Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Doctor Who Season 8 initial thoughts and a bit of a Gallifrey Gallivant moan

OK I've kept silent on the subject of Peter Capaldi's 13th Doctor for long enough.

Before I start, I am tired of people calling him (Capaldi) the twelfth Doctor - Paul McGann was the Eighth doctor and in the minisode : Night of the Doctor we saw him regenerate into John Hurt (The War Doctor and also now the 9th Doctor) and then into Eccleston (the 10th Doctor) who became Tennant, the 11th - all of the back story around Tranzalore, the Silence and the Fall of the 11th for Matt Smith (the 12th Doctor) was of course based on the fact that the Doctor from Ecclestone onwards kept his 'War Doctor' incarnation secret from everyone, seemingly also to himself on some levels due to his actions during the Time War, which of course we now know was actually his redemption and the necessarily secret removal of the planet Gallifrey from this universe.

However, here goes on the main body of my thoughts on series 8 so far (not season, we're not Americans !).

I think Capaldi is an inspired choice for the Doctor, loved his previous work - Malcolm Tucker is a work of genius character creation and an unbridled if evil, joy to watch.

However up to press, following episode 4 screened on Saturday 13th of September 2014, Capaldi is I think being poorly served by the writers, including Moffat. The season opener : Deep Breath was watchable if eminently forgettable fare : a Russell T Davis lite spectacle but little in the way of subtlety or depth and aside from excellent character turns by Capaldi and Coleman (mainly the restaurant scene) left me with no memories but that hideously poorly rendered, massively out of scale T-Rex. I did loathe the  slapstick Sontaran element but the inter-species lesbian love debate that arose from the story did cause me send positive feedback on Twitter and Facebook at the time.

An adequate if uninspired Dalek episode follows (when oh when will they temporarily retire the daleks to make their re-appearance actually shocking or meaningful?). On balance I thought this was a re-tread of previous Dalek stories including Robert Shearmans excellent 'Dalek' and the less brilliant season opener introducing the 'Clara-Dalek' (Asylum of the Daleks).

Then Robot of Sherwood. What can I say about this one. Each year Mark Gatiss is asked to write an episode. I idly wonder, if Stephen Moffat asks Gatiss to write 'the worst, silliest episode you can manage' because that's what he does, every year. At least he's consistent.

Robots are boring. They have by their very nature, no emotions or character - so why the hell should I care about their Promised Land - the answer is of course I don't. I suspect that the effort of creating and sustaining the crack in the wall, tardis exploding, silence is falling etc series arcs have left Moffat with nothing left to give but a wholly obvious and frankly tiresome arc that given the involvement of robots will also leave the rest of the audience not caring either. Maybe the Baker era Giant Robot will turn up in the Promised Land - Yawn !

So that's two episodes out of four that have a boring and pointless adversary - where are the Weeping Angels or Vashda Nerada when you need them ?

Which takes me to 'Listen' the fourth ep. On the surface a scary, character driven piece that finally delivers something of promise that Capaldi can work with. Enjoyed it immensely as a stand alone episode but the plot holes ..... aaarrrggghhh 111111

Who was on the bed during the scene in the children's home because if Clara was the cause of the whole 'grabbed by the ankle syndrome back on Gallifrey then there actually aren't any perfect hider monsters. Of course that doesn't work because we know there are, otherwise who pencilled 'listen' on the chalk board in the Tardis. Let's put aside how the telepathic Tardis never spotted a malevolent alien hider in the first place. Whilst we're at it we'd also better forget about the new telepathic console as well because that was never there before (we'd definitely have spotted a giant goo computer at some stage).

Of course if there aren't any ankle grabbing aliens then why does every human being in history have the same dream ?

Lastly and most importantly, if the planet Gallifrey is time-locked, a fact established throughout the first seven series of new Who then how on earth did the Tardis just stroll onto Gallifrey to allow Clare to visit a young pre-Academy doctor ?

The following article comes up with some good ideas on how and why so please check it out :

I do slightly disagree, although the Moment and the War Doctor did change our previous understanding of the Time War and it's conclusion my impression was that the Time Lock was still implemented by Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) following the events of the Day of the Doctor - the Gallifreyan council we saw was at an alternative location and I think they even referred obliquely in the episode to Rassilons War Council and the Time Lock plans.

Unless the Time Lock exists, the events in End of Time make little sense as the 'evil time' lords attempted to breach their own Time Lock'.

Whichever way you look at it, to obtain an (admittedly) shocking plot twist Steven Moffatt has put in place a real continuity problem that the destruction of the Time Lords and the Time War were created in 2005 to prevent. Davies admitted when re-booting the series that the Time Lords existence caused too many deus ex machina and continuity issues and effectively wrote them out of the plot for that reason.

At this point in time I am only half heartedly watching Dr Who - hoping for an improvement but not at present really expecting it.

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