Wednesday, December 9, 2015

TV Show Review: Doctor Who Series 9

Doctor Who Series 9

Rating: PG

Recommended for: 10 to Adult

Peter Capaldi returns as the Doctor alongside Jenna Coleman and guests including Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams. Now that the Doctor and Clara have established a dynamic as a partnership of equals, they’re relishing the fun and thrills that all of space and time has to offer. Tangling with ghosts, Vikings and the ultimate evil of the Daleks, they embark on their biggest adventures yet. 

Doctor Who Series 9 was great. At least, in my opinion. Peter Capaldi has settled into his role as the Doctor, he and Clara Oswald are getting along just fine now, they're traveling the universe together with no fear of danger, and they go on quite the journey together. There was very little I didn't like about this series. I don't know if I'm in the minority on this, I know my dad doesn't really like the Twelfth Doctor and didn't like Clara as much once the Impossible Girl mystery was solved, but I thought series 9 was really good.

The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar

This was a truly interesting story. I'm not sure how much I can say without spoilers, but it revolves around the daleks and Davros. The end of the pre-titles scene had me loudly exclaiming. It involves Missy and Skaro, and wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey. Aaaand we get to see the Doctor come in on a tank playing an electric guitar getting medieval people to yell "Dude!" We see the first of the Doctor's confession dial, basically a Time Lord's last will and testament, or so Missy says. This little object is actually quite important later on. Missy is a quite entertaining incarnation of the Master, and this really shows in this story, the only one of the series with her character. She does do some infuriating things (like trapping Clara inside a dalek), but things do work out in the end. An interesting theme is that of mercy. Because when [a certain character] asks the Doctor what side he's on, he replies that it doesn't matter, "as long as there's mercy." And yes, the sonic screwdriver is gone from this series (replaced by sonic sunglasses), but it didn't bother me since they've gotten rid of it before, in the Fifth Doctor episode "The Visitation."

Under the Lake/Before the Flood

This was kind of creepy, but I still loved it. There are ghosts. The Doctor originally insists that they're not really ghosts, but later...."They're ghosts!" And, yes, he's excited about it. The Doctor and Clara end up on an underwater base haunted by ghosts that only come out when it's in night mode, and can't get into the Faraday cage. A scientific team investigating an unearthed alien ship is aboard. They have to figure out what the ghosts are trying to do, without getting turned into ghosts themselves. The Doctor decides to go back in time to before the area flooded to find out the reason for it all. And Clara sees his ghost. There's a lot about paradoxes in this story. It's really very interesting. Things happen in the past, but they are based on things you know from the future, so where did it really originate? Who really wrote Beethoven's Fifth? One of my favorite things from the episode, though, is the cue cards. Clara is trying to help the Doctor with his people skills, so she gives him cue cards...which he's not great at using. But I really love the one that references Sarah Jane Smith: "It was my fault, I should have known you didn't live in Aberdeen." Very interesting story with great references.

The Girl Who Died

(Technically considered part one of a two parter, but while both stories center around Ashildr, the stories are distinct from each other, IMO.) The only episode in which I like Ashildr. This sets off an important part of the series 9 story arc. The Doctor and Clara end up in a Viking village terrorized by aliens claiming to be Odin. A girl named Ashildr is different from the other Vikings, and she's a skilled storyteller. After their soldiers are killed, Ashildr declares war, causing the villagers to have to fight against a merciless alien race. The Doctor is clever. And he can't leave people to die. But his plan has unforeseen consequences...and causes a very big change to happen to Ashildr. It was a good episode, going into the historical side of Doctor Who, a thing which doesn't seem to happen much anymore. It's sort of a set up for things to come later with Ashildr. And she's a character well played. By the way, the Doctor's face is explained in this episode. No, he's not actually Caecilius, but at least they give it an explanation.

The Woman Who Lived

Ashildr is back, in 1651 England, and she's not so happy about it. She's immortal now, due to events of "The Girl Who Died," calling herself Me, living with only a servant as a wealthy lady by day and acting as a masked highwayman by night. She's been alive for 800 years at this point, and is lonely. She's seen some very hard times, but it's only made her harsh. Maybe it's because with a finite mind she can't remember it all. Maybe it's being alone. She begs the Doctor to take her with him, but he refuses. I kind of felt like the story itself in this episode was a bit flat, but they more than made up for it with character and theme. It might just be because I've explored the idea in my own writing, but I find the subject of immortality/abnormally long life in this world to be a fascinating concept. It takes much the same stance on it that Natalie Babbitt did in Tuck Everlasting and that I did in Time Captives. You don't want to live forever in this world. It's not a good thing. Clara's absent for most of this episode, which I didn't like, but oh well.

