Back to Space Dad: Our first classic Doctor of the Modern Age.

January 12, 2015 5:19 pm

With blushing red lips and a main of curly blond hair, the word “spoilers” uttered from River Song’s lips hardly need to be warned from the upcoming review of season eight of Doctor Who that has just graced our screens.
It is still a family occasion; no other show determines a count down when dinner will be ready by. Certainly this is the case in my house. The hype is hard to miss, even for a non-Whovian. Even if you have never watched an episode of Doctor Who, you know what a TARDIS is or what are Darlek is, and for that matter, the Darlek’s famous catch cry is. Do I need to say it?

2014 is the fifty-first year of Doctor Who and it looks like it has no intention on stopping. Which is great news for us fans because the fans are the life blood of Doctor Who’s longevity. Even with the hiatus of the 1990’s (In which we had our longest and shortest running Doctor, Paul McGann) the show was kept alive by the fans in books, radio shows and comics.

Let me take you back to 4th August 2013 when Peter Capaldi was introduced to us as the upcoming twelfth Doctor. I was rather shocked when he was announced. Not only had this guy been in Doctor Who (and Torchwood) before; he wasn’t ginger.

Unlike many young, new fans of Doctor Who that have jumped on the band wagon since 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, I was use to the Doctor being a young and dashing hero, however I knew that the Doctor has moreover been an older gentleman and it has only been since the re-boot we have had very young men play the role, so this casting was good news. The only Doctor that was young and dashing from the classic series was Peter Davidson. So we should have been more excited to see a Doctor going back to the roots of the character. But one question remains: How was Capaldi going to hold up? and how were Capaldi’s previous roles in Doctor Who and Torchwood going to be tied into this regeneration? Comparing him to his previous roles such as Malcolm Tucker from The Thick Of It, I was expecting him to lose the TARDIS and be yelling down the streets of London, “Where the F**k is it?!”

Thankfully, Capaldi has risen to the role magnificently. He is incredible. Dynamic, quick, dramatic and critical, he is the Doctor we had to have. He is unpredictable but you have to trust him as much as his previous incarnations. Where Tennant and Smith would run back, sonic blazing to save his companion in a double heartbeat, Capaldi has left Clara on her own a few times now for just a little bit too long. Which I think has led to Clara feeling rather bemused by the whole time and space travel thing.

Jenna Coleman is likeable, intelligent and has an amazing range of dresses. However, this year Clara had her pretty wonder boy dashed from her and was left with a Doctor that was very hard to…kidneys…follow. In light of the fact that Capaldi and Coleman are now aesthetically years apart unlike with Smith, there was now room to bring in a handsome male companion. This brings us to Danny Pink.

No offence to Samuel Anderson, this is a review of the portrayal of the characters that the script has dictated. The way in which Pink treated the Doctor and Clara really upset me. I think it is good to have characters that oppose the Doctor when he’s trying to help them. It is a cliché of the show that whatever context and time period the episode is based, the general public usually listen to every word that the Doctor says, no questions asked. Although, this is occasionally challenged in episodes such as S4 Ep10 ‘Midnight’, things do revert back to the Doctor being in charge most of the time. The problem with Danny’s character was that he criticised the Doctor without knowing anything about him, not even going on a trip with him that would justify any opinion that he may have of the Doctor. His only rebuttal statement is that he “knows men like that.” Like what? What comparison is that? The Doctor, fresh from regeneration hardly knows himself at this point. How is Danny so sure about the Doctor? Danny is purely prejudice and I don’t think that’s a great role model for anyone. The way Danny mocked the Doctor inside the TARDIS was downright rude in episode six, ‘The Caretaker’.

