Doctor Who: Looking Back at Season 8

Cap Promo
So THAT’S what a complete season in one go feels like. Huh. Season 8, Capaldi’s first,  has come and gone in a (sometimes controversial) whirl.

This was the most consistent season in modern Who. No question. Oh, you don’t think so? YOU’RE WRONG!! See, I win because this is my site. MY SITE! Does that make it my favourite season of modern Who, though..? Nope. Don’t get me wrong, it was often superb, but I think I’m still going with season five, Moffat’s first in charge. Now that had more middling episodes than eight, that’s for sure, but something about that run just does IT for me. The feel, the Doctor, the highs, the often giddy joy of it. Oh, and it STILL has the best season finale in all of modern Who. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang; that thing is fully awesome. (Oh, and it also has the best first episode for a Doctor in ‘The Eleventh Hour’. TRUTH.)

So not my personal favourite, but as I say, easily the most consistently strong season we’ve had, and at times there was much more emotion and thematic depth than we’ve been used to. Shit got deep. Possibly one of the reason’s it’s seemed to be a very divisive season,  along with Capaldi’s Doctor stepping away from the bouncy, cuddly, warm Doctor we’ve been used to. Bur WHAT a Doctor! Fierce, odd, funny, and, most importantly, so different to what we’ve just had. In some ways it was a risk going for Capaldi, it’s not what the modern audience are used to, but I think it seems to have gone over well with near universal acclaim for his take on the role, even from many people who think the actual episodes stink.

Oh, and Capaldi and Coleman made a wonderful duo. I liked Clara with Eleven, but with Twelve she really found her Doctor.

Okay, here are some quick thoughts on each episode:

Deep Breath

YAY!

A giant dinosaur in Victorian London coughing up the TARDIS? YUS PLZ!

WOAH, they REALLY took Clara up a few notches here, and Coleman plays it wonderfully.

That scene between the Doctor and Clara in the restaurant. Cor lumy, but that was terrific stuff. In fact, everything from that point on was amazing.

An air balloon fashioned from human skin.

‘Don’t look in that mirror, it’s absolutley furious!’

The Doctor in the alley with the poor homeless man. ACE.

The Doctor translating/maybe not really translating the dinosaur as he slept.

Capaldi is outstanding in this, his first full outing. Fierce, yes, but so very, very funny with it.

HMM…

On first appearance, I was not taken with Missy. ‘Huh, hum,’ thought I, ‘another villain played archly, I want someone who feels dangerous!’ (SPOILER: I ENDED UP LOVING MISSY. MIIIIIIIISSSYYYYYY…!)

We didn’t get to see Capaldi choose his outfit. I LIKE THOSE SCENES WITH A NEW DOCTOR, WAH! FAN ENTITLEMENT!!! PLEASE ME AND ME ALONE!

Yeah, we probably could have dropped a scene here or there (basically the Strax examining Clara scene). But I laughed when she got a newspaper to the mush. I LAUGHED.

Into The Dalek

YAY!

“Don’t be lasagne…”

“No, not like that, get it right.” The scene in which Journey Blue meets the Doctor aboard the TARDIS; gosh, LOVED IT. Capaldi was fantastic in this scene.

Our introduction here to Danny was nicely done, even if the close up on his little tear was a bit heavy-handed. (Well, A LOT heavy-handed) (A hand that weighed as much as 47 man-hands)

‘You, are a good Dalek’. Taking the words from ‘Dalek’ and taking it up a notch. Good stuff.

The Doctor’s more practical response to a death; we’re really seeing how different he is to what’s gone before.

“She cares so I don’t have to.”

The Doctor turning down Journey Blue. ( I TOTES thought he’d go back and pick her up at the end of the last episode.)

” I see… hatred..!” The Doctor allowing the creature into his mind.

HMM…

What on Earth was the soldiers end game when going into the Dalek? They never actually state what they hope to achieve, and that’s a problem. Clarity is all, if I’m asking such a basic question, then you haven’t given me the information I need. Perhaps it was lost between drafts or during the footage edit..? You can infer, but you don’t get a simply stated reason. Bad.

