Usually when a show changes its main characters frequently everyone calls it out for being a sell out and ruining the franchise, Doctor Who seems to be totally void of these criticisms. We are in the eighth series of the reboot and we are already on our fourth Doctor (fifth companion) normally this would be a disaster for a series but [Doctor Who](series:200668) is a pretty unique show (and seeing as Matt Smith was the last Doctor and was a pretty hopeless David Tennant wannabe clone) seemingly avoiding standard TV idioms.
There will be some spoilers in this write up so if you don’t want to know what happens then I probably would either stop reading or go watch the show and come back at a later date, I’m sure it will still be here...probably…
Anyway after the mess that was the Matt Smith reign we got something totally different in Peter Capaldi. Instead of a goofy, doughy faced, bow tie wearing posh boy we got a wrinkled old grumpy Scot with eyes which screamed ‘mess with me and I’ll chib ya!’ Yes it was quite a change, and it was the kind of shake up the show required. Doctor Who had become to samey over the last few years and it needed something and someone different and it just happened that Capaldi was that change which was required. If you can think back to the one and only Christopher Eccleston series, it was a much darker version of the show than we seen throughout the Matt Smith era which put the Doctor in genuine moral dilemmas, the move to Capaldi was a move back to this. Capaldi brought back some much needed edge to the show and a lead with genuine moral greyness (or morally grey for the Doctor). Capaldi is a top notch actor (just check out the Thick of It to see what I mean) and he delivers with his performance in all his glorious Scottishyness. The Doctor has always been a bit unusual and on the edge, and Capaldi’s face alone can sell that better than any of his predecessors, it is made better by the Scottish accent which is monotone and generally makes people sound pissed off, and on top of all of that we lost all that awkward sexual tension which has plagued the show for a number of years.
Speaking of good additions to the show with Scottish accents; the Master made his long awaited return…as a woman… Does it make sense? Not really. Did it work? Yes. I could sit here typing away about the questions this raises about Timelord’s reproductive ability and what would happen if the male Timelord’s vastly outnumbered the female ones and if this would see the Timelord’s become extinct, it certainly is a dilemma. Anyway Michelle Gomez’s incarnation of the Master (Missy) was pretty damn good, which is saying something when it could have easily fallen flat on its face. Traditionally the Master has some emotional issues and regularly these are directed towards the Doctor and Missy was no different. Gomez played the part perfectly and her back and forths with Capaldi were easily the highlight of this series. Is Missy dead? It’s highly unlikely because this is Doctor Who after all, plus Gomez is signed up for the next series which is generally a good sign. I’m almost certain that Moffat (head honcho) used the female Master as a tester for how people would potentially react to a female Doctor, which we will almost certainly see in the future due to the high demand from the media.
The problem is that beyond Capaldi and Gomez the show struggled again this series. What can you say about Clara? She receives too much focus, she gets uppity over nothing but at least she received some character development this season, you know, just before it seems like she’s leaving the show… For me Danny Pink was an atrocious addition to the show, a character generally lacking in personality who also tended to be an absolute prick to the Doctor for absolutely no reason. I understand why he had to be added and I can understand the hostility towards the Doctor (I too would be pissed if my girlfriend kept going on adventures with an elderly gentleman) but the way in which he showed those emotions made me resent him more than want to see him more.
The episodes were generally hit and miss, with miss showing up more than the hit which is never a good thing. I know that Doctor Who is essentially a kid’s show so we aren’t going to see any graphic scenes or language anytime soon, but too many of the episodes are too corny. Even the better episodes had horrible moments of corniness which have you groaning and questioning why the BBC has done this to us. The other major problem I have with the show is that it doesn’t matter what happens, who he is up against or the danger of the situation by the end of the episode the Doctor has won and all is back to normal again. The thing is that everyone wants to see their team win, but if they always win then you start taking it for granted and in the end it no longer becomes fun because everything is too predictable, Doctor Who generally is way too predictable and really needs to mix it up with the Doctor losing now and again. I don’t really know what the budget is for the show but I can only imagine it isn’t very high because many of the Doctor’s enemies look awful, something which would look crappy fifteen years ago. Things like the Daleks and Cybermen get away with looking poor for modern day standards because they have been about since the 60’s but there isn’t really any excuse for newly created bad guys looking so tacky.
Anyone who watches Doctor Who on the BBC, like myself, will be aware of the general tendency of the BBC to ruin next week’s episode. A great example of this is the penultimate episode which had the Cybermen twist at the end, which may have been a shock if it weren’t for the fact that the ‘next time on Doctor Who’ and adverts prior to the episode showed a gaggle (pretty sure that’s what it’s called) of Cybermen all over London.
I could sit and nitpick at pretty much all the episodes with things like how Danny thinks sending an Afghani kid back to life instead of himself is a good idea despite the fact that Clara is now dumped with some kid she doesn’t know who almost certainly can’t speak English, how it seems like only the characters who are connected to the show are able to resist the Cyberman transformation or anything to do with that really annoying Courtney girl who couldn’t act for shit but managed to appear in her very own episode. The point is I could nitpick but I could be here all day and sadly I don’t have all day, so will have to make do with a few which came to my head.
All in all it sounds that this season was pretty poor and in reflection it was really. Yes Peter Capaldi is a vast improvement on his predecessor and Missy has huge potential as an advisory but the writing is too childish at times and most of the other sub characters struggle mightily to be anything but annoying. Not being ten years old I think the show would benefit greatly from being more edgy, ok the Doctor doesn’t need to morph into Malcolm Tucker (although naturally that would be great) but the stories need to be edgier and have a greater chance of failure. Another area which would improve the show is narratives which occasionally last longer than one episode. It allows for greater storytelling and would also allow for a better build up to the eventual climax, which would allow the writers to truly stretch their muscles and give us a mini movie format.
Not what I’d call a classic series of Doctor Who but with Capaldi now firmly at the helm you can’t help but have hope that the show will head in the right direction. So what did you think? Are you on my side that the show needs a kick up the arse or is it that I’m just not getting the show? Leave a comment and let everyone know! Plus if you’ve got some free time (a rare thing when on the internet) and you’ve managed to read the article in its entirety you may as well join the bm23reviews Facebook and Twitter pages or check out bm23tvreviews.com! Thanks for reading.