Sunday, August 2, 2015

10 Years of Doctor Who Reborn: Series Eight (Revisited)

Hi there and welcome to another installment of 10 Years of Doctor Who Reborn, a look back at Doctor Who from its return in 2005 to the present day.  

For Series 1 through 7, I had to go back and reflect on which episodes were great and why as well as which ones did not measure up and examine that as well. In the case of Series 8, this is a lot less tricky because I had already done this work already. So after after 9 posts over 9 weeks on this subject, I hope you will understand if I take the easy road and just point to the links for the following: 

  • Summary of episodes 1 - 6 of Series 8: click here 
  • Summary of episodes 7 - 12 of Series 8: click here 
  • An overall review of Series 8: click here.

Still, just so I don't get out of any work for this post whatsoever, here's a convenient listing of episodes for Series 8 from worst to first with a brief summary of each followed by a link to last year's more detailed reviews.    

#12 - Kill the Moon **

Let's deal with the elephant in the room, the moon-sized elephant: yes, there is some seriously dodgy science going on here. The moon abruptly gains weight? Because there's a gestating baby dragon in the center about to be born? Yet the moon is actually an egg that's been there for millions of years. Because of the extra weight, the moon has normal Earth-like gravity. Yet gravity is lost in one room when the weight shifts. The weight is still there. Why would shifting it turn off the gravity? And why is that effect localized to one room?

And to go along with the dodgy science is some rather shaky morality. Clara Oswald overrides the decision of the entire planet to save whatever is living in the egg. 

Click here for the full review.  

#11 - The Caretaker **

I really don't think this was a particularly strong episode owing mostly to the menace of the week being a bit meh (despite having a name like "Skovox Blitzer" which is what I would name my son if I had one.)  Of course, it wasn't about the menace but the people. Now I like a good "let's focus on people" episode of an action adventure series. But the problem here is that for all the social upheaval, the end sees the status quo re-set. Clara still has a double life; the only difference is Danny knows about it.  

Click here for the full review.  

#10 - In the Forest of the Night **

When science fiction sits side by side with fantasy, it can be a bit disconcerting how the Doctor can save the Earth by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow in one episode but saves the Earth in another episode by telling everyone to think happy thoughts.  

Or in the case of In the Forest of the Night, don't do bad things and let the trees do their thing and everything will be cool. The message that Maebh sends out from the TARDIS to every communications device on Earth is exactly that message. While the Doctor does work out some things that are important to understanding what's going on, ultimately the Doctor is reduced to a bystander in his own story. Mostly its a lot of running around in some admittedly lovely looking forests and some awkward yet cute interactions between the Doctor and the kids. 

Click here for the full review.  

#9  -  Into the Dalek ***

But no matter the face, the Doctor is a being of hope which drives him in this mission to find the secret of a good Dalek, even as he knows there can be no such thing. That hope gets dashed when the Dalek reverts to form and begins killing everything. The Doctor does find another way but its costs another life and in the end, the Doctor doesn't make the Dalek good. He can only give the Dalek a different target for its hatred.  

Click here for the full review.  

#8  - Time Heist ***

So let's call this "Doctor Who Meets Ocean's Eleven". Time Heist plays with the conventions of a classic heist caper movie. A mysterious mastermind, a complex plot that requires perfect timing, players in the heist with special skills and damaged psyches, unexpected obstacles and plot twists within plot twists. But of course with a Doctor Who spin involving future science and time travel. 

Click here for the full review.  

#7  - Flatline ***

I suppose the complainers out there who continue to think Doctor Who is becoming too much Clara Who aren't going to be happy with this episode. But I liked this episode a lot because it does put the spotlight on Clara but in a very unique way with Clara forced to channel how the Doctor would do things. Jenna Coleman once again is simply wonderful as Clara finds herself on less than sure footing while trying to think, always thinking, what would the Doctor do. Then Clara saves the day when completely cut off from the Doctor, she thinks, "What would I do?" 