Yeah… it was a tad obvious what would happen when he fixed that leak….

The Dalek attack inside the ship at the end looked a bit…. flat..?

Into The Dalek

Robot of Sherwood

YAY!

On first watch? NOPE. NUH-UH. Did not greatly care for it, a few nice scenes aside. Then I watched it again and thought, you know what? This is really FUN. It’s a jolly. Really quite a disconcerting swerve to one side after Deep Breath and Into The Dalek, and perhaps that’s what threw me off at first. But come on, this is oodles of fun.

The relationship between Hood and the Doctor? Awesome. Their bickering whilst locked up in the cell is a thing of giddy joy.

Cool robot design, with lazer gun faces.

HMM...

Firing an arrow at a spaceship that somehow allows it to then fully take off and explode somewhere safe. I… whut..?

Wait, the girl in the castle was Maid Marion?! I had no idea that the woman revealed at the end was supposed to be the same one we had already met. Nope. Really poor job there. CLARITY!!!

Was this one perhaps a little too daft and cartoonish for the tone of season 8..? Perhaps. But nyeh, it were fun.

Listen

YAY!

ALL OF IT. JUST, FUCKING, ALL OF IT. HOLY SHIT. I MEAN. HOLY SHIT.

HMM…

I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THAT THIS WAS NOT PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. WON’T. NO. IT’S A TOP TEN OF ALL TIME GOD DAMN CLASSIC OF AN EPISODE!!! RAWWWRRR! *runs around screaming with pants on head*
Listen poster
Time Heist

YAY!

The Teller was really a cool creation, and what it did to people, turning their brains to soup..? YES.

It looked ace, props to the director, who did sterling work on all of his episodes this season.

Cutting from holding the phone to holding the memory worm in a different location was very cool.

HMM…

Well, this was a bit of a bump down to Earth after the sublime ‘Listen’…. I’m no Steve Thompson fan (One ACE ep of Sherlock aside) and this was another shit-the-bed moment. Even with Moffat co-writing, it failed to deliver.

The central heist made NO SENSE. Really. NO SENSE.

If you want to wipe peoples memories so they can get past a monster that could detect their guilt, perhaps don;t fill them in on what’s happening until AFTER they get past said monster, otherwise what the hecks the point? They know what they’re doing, just not how or why. DUMB. They still know they’re trying to break in to a bank. GUH.

There wasn’t enough time spent making the additional two companions any more than rudimentary cartoon cut-outs for me. Some people seemed to LOVE them. Colour me confused.

The Architect twist. This was some serious rug pulling there guyz, respect! I was all like ‘whaa?!?!’ and ‘AXZGFGGGT!!!@!’ I mean. Well. To be honest I’d worked it out a couple of minutes into the episode; who the heck else was it going to be?

Ms Delphox. An arch, cartoon baddie; cool, fair enough, they can be fun. BUT, if an episode is resting on the revelation that it’s an elderly version of her who has a bout of regret and sets the heist in motion, perhaps you need to delve a bit deeper into the character, show there’s more to her, so that it’s possible to swallow the idea. So that you can understand the Doctor jumping to this conclusion and being right.

For an impregnable bank, it was pretty easily, uh, pregged..?

I’d been loving the Doctor/Clara banter up to this point, but it seemed to fall flat for some reason in those early scenes here.

Poorest episode of the season for me. Come on Moffat, give Stevey T a rest now, he’s had three episodes, give someone else his slot, plz. (He’ll totally be writing an episode for season 9, won’t he..? *sigh…*)

The Caretaker

YAY!

I always like episodes penned by Gareth Roberts, but even so I was surprised by just HOW MUCH I liked this one. So funny; really, properly funny stuff that then swerved into high, emotional drama.

The Doctor assuming Clara was dating the teacher who reminded him a bit of the Eleventh Doctor.

Danny and the Doctor in the TARDIS, hoo-boy that was some explosive stuff.

Gosh, was Capaldi ACE in this. His little altercation with Courtney was fab. OH! And having her drop lunch in the TARDIS when he takes her for a trip; cool stuff.

