Doctor Who: Series 8, Rated
So, it’s time to bid a fond farewell to another season of Doctor Who. The world’s favourite TV series about a man romping through space and time in a magic box with a questionably phallic light-up appendage has come to an end for another year (Christmas special excluded) and it’s time to take a look at how season 8 panned out. Needless to say: SPOILERS!
1. Deep Breath
Why: Well, let’s face it, the season open dragged horribly in it’s feel-every-second seventy-minute run time. It re-used old villains for no real reason, spent too much time with Vastra, Jenny and Strax when they had a whole new Doctor to play with, and was speckled with annoying plot holes. Was anyone else disappointed about the lack of dinasours?
2. Into the Dalek
Why: I think the premise for this episode was really interesting, but the execution was problematic. Like Journey to the Centre of the Tardis last season, this episode didn’t make the most of an opportunity to explore an iconic Who machine, and the story itself was bereft of a second act altogether. Zawe Ashton as Journey Blue was predictably amazing, though.
3. Robot of Sherwood
Why: I like this episode because it’s basically just a silly romp with gallons of camp, a sense of fun, and a chance for the Doctor to really interact with new characters. Sure, the plot wasn’t any great stakes, and it was completely throwaway. But this episode was carried through on it’s powerful joie de vivre. And everyone’s secret crush on Ben Elton as the Sheriff.
Why: This was a sensational episode, probably the standout of the series: an ambitious idea, executed brilliantly, tying in broader series theme with an interesting central plot and some amazing performances. A strong performance from Capaldi and Coleman- as well as more of the lovely Samuel Anderson than you can shake a stick at- was the icing on the cake.
5. Time Heist
Why: Time Heist was such an audaciously brilliant idea- Soderbergh in space, basically- that the actual content of the episode was elevated by the premise. The monster was scary, Keeley Hawes was a delight, and the whole episode was gorgeously constructed with some utterly absorbing secondary characters. Wildly entertaining.
6. The Caretaker
Why: Look, I love(d) Danny Pink with a passion, but one of the only episodes that gave him real time to shine was actually kind of forgettable. While not offensively bad, the ending was ironically silly in a way that didn’t work, and the plot itself was basically nothing special. Not bad necessarily, but nothing to write home about.
7. Kill the Moon
This episode was divisive, and it’s pretty clear to see which side of the divide I fall on. With uninspired characters, inconsistency in characterisation, a confused plot, silly monsters, and a tacked-on pro-choice message that seemed out of place, Kill the Moon was a spectacular stinker. Sear it from your memory.
8. Mummy on the Orient Express
Mummy was a pleasing rebound after the colossal misstep that was Kill the Moon. Frank Skinner did a great job against Capaldi’s dour Doctor, while the idea behind the mummy was really clever and it looked pretty cool. It was smart, witty, and fast-paced fun with a nicely self-contained plot and some fun character moments for the Doctor and Clara.
Flatline was packed with really clever visual humour, and gave Clara a chance to take on a different role as the main problem solver (well, almost). But the villains weren’t exploited to their full potential, basically acting as a framing device for themes and ideas when I’d have quite liked to see Clara battling villains on her own terms for once.
10. In the Forest of the Night
Forest was a massive eye-roll for me: aside from basically telling viewers that taking children off medication used to treat mental disorders was a great idea, the plot flailed about all over the place to make some deep, emotional point while the amazingly cool sets became irrelevant. This was a boring episode, which is even worse than a truly terrible one.
11. Dark Water
Bouncing back once again, the first half of the finale was amazing: a powerfully emotionally, devastatingly acted, carefully plotted masterwork that launched the end off to a great start. Samuel Anderon as Danny Pink and Jenna Coleman as Clara had a belter of an episode, while the plot promised something fascinating and brand-new.
12. Death in Heaven
Which then wasn’t delivered. Death in Heaven was a mess. Basically forgetting that they’d brought the Master back in order to focus on rubbish UNIT subplots and Clara running around spewing all the misleading lines from the trailer. Aside from one or two decent emotional beats, Death in Heaven was the worst kind of disappointment.