breathe. Essentially coming off as a kiss. I looked away. And thankfully, they're not in any more episodes to date, so there really haven't been any more gay references. Thank goodness! 

Into the Dalek

As dalek episodes go, this one was unique. There's a supposedly good dalek, but it's injured, so the Doctor, Clara, and a team of the people who called him in go inside the dalek to heal it. Which doesn't exactly work out the way they intend, convincing the Doctor yet again that there is no such thing as a good dalek. But the worst part is when the dalek looks into him and sees hatred, causing him to struggle with "am I a good man?" for the rest of the season. This one fell a bit flat for me. Maybe it's because the Doctor is extra grumpy and not as caring of Clara. After all, she's his carer, "she cares so I don't have to." 

Robot of Sherwood

This one was also a little eh for me, but could just be because I have little interest in Robin Hood. It somewhat reminded me of Sarah Jane's first episode, though it worked out differently. And I absolutely loved the Doctor's reference to "Carnival of Monsters." The Doctor is convinced none of it is real, because he believes Robin Hood to be fictional. And when they figure out there are robots there, things really start happening. The Doctor shows his very childish side in this episode, and also his fears that he's not a hero, that he's not a good man, fears that Robin Hood shares. 


This is one of my favorite Series 8 episodes. What if we never are alone? What if there is some creature that has perfected camouflage so well that it is undetectable? What if there's a reason for the monster under the bed fear, the fear of the dark? What if that dream of getting out of bed and having a hand grab your ankle is real? Clara's date with fellow teacher Danny Pink is going disastrously when the Doctor shows up to take her for an adventure. And her distractions send them into Danny's past instead of her own, where they influence many things. They go into Clara's future, where a time traveler bearing an uncanny resemblance to Danny is stuck at the end of the world where he is terrified to open the door, yet must give himself a reminder. And they find themselves in a familiar barn, where Clara discovers where this idea of the Doctor's all started. Yet there are things unexplained. Things that cause this episode to remain frightening and mind boggling. 

Time Heist

"Robbing a bank. Robbing a whole bank. Beat that for a date." Clara is readying herself for a date with Danny when the Doctor's phone rings and they suddenly find themselves around a table with a cyborg and a mutant holding memory worms, told by recordings in their own voices that they agreed not only to a memory wipe, but to rob the most impregnable bank in the history of the universe. A bank terrorized by the captive "Teller" who locks onto your thoughts and melts your brain if you have guilty thoughts. It's quite the bank heist, as they follow what "the Architect" set out for them. And not exactly what you'd expect. This isn't my favorite episode, but I do really like it. Makes a lot more sense the second time around. 

The Caretaker

This is a more character focused episode, specifically, the Doctor finally meeting Danny, and Danny discovering that Clara has been lying to him. The Doctor gets a job as a temporary caretaker at Coal Hill School where Clara works (the school Susan Foreman attended!) because there is an alien threat he needs to take care of. The Doctor takes an instant dislike to Danny because of his past as a soldier...because he reminds the Doctor too much of himself, and he despises himself. He even refuses to accept that Danny is a math teacher, nicknaming him "PE." Danny learns what's really going on with Clara, which hurts him, but he cares about her enough to stick it out, to protect her, and ultimately to save the school. This episode introduces a whole new dynamic to the series. I like it fairly well. 

Kill the Moon

I'm going to say up front that I didn't really like this episode. It was better the second time, but the Doctor's really kind of a jerk in it. The Doctor and Clara take Coal Hill student Courtney Woods, "disruptive influence," to the moon in the future. Gravity is acting strange, there are enormous germs all around which they fight off with antibacterial spray, and the moon is waking up. The moon is an egg. People want to kill it. Courtney wants to save it. The Doctor decides it's a decision for the humans to make, and he leaves. Which makes Clara furious at him, and determined she is done. I really don't blame her. Critical time, and he leaves, because he "knows" she'll always make the right decision. Which she almost didn't. 

Mummy on the Orient Express

This one was good. Really good. One of my Series 8 favorites. As a last hurrah before Clara gives up traveling with the Doctor, he takes her on the Orient space. And bigger. But in all other respects, exactly like the original. It's supposed to be a vacation, or at least that's what Danny and Clara think. But traveling with the Doctor is never calm and relaxing. No, there's an invisible mummy killing people, exactly 66 seconds after the light flickers. Well, it is visible to its victim. A group of people has been handpicked to deal with this menace. The Doctor is the only one who could be able to figure it all out, and he's not a victim. He always has a plan, even if it's one he makes up as he goes along. But that plan, well, "sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose." And traveling with the Doctor is an it even possible for Clara to break it?


This was another good one. It felt more like New Who used to be, like "Fear Her" or something. People are disappearing. Graffiti no one painted is popping up all around. And you know the TARDIS is bigger on the inside? Well, that statement has never been more true. In fact, it's so true that the Doctor can't get out the door, causing Clara to carry the TARDIS around in her purse as she tries to do what the Doctor would do. Fighting the killer graffiti. Wait, I forgot, we are not calling them that. This one was fun and scary, and really kind of felt like we were going back to the David Tennant years, except with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman instead of David Tennant and Billie Piper. After all, the Doctor invents a machine that's just about as reliable as the timey-wimey detector. Well, maybe a little more reliable. It actually worked a couple of times.

In the Forest of the Night

London is covered in trees. Overnight. Actually, the whole world is covered in trees. And a little girl named Maebh thinks she's responsible. The thoughts just come to her, and sometimes they happen. There were some interesting themes about not medicating kids because they're different. And it's fun to see something that stumps the Doctor, though he did eventually figure it out, with Maebh's help. Wasn't my favorite, but certainly far better than "Kill the Moon."

Dark Water/Death in Heaven

All throughout Series 8, there are references to a woman named Missy and a strange place people say is Heaven. This is where it gets explained, in true Doctor Who fashion. Sort of in a "Silence in the Library" way, though with the appearance of some well known Doctor Who villains. I accidentally got a spoiler on Missy, so that wasn't a surprise, but the opening of the finale was. And it was heartbreaking. It was a really good finale, exciting, sad, suspenseful. I also loved the references to the Brigadier of Classic Who days. I wish he had been able to appear in the new series before his death, but the respectful nods they give towards his well beloved character preserve his memory. There are still unanswered questions, some big unanswered questions, at the end, but that's pretty typical for Steven Moffat. I wish he'd hurry up and answer them, but I'm not really expecting it to all be wrapped up until the end of Peter Capaldi's tenure as the Doctor, or at least Clara's time as companion. Just one more thing to say about the finale. Danny Pink.

Last Christmas

So this is the Christmas special. Really good, one of my favorite Twelfth Doctor episodes. He's over "am I a good man" having realized in the finale that he's just an idiot with a box and a screwdriver. Clara's still suffering the repercussions of the finale, but that doesn't stop her from having a Christmas adventure...with Santa Claus along. Dream crabs and a Doctor Who version of "real or not real?" and it's awesome. Showing that Series 9 has a very good chance of being amazing.

There you have it, Series 8. I thought it was a pretty good series, despite a few episodes I didn't really like, and was really the cleanest series since the show was revived in 2005. Peter Capaldi is a Doctor with potential, I'm one of the few who liked Clara before and still likes her now, and I'm ready for Series 9. Oh, wait, I already watched the amazing first episode, and am desperately hoping I'll have access to the rest. Because Series 9 promises to be fantastic, simply fantastic.

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