The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion

Osgood is back! No, her death in the series 8 finale wasn't fake. But if you remember in "Day of the Doctor," human Osgood and Zygon Osgood became friends. One of them died. Which one? It doesn't really matter. The Zygons were assimilated into Earth's culture after those events, living as humans, which most of them were content to do. However, there are a few who want to take over Earth instead. The Zygons want the "Osgood Box" to destroy the humans, but the Osgood Box is not quite what it seems...and there's a very good reason it's called the Osgood Box. I tend to love it when they bring UNIT in, because it necessarily makes references abound. After all, Kate Stewart is the Brigadier's daughter. There are many throwbacks to "Day of the Doctor" and even "Terror of the Zygons" in this story. And then towards the end, the Doctor gives a great speech on the consequences of war and the necessity of forgiveness. He's fought in a very terrible war. He has done worse things than you can imagine. And he doesn't want anyone else to have to live with that.

Sleep No More

I...didn't really understand this episode. There's a machine called the Morpheus that concentrates a month of sleep into five minutes, but it somehow creates sand monsters from the dust that collects in your eyes while you sleep. It's supposed to be assembled from security footage from where it takes place, so the format is a bit different. It's kind of inconclusive too. I really just need to watch it again, because it's one of those episodes that doesn't make a lot of sense. It's supposed to be a scary episode, but I didn't understand it enough to be scared. Maybe next time...

Face the Raven

Get the tissues ready. Rigsy from "Flatline" calls Clara to ask for her help. A tattoo appeared on the back of his neck, a number...and it's counting down. And when it gets to zero, he will die. They learn that Ashildr put it there, and that death can only be avoided if she takes it off or if it's transferred to someone else. I'm not sure what to say about the rest of this episode or the remaining parts of the finale, because it's spoiler territory, but extremely important to the storyline. I really liked this episode, but I finished it in shock. I wasn't expecting that ending. And I really don't like Ashildr now.

Heaven Sent

The Doctor goes solo in this lead up to the ultimate finale of the season. Trapped in a castle in the middle of an infinite ocean, the Doctor is pursued by a mysterious shrouded figure called the Veil. He falls out a window, finds a drying set of his own clothes by a fire, digs up a grave, sees stars that indicate he's in the future even though he didn't time travel, punches a wall made of diamond but 400 times stronger, realizes that the rooms in the castle reset themselves and then...spoilers. This episode was very different. It's not usual for the Doctor to be without a companion. He's not Time Lord Victorious yet, that's more of the next episode, but the circumstances surrounding his companionlessness makes him very determined. And that ending! Great episode. My sister didn't love it because she doesn't like him without a companion, but it was still a really good episode.

Hell Bent

And then the very last episode of the series. I can't tell you the premise of the episode without spoiling the ending of "Face the Raven," was a good episode. Hard. And the Doctor is really not doing well. It's like Time Lord Victorious all over again. There are Time Lords in funny hats, vague hints at the Doctor's past, Ashildr alone at the end of the world, the "hybrid" hinted at throughout the series becomes important, a scene with the Doctor and Clara in a diner that doesn't make sense until the very end, TARDIS stealing, "Journey's End" references. It's sad. It's epic. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey. At the end, the Doctor is off alone, ready for a brand new companion to come in the next series. 

Doctor Who series 9 was far better than series 8, though I liked that series too. There are still unanswered questions, like where Orson Pink comes from, but I have confidence that it'll eventually be explained. Clara was great in her last series as companion. Peter Capaldi makes a great Doctor. Some interesting developments have come to the story in this series, and I'm looking forward to what comes next, seeing a new companion and new story in the next series. And seeing the sonic screwdriver back in action.

But before that comes "The Husbands of River Song." Because River is coming back for the Christmas special!


  1. I SO want to watch this season!! I love Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, so I really can't wait!

    Thanks for the review! Though I didn't read it in case of SPOILERS...

    1. I loved this season. They were great in this one.

      I tried to avoid spoilers as much as I could, so it should be fairly safe. :)


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