HMM…

The Blitzer robot thingy was a bit on the naff side.

Danny’s sudden burst of silly gymnastic’s. Uh… yeah… No.

The ‘racism’ thing that was gabbed about after broadcast. Because the Doctor (for clearly stated reasons) is mean to Danny, who happens to be black. So much liberal hand-wringing on that there internet. IT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS A SOLIDER. NOT A BLACK SOLDIER, A SOLDIER. Poor Gareth Roberts. 😦 Look, I get why it might ping some peoples radar, because there is a little bit of a history about how white people have treated black people (No, really, Google it if you don’t believe me) but it saddens me that this seemed to create such frothing debate. It was because he dislikes soldiers. SOLDIERS. They couldn’t have made it much clearer.

Kill The Moon

YAY!

Well this one ruffled a few feathers, hey..?!? The Doctor ducking out of the big decision, the was-it-or-wasn’t-it a pro/anti-choice conversation, Clara’s putting the Doctor in his place, A GIANT DRAGON HATCHING FROM THE MOTHER-COCKING MOON. This was no tentative first script from Peter Harness, this was a bold swing for the fences. For me? He pulled it off.

Creepy-ass spider thingies.

The Doctor at his most alien.

Blimey, Clara was top in this.

HMM…

Courtney didn’t get to do a whole lot…

That egg GIANT MOON DRAGON laid at the end was a bit…. big..?

Some of the edit felt a little… off at times. Like moments had been sliced out of certain scenes.

People who only saw it as anti-choice, thereby completely ignoring all the stuff that was anti-anti-choice, because it’s better to be angry and stamp your lickle feet than admit it was a little more grey and complex than that.

moon

 

Mummy on The Orient Express

YAY!

A season highlight, no question.

That Mummy was PROPER ace looking. Even if one dolt I saw on the internet complained that it was actually “crappy CGI”. People be dumb.

The on-screen countdown gimmick worked an absolute treat, emphasising how short a time each victim had; you could FEEL the tension as the seconds counted down.

The Doctor taking on the Mummy himself, and defeating it in 66 seconds.

….Clara in silk pyjamas.

Frank Skinner was surprisingly brill in his role. Okay, he wasn’t asked to do that much, but he was funny. (I totally thought it was going to be revealed that only the Doctor was seeing him for whatever reason. But no.)

“Sometimes all you have are bad choices, but you still have to choose.” That beach scene. Ace.

Jelly baby?

CAPALDI! Just… CAPALDI! So good.

HMM…

Another monster that wasn’t really a monster? Probably  a bit overused that. This was so ace I’ll overlook it, but, yeah…

Who was behind the whole thing? Will we get to see later on? Not super important, but it very vaguely niggled.

Flatline

YAY!

What a FANTASTIC idea for a monster. I can think of no higher praise than saying the Boneless are the kind of threat I’d normally expect Moffat to deliver. Yeah, they’re THAT ace.

Loved the Doctor’s little speech as the TARDIS was returned to it’s normal exterior size.

The Doctor dances.

Clara working out how to trick the Boneless. YUS.

‘Goodness, had nothing to do with it.’

HMM…

This one got HEAPS of praise, and I liked it a bunch, but I don’t think I enjoyed it quuiiiite as much as most people. The constant cutting back into the tiny TARDIS started to annoy for some reason. I think they should have got it into siege mode much earlier and had Clara seemingly cut-off and REALLY on her own for much longer. Think how much more the threat would feel then.

Riggsy was a little too eager to give up his life on that train, almost reluctant not too once it was made clear by Clara that he didn’t have too. I’ve read people defending that moment, but it still seems  a little too much to me.

Don’t answer the phone, Clara, call him back when you’re not in imminent danger!!!

In the Forest of the Night

YAY!

This looked amazing, the director really did a terrific job, especially the way she handled the scenes inside the TARDIS.

You know what, this episode charmed me. It was charming. I enjoyed watching it, it felt fun.

The Doctor repeating Clara’s words from ‘Kill the Moon’ back to her. Oh yes.

HMM…

There was no sense of threat AT ALL. None. Zilch. Nada.

