Doctor Who: Half-way Analysis

I understand that the previous Pick had some difficulties, and I am hoping to resolve them as quickly as possible. To express my apologies, I will have another Pick up tomorrow. Thank you all for your patience.

Spoilers ahead. Watch Season Eight, Episodes 1-7

And now for something completely different!

Again, I haven’t had much time to watch any films this week. While I did watch Tim Burton’s Big Fish, starring Ewan McGregor as a travelling salesman who allegedly experiences strange adventures during his life, I have been meaning to write this for a while, and now is the best time to publish it to the site.

I’m guessing quite a few people have heard about the new Doctor Who series, with Peter Capaldi playing the new Doctor, taking the gauntlet off Matt Smith. I decided that now we have reached (and succeded) the half-way point, it’s time to make a review to see how the series is shaping. Let’s go on an adventure!

Let’s take on the characters first before we delve into the episodes. In regards to Peter Capaldi playing ‘The Doctor’, I’d say he’s held his own so far. When he first appears on the premier episode, I was wary of his confused state as Doctor began to settle into his new body, but I find something particularly alluring and sinister about our new time-lord. After the generally cheery nature of Matt Smith and David Tennant, the change of persona is satisfying to see him becoming more of a ‘bad’ Doctor, yet holding on to that quirky streak.

Peter Capaldi is known for his villainous roles in other roles, including Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War, playing Mrs Caldicot’s son who sends her to a home, House of Nine, playing Max who turns psycho over some cold chicken and even Torchwood’s John Frobisher, who places a hit on Jack Harkness. Because of this, I wasn’t surprised he carried on his dark nature within the new series, putting Clara into some tight situations.

Speaking of Clara, I don’t think she gels well with Capaldi. I’m not sure if I can understand their relationship, as it goes from being loving, to tension and then hate. It seems forced to go into random directions, as if they’ve just thrown all the paint on the canvas into a mess. I can’t seem to relate to their friendship, but then again, I don’t fly around time and space in a blue box.

The introduction of Danny Pink, Clara Oswald’s love interest, proved interesting and works well with the series. It helped with Clara’s relationship with the Doctor a little more and adds an interesting dynamic to the series, especially with him being a soldier. He adds some comedy to the show, yet tends to lean towards being a plot device.

But enough of all that! Let’s hit the episodes! I’ll try and make each one brief so I can talk about some running motifs at the end.

1. Deep Breath

The pilot episode! A Tyrannosaurus Rex appears in the Thames in Victorian London, only to spontaneously burst into flames. Other murders have appeared like this around London, and it leads the Doctor and Clara to find an airship filled with androids.

The episode does well in shaping the Doctor before us. He is now worried of his self-worth, already contrasting to the previous Doctor nicely, appearing to leave Clara for dead. It’s good to see the recurring characters of married couple Vastra and Jenny and their butler, Strax. I do believe they went a little overboard on the comedy however. The final stand-off with The Doctor and the main-android is particularly interesting, coming to a conclusion that might suggest The Doctor has become a little more ruthless in his nature.

The episode bases the relationship between Clara and Doctor firmly, and I liked it. It starts to get messy in later episodes.

Result: 7/10

2. Into the Dalek

Pink is introduced to the series, asking Clara for a drink after-school where they work. Clara and the Doctor saves a lady named Blue from her shuttle, only to be forced to help with a dangerous mission, which involves going into a Dalek’s body.

I liked the introduction of Pink, a guy who seems tough, but is actually a little awkward when it comes to flirting with Clara. The episode itself was okay. It focussed more on the Doctor questioning himself: “Am I a bad man?” There is a space-battle at the beginning which the BBC probably spent all their budget on, but the rest of it takes place inside a Dalek. At this point in the series, I wanted to see something new. I want new aliens, a new time period and less on the over-arcing theme of the Doctor (but I have to say that the episode picks up on some interesting things about the Doctor.) Can I have one episode like that? Please?

I award points on the Doctor’s portrayal (top-marks), but take some off for predictability and originality.

Result: 5/10

3. Robot of Sherwood

Clara has always wanted to see Robin Hood. The Doctor says he is only a legend, but finds a real Robin with a band of merry men.

There was a lot to like about this episode. There were a lot of different scenes including an archery contest with explosions, a space-ship castle and a Sherwood Forest that seemed too sunny and too green…

You would think that the predictability would be fairly obvious, but it doesn’t go the way that you think it will go. Actually, it kind of just flops down in an open-ended ending. Ben Miller plays the Sheriff of Nottingham, and he is good in that role. I also liked seeing some people die in this episode with such lack of care. Normally it’s like the writers are treading on egg-shells when they kill people in Doctor Who, but people are being blown apart, stabbed and one person who falls in molten gold. A little less on the Doctor’s character, but I didn’t mind too much.