Click here for the full review.  

#6  - Robot of Sherwood ***

By embracing him as an historical figure and then hanging on for dear life as Robin Hood actually does all that derring do that we've seen in the movies, we upend our expectations. We keep waiting for the big reveal, that Robin Hood is indeed not who he says he is. The Doctor is sure of it and so are the viewers. So when Robin Hood starts doing Robin Hood stuff, we find ourselves actually enamored with the tropes of the Robin Hood of movies and the Doctor finds himself is in an unusual state: surprised. 

Click here for the full review.  

#5  - Dark Water ****

The Doctor's pulls a Batman gambit on Clara at the beginning and it's really cool to see the Doctor in control like that. But the really enlightening thing about that sequence was how much of that was motivated by the Doctor's concern and affection for Clara Oswald. He sees how far she was prepared to go to save Danny Pink, even to the point of betraying the Doctor. But the Doctor stands by Clara and we see why only the Doctor can truly be the Doctor. The normal, perhaps even rational response to such a betrayal is to tell the offender to go to hell. But the Doctor is about the hard choices but in this case, it's only a hard choice for humans. For the Doctor, the choice is easy: Clara is his friend and she needs his help. 

Click here for the full review.  

#4  - Mummy on the Orient Express ****

Peter Capaldi is really in a groove now as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman is wonderful as Clara and the two of them together have a rather odd but in a good way chemistry. After Clara's big blow out last week, one wondered about the fractures in her relationship with the Doctor. Those fractures were present this week but Clara works through them in a unique and rather adult fashion, even as the Doctor infuriatingly remains the Doctor. But as Clara seeks to heal the cracks between her the Doctor, the Doctor actually reveals some cracks in his facade. He wants to help people, save people but sometimes the only choices are bad choices and the Doctor has to make them. 

Click here for the full review.  

#3  - Deep Breath ****

We see Peter Capaldi perfectly capable of channeling a mad, weird Doctor but as the episode progresses and the Doctor's marbles are more or less properly aligned, we also get to see more of that darker, edgier Doctor we were promised. Capaldi still brings forth the Doctor's curiosity and compassion we would come to expect from any version of the Doctor but there's a wild card element to this persona that leads us to think that very little else about this Doctor can be anticipated. 

Click here for the full review.  

#2  - Listen *****

To say Clara is becoming a stronger character doesn't mean she's a perfect person; what it means is Clara is a more nuanced person. Clara seems to be a bit rubbish at an adult relationship with Danny but is perfect in her empathy and sweetness when Danny is a young boy named Rupert. Clara relates to children, first as a nanny then as a teacher. Her one consistent relationship with an adult is with the man-child known as the Doctor. Even in this current darker, edgier persona, the Doctor is childlike in his relentless curiosity and impatience. Clara can deal with the Doctor but with adults like Danny Pink, poor Clara has a lot to learn. 

Click here for the full review.  

#1  - Death In Heaven ****

The concept of Clara becoming more like the Doctor gets revisited here. She declares to the Cybermen that she is the Doctor then the cheekily revised credits go and back her up. As we saw in Flatline, Clara makes a very good Doctor. But as we saw last week in Dark Water, she can't out Doctor the actual Doctor. But here we see her make a very Doctor-like hard choice, to activate Danny's Cyber inhibitor herslef. But then she takes a very Clara like action in hugging Cyber-Danny, trusting the man she loves to overcome the machine he has been transformed into. 

Click here for the full review.  

Next week: 10 Years of Doctor Who Reborn concludes with a look back over the whole decade of awesome Doctor Who adventures since 2005 as I give my account of the best of the best including... the best year ever. 

In two weeks: A new fan fiction begins---

Prisoners of the Daleks

Until then, be good to one another. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

We went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom  and let me settle something up front: Bryce Dallas Howard does wear high heels.  For a coup...