Doctor Who: Summing Up Season 8

My apologies for the blog lacking so much Doctor Who material. After half a season I realized I’d been repeating myself. So I decided I would only write another review if I had something different to say. When that didn’t happen, I resigned to do a season wrap up. Which came much later than intended.

Season 8 was a tired season. I’m not referring to its pacing or the age of Mr. Capaldi. By this I mean the writing. Specifically Moffat. One couldn’t help but feel this has all been done before, and much better. His characters have become paler and paler copies of each other. His “mysteries” have no major impact on any one or any thing, making them totally uninteresting. The over saturation of timely-wimey (something until now I’ve passionately defended) has lost all luster.

I can’t escape the sensation that Moffat has lost sight of why his strengths work so well. Actors love to fire out his crisp dialogue. He can treat his audience with intelligence. His encyclopedic knowledge of fandom sprinkled throughout his stories were perfect touches. All of these worked for him in season 5. By season 8 actors seemed to all be spouting the same dialogue. Instead of not talking down to, or holding the audience’s hand, he blatantly contradicts himself and entirely omits information for the sake of a dull mystery. And his direct references of fandom has become obtrusive pandering.

Luckily he cast Peter Capaldi.

Without a doubt Capaldi was the strongest part of this season. His performance was jarring at first, but grew so organically that by the end he commanded the role masterfully. Yes, he’s grumpy. Yes, he’s a tad detached. But he plays it SO well that I accept it with open arms. I believe that by the end of his era he will be held as an equal to Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker, and Matt Smith.

My other favorite character was Danny Pink. He was such a kind and genuine soul carrying scars he just wants to heal. I think the way Clara treated him was borderline cruel and totally selfish. However, his journey from awkward ex-soldier to hero was just splendid.

As for Missy, the “mystery” of the season. For the most part, I didn’t care in the slightest. She’s simply a distraction from the main story. A cutaway. Whatever she was doing had no impact on anything until the very end. Dark Water was a stupendously creepy, slightly disturbing story that was practically ruined by yet another “feisty” female character who wants nothing more than to fuck The Doctor.

Death in Heaven, on the other hand, was saved by Missy’s viciousness. She loves being deadly so much that it literally made my skin crawl. A nice change after the flamboyant John Simm Master.

I love that the season ended on such a cold, quiet, uncertain note. That’s the sort of thing I was talking about before. An example of Moffat treating his audience intelligently. He doesn’t wrap everything up for us, but he doesn’t just leave Shit out either. We know Gallifrey is out there, we just don’t know where. We’re shown that The Master is still full of lies. We have no idea what that means yet, but it doesn’t matter…yet.

Overall a disappointing season with a few high points. In no way does this ruin my love of the show. Doctor Who is always about moving forward and changing. So my hopes are high.


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