Thursday, November 13, 2014

Doctor Who; Series (Season) 8

(Note; UK television does "shows" that come in "series"; US does "shows" or "series" that come in "seasons")

I've debated writing a post about this, simply because I'm lazy and I believe my wordcount could be better spent.  But as a long-time Whovian, I just wanted to sum up my thoughts on the latest Doctor Who season.

In my humble opinion, it was not a good season.

There were some good moments, and even some good episodes. I can name my top three or even top five of the season. The problem is that it would not be a list of gradual decline. There is a huge gulf between the ones I liked and the rest of the list.

My top episodes of the season were the ones where we got to see Peter Capaldi playing his Doctor to the fullest - not retreading past Doctor traits or playing second fiddle to other characters. Capaldi is an excellent Doctor. He did not fail - the writing did.

Not surprisingly, the ones I favor also had minimal moments of rule breaking or world breaking. Often, the rule breaking was done just to sell a crazy idea.

Other people have noted this tendency of showrunner and head-writer, Steven Moffat. Some fans noted it early on as being problematic.  Personally I thought Moffat generally got away with it. But this time around, the plotting seemed either repetitive or muddled or inexplicable - sometimes all three. It seemed that not only was Moffat going for the "crazy splash page," he was also going for big visuals (e.g.; Cybermen coming out of graves) and "moments." But to arrive at those visuals, concepts and moments, the plotting often contradicted character and established "rules" of Doctor Who. Characters (companions and the Doctor) were grossly inconsistent from episode to episode.

Moffat has also mentioned the (not unusual) idea that the companions are our window to the Doctor. Because he is alien, we need their viewpoint. That is a fair analysis. What I don't buy is when Moffat goes to the next level and states that the show is really about the companions. No, no it isn't. The Sarah Jane Adventures are about companions. Doctor Who is about, well, the Doctor.  To me, Moffat really pushed that concept too far this season. I am not the only one who felt like we were watching The Clara Oswald Show, guest starring the Doctor.

By the time I watched the season finale, I didn't even feel like I had watched an episode of Doctor Who. All the elements were there - UNIT, the TARDIS, the Doctor, Cybermen. But the parts did not add up to the sum.

Too much style over substance. Too many gimmicks. (Nicholas Kaufmann sums up my own feelings about the 2-part finale quite well, btw.)

Some people seem to have enjoyed the season. Power to them, but I just don't see it.

My favorite of moment of the season - and even with all this season's faults, perhaps one of my top ten Doctor Who moments  - occurred during the episode, "Into the Dalek." The Doctor speaks to a Dalek;

"You see all those years ago, when I began, I was just running. I called myself the Doctor, but it was just a name. Then I went to Skaro. And then I met you lot. And I understood who I was. The Doctor was not the Daleks!"

It was an insightful character moment that harkened back the very first encounter between the Daleks and the original Doctor.

I wish Series 8 had more of that.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard a fair amount of disappointment from other sources on this season.