What is more unpleasant about Danny’s character is the way he treated Clara. From episode six we had Clara declaring her love for Danny and I just rolled my eyes and felt Clara loose a few integrity points.
What happened to Clara defending herself that she didn’t need a pretty boy in episode one? Suddenly she was infatuated with a guy that was dismissive of her and apologised when she thought she had offended him, avoiding any confrontation. In episode six, Danny accused Clara of lying to him about the space and time traveling. I don’t think she lied; I think it’s sometimes very hard for the companions of Doctor Who (and Torchwood) to tell their family and friends about space man. Remember when Jackie Tyler and Rhys Williams found out?

Plus, Pink emotionally blackmailed Clara when he said that if she was pushed too hard emotionally by the Doctor and she didn’t tell him, that he would leave her. That is not the reaction I would consider to be of a stable and committed relationship. I’d just leave you instead about talking about it. I agree with the Doctor, he’s a boyfriend error.

Of course, with the Doctor and Danny disliking each other so much, the writing was primed for Danny to prove that he could be a hero. That brings us to the season final double episodes. I’ve already blown the TARDIS doors off with spoilers so far and if you haven’t watched the season finale. Please stop reading, go watch it and come back.

The Danny hero moment was also tinged with sadness as sympathy needed to be expressed to see Danny’s transformation be complete. Occasionally, as the show moves on, certain universal rules are broken in order for new story ideas to work. Since the Cybermen have returned to Doctor Who in season two, the way to stop them was to break their emotional inhibitor. The digital chip that stopped Cybermen feeling the pain of being transformed from human to cyborg. This rule of destroying Cybermen was crushed in the season final as Danny, now looking like the emo tin man, tells Clara that his inhibitor is off. In any other episode with Cybermen, if the emotional inhibitor was off, you would run for your life as cyber heads blew off left, right and centre. But not with cyber-Danny, it forced Clara to again be apologetic for something she didn’t do, kill him or turn him into a monster. The transformation process was also changed. The Cybermen can now convert corpses which means Danny got to keep his face, unlike other Cybermen where only the brain is kept.

Enough of Danny, let’s talk about Missy. The reoccurring Mary Poppins from hell antagonist.
Okay, so the mystery of the season was to find out who Missy was. There were plenty of theories circulating the internet for months. Plenty of them were rather interesting, Rani, The TARDIS, future Clara or River Song. What annoyed me was how easy it was to guess in the end. I was hoping Moffat would have a trick up his sleeve once again and the reveal would be something that hadn’t been discussed yet. In the same way Clara’s metanarrative was revealed in season seven part two final. But no.

The Master is back and looking good in heels.

I really loved Michelle Gomez’s performance as Missy. I could definitely see a bit of Jon Simm had inspired her performance. The homicidal maniac made you laugh uncomfortably as she mascaraed. There has talk for some years now if the Doctor could ever be played by a woman. Moffat has been criticised for his lack of well-rounded female characters. Now Missy has appeared, it is highly likely that the Doctor will be a woman in the next few years. Although, Capaldi doesn’t have to rush out of the role just yet.

In episode one, season eight, we saw ‘heaven’ which was exactly the same set as episode ten, season six “The Girl Who Waited.”. Which made me think we were back on planet Apalapucia. My theory was that Missy created a pocket universe out of time with the rest of reality. As the dead were being recruited, I thought that these were all the people that the Doctor had failed and that they would come back as an army to take revenge on him. It something that the Doctor had faced before, how many people had died in his name. What we got instead was something a bit soft. There was an army of the dead, the Doctor’s army. There is always been a bit of a love/hate relationship between the Doctor and the Master. Seeing as the Master has now recovered from tinnitus that led to the crazy antics in John Simm’s incarnation, this could open up more communication between the two of them. Besides, all the Master was doing was trying to impress the Doctor anyway. It’s just Missy/Master has been insane for so long, love is a complex emotion for the Time Lord.

I hope we get to see more of Missy, I hope she doesn’t disappear into the shadows like how she exited the season final. I hope Moffat will take us back to Pompeii because Capaldi’s face is important. “Why this face?” said the Doctor in episode one this year, “Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something. Like I’m trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can’t just tell myself what I’m thinking? I’m not just being rhetorical here. You can join in.”

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