Result: 9.5/10

4. Listen

Is someone behind you right now? Is that thing you were looking for in a completely different place from where you left it? This episode tackles the things in the corner of our eye that feel are there. The rattle of a pipe that could be someone walking, or the creaking of a house that could be someone… knocking. The Doctor is obsessed with this question, and believes everyone has a dream where they wake up, get out their bed and have someone grab their ankle from under the bed. They try to go back to when Clara had the dream, but accidentally go to Pink’s past.

I see what the writers were trying to do here, but they don’t seem to pull it off quite right for me. The thing that they get wrong is that something is there the first time they investigate, and that ruins the whole episode. What they do after is clever, with Clara playing a bigger part than she realised, but you see something in Pink’s bedroom. The audience now know something is there, so the whole point that they so cleverly set up at the end, is ruined. An interesting, thought-provoking episode though.

Result: 7/10

5. Time Heist


The Doctor answers the TARDIS’ phone in Clara’s apartment. They suddenly cut to them holding onto memory-loss worms in a chamber with Psi, a professional augmented theif and Sabrina, a mutant who can shape-shift into anyone she touches. They have been selected by a man only known as The Architect to rob the most impregnable bank vault in the universe. They must break into the vaults which hold the things all of them desire, avoiding an alien called the Teller, who can sniff out guilt from other people and turn their brain to soup.

See how awesome this sounds already?! A new alien, a different story-line and a “Guess Who?” thrown in too. I loved this episode. The characters were interesting with detailed back-stories and a sense of danger is added with the well-designed Teller following them. Don’t worry! They can use an atomic disintegrater to kill themselves instantly if it gets too difficult!

The only thing that bugged me was the predictability to who the Architect was. It wasn’t so much that I knew, more that it was how much the writers milked it. The punchline was as dry as a dusty shortbread.

Result: 9/10

6. The Caretaker

This episode focussed on Pink and Clara’s relationship. Clara is exhausted of leading two lives: one with the Doctor and one with Pink. As she just seems to get some time for Pink, the Doctor becomes the new caretaker of the school they are in.

This focussed on the relationships of all the characters together. Firstly, Clara and Pink were okay. They acted like a couple, but I was surprised by Pink’s reaction to Clara’s admittance to be travelling around with the Doctor. He asks why she would do such a thing to him… Hello? The opportunity to travel all through space and time in a blue police box? Who wouldn’t? And I’m not really sure how that would come up in conversation for Clara to tell him. Plus, Clara takes Pink for a complete fool. I mean, he hasn’t got the IQ of a chimp so don’t treat him like he’s a child with the most ridiculous two minutes of excuses I have ever seen.

Pink and the Doctor was good. They are both wary of each other, and they both hold a hatred, that I find could get interesting later on in the series. This episode is where I got confused by Clara and the Doctor’s relationship. Obviously it’s strained by the inclusion of Pink, but it’s just what they say that confuses me. Their dialogue together just doesn’t seem natural. It feels scripted, and they don’t seem to be saying the right thing for the situation.

The alien was alright, and kind of reminded me of Robot Wars, which I give brownie points for. It was a little unrealistic, but its movement was well-designed and scary.

Result: 5/10 (Ruined by Clara and the Doctor).

7. Kill the Moon

The latest episode. The Doctor, Clara and school-kid Courtney travel to the moon in 2049 to find that they are in a shuttle loaded with one-hundred nuclear warheads, which will wipe out the moon due to its gravitational force increasing. In the end, Clara, Courtney and woman-astronaut Lundvik have to choose between killing an innocent life, or possibly jeopardizing the entire human race.

This is a fairly interesting episode. The Doctor makes a surprising stand on his view of this dire situation. You really do see a bad streak in him, which totally knocks you backwards. What would you do? Kill or save your skin? This really does ask us what is humanity and are we ourselves good people. This spin on the series has really made us see the darkness in everyone.

Again, there is an awkward exchange between the Doctor and Clara. I get Clara’s feelings of betrayal, but she puts it in a way that really didn’t set with me right. I could see what they both needed to say to each other, but it really didn’t come out clear enough. It needs more clarity.

Result: 8/10

I am really pushing the word-count here, so lets go quickly though the motifs.

Firstly, “The Promised Land”. In episodes 1, 2 and 6, we see a place where people go when they die apparently run by Missy, who calls herself the Doctor’s “boyfriend”. I’ve been reading into the theories on who this mysterious woman is, and I thought I had her down as the Rani, an old villain of the franchise who was a female time-lord. However, the sixth episode threw me off-guard, as I saw that these people really aren’t surviving these situations. Who is Missy? Where is The Promised Land? It seems to be leading up to the last two episodes, so we will find out then…

The Doctor mentions that his new face is familiar. Even thought it is only mentioned in the first episode, it shouldn’t be forgotten. It would be interesting to see if his persona was of someone that he has met before. While Peter Capaldi has played people inside the Doctor Who universe, I doubt that it will be the case of that. At least I hope so…

I have to stop here, otherwise I’m going to be paralysed in the morning in my bed, hissing at the sunlight from the window. Please do put some thoughts and comments below, as I would love to respond to some of you. I will hopefully work on getting some more publicity to the site this week, but until then…