Doctor Who S8 (2014)

doctor-who-peter-capaldi

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I really had high hopes for Capaldi as the new Doctor. Last season slipped from must see to maybe, but I hoped a new Doctor would reinvigorate the show. Instead, it got worse, with a completely unlikable Doctor who tries to find out whether he’s a good guy or not (really, a thousand years old alien gets the midlife crisis, how novel) and a companion who discovers that what drives her relationship with the Doctor is an endless stream of lies. Everything on the show, every filler episode, every small detail leads back to the big theme that has been present since Moffat’s run on the show started, that the Doctor is the black hole at the center of the narrative, warping everything that happens until it leads back to him.

Sure, it’s called Doctor Who and he’s the main character, but a show that’s merely about exploring him, his nature whether good or bad, has become an endless boring and tedious navel-gazing that is a far call from showing the wonders of the universe with its often-times lightweight and frivolous but also fun adventures. And Moffat really can’t do finales, he builds them up like Russell T. Davies did, but the payoff is never worth it. Damn frustrating.

May 2018: I was rewatching the 8th season as I basically stopped there a few years ago to see whether my opinion had changed somewhat. Regarding what I wrote then, I still agree. On the one hand, the character dynamic between Clara and the Doctor is interesting, not because its completely different from others in the past, but because it focuses on the dysfunctional relationship between Doctor and companion that has been hinted at before, but never been explored as directly and how in some cases it can drive both of them to act pretty despicable.

That said, while I don’t mind characters dealing with complex issues, I don’t think Doctor Who is the right show for this. This is about having grand adventures, not about exploring the emotional issues of an immortal alien with a god complex and a companion addicted to adrenalin (while not dealing with personal issues). It makes both Clara and the Doctor look like pathetic, emotional crippled characters that should be in therapy, not running around the universe and solving other peoples problems or giving them speeches.

Some of the individual episodes were enjoyable with interesting concepts, like Time Heist or Flatline (which had a great threat and Clara playing the Doctor quite well), and the final two-parter (although I found Missy’s character a bit grating). Most of the episodes overall were not better or worse than in previous seasons (low points were the pointless Robot in Sherwood, the utterly moronic Kill the Moon and Deep Breath, an unusually weak 1st episode for a new Doctor).

It’s just that the dysfunctionality of Clara’s and the Doctor’s relationship crept into almost every episode and always felt like a sour note. Every time either of them lied to each other, it destroyed more of their credibility as characters and especially in Clara’s place often felt out of character and more than a little bit forced.

So overall, worth watching, but I still feel annoyed how they developed both the Doctor and Clara here and wish they’d something else with them.