Sunday, December 20, 2015

Doctor Who: A Look Back at Series 9

Hi there! Dave-El here and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, Chewbacca's favorite blog. 

Seriously! Don't believe me? Go ask him!

"Chewbacca, what's your favorite blog?"

"YYYAURGGGG!!"

See? Told ya.  

Yeah, it does seem like right now everything's Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars and yes, this humble blogger and family are caught up in the hysteria excitement. The El family will be venturing forth from our Fortress of Ineptitude to see what the fuss is all about. I also want to navigate the internet freely once more, no longer afraid of spoilers.

But while this weekend seems to be all about the Star Wars, this blog will not let this Sunday go past without a Doctor Who post.  

On October 31st, I posted a review of Series 9 to that point. Then last weekend, I posted a review of the remainder of Series 9

Today's post smooshes those two posts up into one to create this run down of Doctor Who Series 9. If you want to read more details, clock on the links in the paragraph above as well the links up each picture.

Let's jump into the list, why don't we? For write ups on each episode, click the link through the episode title. 


#12 The Girl Who Died


#11 The Zygon Invasion


#10 Sleep No More


#9 The Zygon Inversion


#8 The Magician's Apprentice


#7 Under the Lake


#6 Before the Flood


#4 The Woman Who Lived 



#3 The Witch's Familiar  


#2 Face the Raven


#1 Heaven Sent


The only episodes I was sure of going into this was what would be at #12 and what would be #1.  Everything else in the middle was a muddle in terms of exact placement. I must've switched #2 and #3 a dozen times or more. 

Heaven Sent is a very unique episode for Doctor Who, by far not a typical entry in the series. But it works! And it works very well! A clever and powerful story, superb directing and a haunting soundtrack (Murray Gold is still rocking it after 10+ years on the job.) Of course this would all be for naught without a strong actor in the central and virtually solitary role. Thank goodness Peter Capaldi is a very strong actor and turns in an amazing performance that deserves recognition.

There were certain themes that recurred throughout the series, all coming together in the last three episodes. 

The foreshadowing of Clara Oswald's death: Clara being "killed" by the Daleks, her name on the list of the dead in Before the Flood, the immortal Me making her case to travel with the Doctor as opposed to the not immortal Clara, believing the real Clara has been killed by her Zygon replacement.Threats and insinuations of the Doctor's loss of Clara through her death are a constant throughout the series.

Clara becoming more like the Doctor. She takes to heart the lesson she learns from Missy that the Doctor "always knows he's going to win" and applies that to her self. The confidence with which she faces the underwater ghosts and the outer space sandmen veers more into cockiness and recklessness. Clara is right: taking the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself is a classic Doctor maneuver. But its an action that Clara takes without benefit of the Doctor's wisdom and his somewhat more indestructible nature.  

What Clara means to the Doctor. The Doctor is no more dangerous on Skaro than when he believes that Clara is dead and he has nothing left to lose. It is a similar grief that grips him in The Zygon Inversion. The Doctor is prepared to defy time to save Clara from the underwater ghosts. It is no surprise, then, to find out that the Doctor endured billions of years inside the Confession Dial just to get to Gallifrey, just so he could take over the planet, just so he get the use of the extraction device to save Clara from the moment of her death. And he continues to defy the Time Lords, the laws of time and even his own moral code (he straight up shoots a man dead. Thankfully the man in question was a Time Lord who could regenerate and she's doing much better now.)  

The Doctor's sacrifice to save Clara. Given how much Clara has meant to him, the loss of his memory of her is devastating. And there were hints and references. When Clara returns to the TARDIS at the end of The Woman Who Lived and the Doctor greets her with "Which one are you again?" When he tells the Zygon Clara that "Clara Oswald gets in your head... and never lets go" and then you see where the Doctor and Clara are at the end of Hell Bent. 

Overall, I would say Series 9 was an improvement over Series 8. I say that because the worst episodes of Series 9 was better than worst episode of Series 8 while the best of both years held up to same high level of quality.  

So Series 9 is in the history books. What's next for Doctor Who? We've got the Christmas special coming up and I'll have something about that in this space next week. 

Tomorrow, my breathless recounting of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Until then, remember to be good to one another.

My TV Friend

"TV is my friend. It makers everything so... simple... somehow." Les Nessman, WKRP in Cincinnati    Hi there! Dave-El here and ...