Doctor Who: Finished Analysis

REMINDER: Episodes 8-12 are on this Pick. Episodes 1-7 are here.

Spoilers for Series 8, Episodes 8-12 of Doctor Who appear. You have been warned.

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So yet again I was stuck this Sunday with no idea what to review. I had watched Penguins of Madagascar this week, the slick design still not shaking off the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch cannot say ‘penguins’, but hey! It’s Benedict Cumberbatch! You have him, you have a film. But I thought it wasn’t really what I wanted to review this week.

So as I scurried around a few hours ago, frantically looking through movies of days past, a thought popped into my mind of my Doctor Who review. I hadn’t been able to finish it, due to me going on holiday during the finale, and I had been able to fend off spoilers until today.

I called the family and we started out Doctor Who binge, falling short of one more episode. I’m hoping by the time you read this I’ve put the review of the last episode in. But anyway, I want to get quickly into the review.

Quick point on characters, everything seemed to improve in my eye. I finally got my head around the Doctor’s and Clara’s zany conversations together, and started to understand the characters more. Doctor is still going through his 900-year-old-life-crisis, and Clara’s relationship balance between Pink and the Doctor is straining to a point of bursting.

Also, I finally saw Samuel Anderson, playing Pink, in a different show! Playing deputy manager of supermarket Valco in British shopping comedy Trollied showed me his comedic side, as well as showing me how he can be so emotional in Doctor Who episodes. Anyway, let’s go!

8. Mummy on the Orient Express

Oh how I loved this episode. Doctor and Clara board a train to discover a mysterious mummy is killing unhealthy victims on a futuristic remake of the famous train. What made this episode so cool was the rule that once someone saw the mummy, that no one else could see, they had sixty-six seconds to live before they die, helpfully shown by a stopwatch in the corner of the screen. it adds to the tension greatly.

This had some really great characters too. Gus, the computing program that forces the train-goers to solve the case of the mummy or die resembles that of GLaDOS from the Portal franchise. A trusting voice that holds malicious intent in the form of a robot. Engineer Perkins has wit that made me wish that he had accepted the offer of being the TARDIS’ safeguard. The mystery murder element is made by the doomed having to describe the invincible mummy’s appearance so that they can figure out what is causing it to attack.

New monster, interesting concepts and camera tricks, good characters… All I want to know now is who the hell is Gus? I want to shake his hand.

10/10 (Even though I thought it would be ruined by Doctor’s and Clara’s talk at the end).

9. Flatline

I was told by one friend that they hated this episode and one that loved it. I was in a bit of turmoil watching. 2-D monsters are (possibly unintentionally) killing people by sucking them into a two-dimensional world. The Doctor is trapped in a shrunk TARDIS. People’s nervous system and skin are being left as paintings on walls, as they are dissected. All in all, it was a quirky episode.

There were some interesting cinematography used in this episode. The Doctor having to pass things out of a hand-sized TARDIS played with my mind somewhat. Crazy monsters that shifted and morphed with people’s skins was like watching a Silent Hill walk-through. If I had to say something bad, I was disappointed that they never found out what the monsters wanted, dismissing them as “monsters”.

Cool visuals, yet I’m not a fan on vaguity. Still, a very enjoyable episodes with Clara being thrown into the Doctor’s shoes.

8/10 (Matt Bardock, I’m so sorry this is the second TV show you’ve been killed off these last few months).

10. In the Forest of the Night

Probably the least-threatening episode ever if you think about it. Sure, wolves and tigers are pretty scary, but seriously, a flash-light fended a tiger off? I don’t think that’s how it works. The set was pretty cool. Seeing urban bits of London within a forest was good, and I understand it would have been harder to pull it off so it literally looked like London. Tops of Trafalgar Square though.

Now to the bad parts. A solar flare is going to hit earth and wipe everyone out, or so we are told by the trees. The trees who are in fact saving the human race from it by filling the air with oxygen. Why didn’t they just say that?! Nope. Let’s just keep cryptic to add to the atmosphere (no pun intended). Also, the school kids are the most idiotic bunch of kids I’ve ever known. My generation is now associated with selfies and problem-children and sophists. No bunch of kids are like this. They are not idiots.

In the end, it seemed like the whole episode pivoted on the humans saving the Doctor, only for the Doctor to find the solution moments after the whole mushy-mushy touchy-feely bit.

4/10 (I guess it was watchable at least)

11. Dark Water

OHHHHHH MY GOOOSHH!!!!! What a cliffhanger! And then when you think about it, you kind of see the obviousness of the choice of the Master as Missy. But who, what, why? I am left to fathom in my mind just what happened.

After Pink dies in a car-crash, something that Clara rightly states as “so ordinary”, she almost ruins the Doctor with the news, threatening to lock him out the TARDIS forever. The whole confrontation is very intense, and the emotions are played right. I feel that the Doctor’s quick forgiveness was a bit off, but he is slightly wiser in years than me.

“The Promised Land” was very cool, with Pink having to face the problems of his past, something fairly gritty for Doctor Who, intertwining life on Earth with the Doctor’s hidden world. Missy’s actress, Michelle Gomez, was a very calm and calculating Master, and adds a very different twist to the show as a whole.

There were a couple of plot holes I spotted, one being Missy assuming the Doctor would turn his navigation system off, and I was a little disappointed with the lack of Cybermen. There were about fifty? So? We’e had an unlimited amount of Daleks battle it out with waves of Cybermen, so I don’t see the massive deal of threat at the moment. However, it kept me entertained and I was interested throughout.


12. Death In Heaven

I kind of scratch my head at this episode a little. I want to like it, really I do, but there’s too much that I dislike (mainly one of those being Osgood was killed, but that’s personal). It was this episode where I realised that this time-travelling TV show was slowing down. Everything is slowed down to such a pain-staking extent. Why has the Doctor been on the plane for a few hours, and has no new ideas? Why does it take so long for Clara to find Danny and confront him and switch off his emotion charge thingy.

There were things I liked. Missy’s character was the psycho I wanted for the portrayal of the Master. I mean, she killed Osgood for goodness sake! I blame the writers for giving her the stupid plan of giving the Cybermen to the Doctor. How do you know he might take the power? He’s never shown any signs of it before. The Doctor’s performance was very good as well, as was Clara’s being emotionally attached to Danny.

A performance heavy episode, hard-hitting in some places, but the writing fell flat for me.


A couple of other pointers:

I think that the Doctor has been set up pretty well for Series Nine. He has finally shown his true colours as the Doctor we know and love. A swashbuckling traveller who ventures the Seven Galaxies, helping the innocent when he find them. I think Series Nine will be a killer.

All in all, an interesting Series Eight. I think that it grounds Peter Capaldi’s character quite well. There were episodes that I wasn’t too pleased about, and plot holes that made me scratch my head, but I believe that with a few killer story-arcs for the next series, subtly calculating and hinting at a grand finale could place Capaldi in the Doctor Who Hall of Fame.