Doctor Who Series 8 Premiere Review

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By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)


SPOILERS AHEAD


After months of anticipation, Peter Capaldi finally made his debut as the 12th Doctor in the series 8 premiere of Doctor Who. Though one episode is hardly enough on which to judge an actor, the episode showed Capaldi gave it all he had and was excited to be the Doctor and I can’t wait to see more from him. The writing, though, was disjointed and almost ruined the whole thing.

It’s not anything new to say Steven Moffat has been upsetting fans with his writing for a few years now. In fact, when it was announced Capaldi would be taking the reigns from Matt Smith, it wasn’t him I was worried about – it was Moffat. He has been chided for his written treatment of women before and this episode, titled “Deep Breath,” was no different.

Elements of the episode included old friends Madame Vastra and her wife Jenny, whom I think are part of the show just so Moffat can say, “Look, diversity! We have lesbians!” Don’t get me wrong; the two of them are great, but their writing is not. Vastra’s mind games were exasperating. To grill Clara about the Doctor and insist that she’s superficial to have thought of him romantically was irritating. The whole, “Is he your boyfriend?” and, “You must not like him now that he’s ‘old’,” parts were plain annoying. We get it, he has a new face!

Moffat’s treatment of Clara is awful and has been for some time. Jenna Coleman deserves better. It’s no wonder rumor has it she’s leaving the show after this year’s Christmas special. A friend of mine and I were talking about her a few days ago and we mentioned the fact that she’s forgettable. It’s no fault of Coleman’s. She does her best with what she’s given and has the potential to be a memorable, classic companion and she just isn’t. Her verbal smack down of Vastra was great, though, and I will definitely miss her when she leaves.

The episode’s storyline was dark, if a little boring. Picking up shortly after the Doctor’s regeneration, he and Clara find themselves crash-landing in Victorian London after being thrown up by a dinosaur that later spontaneously combusts (or does she?). These aspects lend themselves to meta references which are always fun and the harvesting-organs-for-the-black-market aspect was interesting, but I wanted more.

All of this is not to say the episode was bad. In fact, there were some shining moments. The scene where Clara and the Doctor sat in the restaurant and tried to figure out what was wrong cemented their chemistry and made me anxious to see how their relationship will continue. The fact that they pushed each other’s buttons like brother and sister instead of playing up possible underlying romantic feelings from the past was refreshing. (Side note – were the Clockwork droids the same as the ones from “The Girl in the Fireplace”?)

Doctor transitions are never easy so I appreciated Matt Smith’s cameo to ease us into a new era. However, it just showed how different Smith and Capaldi are and how that is actually a good thing. But that doesn’t mean Capaldi is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Smith. He’s funny like Smith’s Doctor was – that line about his eyebrows was priceless!

Also of interest? The last minute introduction of Missy, who claims to be the Doctor’s girlfriend. But who is she really: friend or foe?

This premiere was a great introduction to a new Doctor, but regarding the rest of the season, I’m torn. I want to see more Capaldi as 12, but not as written by Moffat and therein lies the conundrum. Still, there was enough to keep me interested and I will tune in next week for sure.

What did you think of the Doctor Who premiere?

Rating: 6.8 out of 10 stars


    2 Comments

  1. hazelAugust 25th, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I completely agree with everything you have written here. I got the exact same feeling. I’m really excited about Capaldi as the 12th doctor, but I’m tired of Moffett’s writing. The odd thing is that Moffett is really great as the showrunner for Sherlock, so why is he slowly ruining Doctor Who? Maybe he doesn’t get his own characters, or maybe he’s just tired. I don’t know, but I’m hoping, things get better.

  2. Leif-ErikAugust 26th, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I quite liked this episode and find it to be a very good jumping off point for Capaldi’s 12th Doctor.

    I do have to disagree with you on some of the points you made in your piece. I feel Vastra’s initial treatment of Clara is justified as it followed Clara’s despair over the Doctor’s change and her wanting to change him back. I find it to be similar to Rose’s reaction when 9 changed to 10. She wanted him to change back and was similarly in despair, only back then Rose was surrounded by family and loved ones who consoled her. Clara was surrounded by the Doctor’s friends who rose to his defense. Different circumstances demanded a different result. However, I think that whole sequence was to show how strong the character of Clara is and her potential as a companion with her immediate and intense backlash towards Vastra.

    I also think it’s been very difficult for Clara as a character and Jenna as an actress to really find her place in Doctor Who. She had the incredibly hard task to take over for the Ponds. Anyone who thinks of Smith’s tenure as the 11th Doctor will automatically think of the Ponds as his companion’s. That’s just the way it is. So to take over from that is hard enough. That led straight into the 50th anniversary special and from there right on into Matt Smith’s regeneration special. She never really had a chance to establish herself in my opinion. Jenna has the ability, in my opinion, to make Clara something special in the pantheon of companions now that she is out of the shadow of the Ponds and from Smith’s Doctor.

    I actually quite like the question about the 12th Doctor’s face. We’ve always heard that regeneration is a lottery but what if it’s a little more than that. What if there is a reason behind it. I think it’s an intriguing question to ask. It’s also interesting to me to delve into why THAT face. We’ve seen that face before in the Doctor Who universe not only once, but twice.

    I do think it’s a tad unfair to say that Moffat only has Vastra and Jenny around to play the diversity card. In my opinion that’s a little like saying the BBC was doing that when they hired Davies to relaunch the show in the first place. I think we can put that card back in the deck now that they are on their fourth appearance in the show. And let’s not forget it was Moffat who created the character of Captain Jack Harkness so this isn’t exactly new territory for him.

    Side note stuff: As to your question about the Clockwork droids in the episode. It is easy to miss the line in the climax of the episode but the Doctor does say the ship they are in in the Marie Antoinette which is the sister ship of the Madame De Pompadour. This says to me that they are not the exact same droids from The Girl in the Fireplace but are of similar design.

    To conclude, I have faith in Moffat and his ability. His series 6 was a masterpiece of storytelling in my opinion. I’m looking forward to see where he’s taking the story. Moffat’s premiers are always full of questions that don’t get answered until the end of the season and that’s if you’re lucky. The one thing I do know for sure is that’s almost always a lot of fun along the way.

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