So one phone call from a little girl asking the world not to do something? That’s the plan you’re going with? Okay.

The sister appearing from behind the magic bush. That’s almost Tennant-lighting-the-Olympic-torch levels of bite your fist, cringe-inducingly awful cheese. *shudders*

Where were all the people in London..?

LOOK, I kinda liked it, alright? I’M SORRY.

Dark Water

Dark Water

YAY!

MISSY IS THE MASTER FGKGSHSLH*3!

Coleman knocks it out of the park, as she has all season. Boy howdy is she terrific.

“Do you think I care for you so little, that betraying me would make a difference?” Sorry, I’ve just… something in my eye…

A two-parter! WOO-HOO-!

The woman picking up Danny’s phone to talk to Clara.

Missy. MISSY.

Three words…

SNOG.

HMM…

Yeah, um, maybe drop that outside scene so you might have been able to keep the Cyberman reveal a bit more under wraps, hm? it felt like it was supposed to be more of a surprise than it was.

Seriously. Missy was awesome.

Can’t the Doc just click his fingers to open the TARDIS door..? I rationalised it so that he still had to have a key on him for it to work, but come on, you shouldn’t overlook this stuff, just dismiss it as unimportant if you yourself came up with the gimmick in the first bloomin’ place. It slightly spoiled the scene because the question was rolling around my head.

Death in Heaven

YAY!

MISSY! MASTER! MISSY! MASTER!

“Hey Missy you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Missy.”

“I’m going to kill you in a minute.”

Missy was amazing every time she was on-screen. Just magnetically bonkers and at times chilling. That whole scene with Osgood was terrific.

‘All of space and time?’

The Cybermen attacking a plane and tearing it apart. YES THANK YOU PLEASE.

They killed someone we liked. YES. LOVE IT. MORE OF THIS.

Galifrey wasn’t there. The Doctor’s breakdown. Oh my yes. Amazing stuff.

Never trust a hug.

Danny is turned into a Cyberman and then dies, a great way to go out. If sliiiiiiiightly spoiled by him still apparently being ‘alive’ in the Matrix. Which… hm.

A great season finale, not up there with Pandorica/The Big Bang for me, but solid stuff.

HMM…

I didn’t have a problem with what they did with the Brigadier, what I DID have a problem with was that I think it was a daft way to finish off (yeah, yeah, she teleported away I KNOW) the Master. We have not seen this character. Not just this episode, but at all in the modern series. He’s been briefly mentioned a couple of times. Briefly mentioned once in this episode. Now I loved the Doctor saluting him at the end, but it just does not feel right to me to give a more or less invisible character such a vital moment at the end.

So… why did Missy put Clara and the Doctor together? In the end it seemed there was no real, clear reason. She could’ve got the Doctor to a building in London any number of ways!

How was the little boy able to walk out of the Matrix? Alive? With a flesh body? The Matrix doesn’t store flesh bodies. What I miss here..?

Santa. I… hmm… not sure how I feel about that… Prove me wrong, Christmas special!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Like I said at the start, the most consistent season of modern Who. Easy. Moffat has really changed his game here, it felt new and different to the Smith era; Moffat pulled it off. And wow, what a different take on the Doctor we got here, Capaldi was MAGNETIC. I can’t wait to see where they go next, and who will be joining Capaldi for the ride…

Overall Season rating: 8.5/10

So… what did YOU think of season 8, and what were your fave episodes..?

(Episode posters by @stuart_manning )

Listen

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2 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Looking Back at Season 8”

  1. I agree with this being the most consistent season so far. It was wonderful. I’d just like to say that we have seen the Master in the modern series (series 3), but I agree that how they ended things with Missy was a bit too obvious.
    As far as episodes go, Listen, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline are my top 3. The only thing that bothered me this season was … Danny. Somehow it was just really hard for me to warm up to him. Maybe it’s because we weren’t shown how the relationship between him and Clara developed, but to me it all just felt a bit forced. And when I finally started liking him in the last two episodes … well, we all know what happened.
    Thank you for your detailed comment on series 8, I appreciate it!

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