Good evening! Once again, I’m talking about Doctor Who‘s eighth series, but today it’s just me – no co-reviewers. Now that the series has (more or less) finished airing, I thought it would be neat to examine various aspects of the entire story.
(I say “more or less” because the 2014 Christmas special hasn’t aired yet, and I’m pretty sure that it counts as part of series eight. I want to talk about series eight now, though, while it’s still fresh in my mind and in yours.)
This is a loooooong post, so before you read this it’s probably a good idea to find a comfy chair to sit in, and some jelly babies to munch on. Enjoy!
To my lovely co-reviewers: THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. You’re amazing. You really are. When I asked for people to review series eight with me I expected, oh, maybe three or four volunteers? I definitely didn’t expect to review any more than half the episodes with other bloggers.
But thanks to eleven amazing people, I was able to co-review all the episodes. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! It was SO much fun and I plan to make this a regular feature on Musings From Neville’s Navel whenever new episodes of Doctor Who are airing.
Before I list my contributors and their reviews, I’d like to say one more thing: I want to give an even bigger thank-you to the bloggers who agreed to switch review dates with one another due to scheduling conflicts. The schedule I ended up with wasn’t the one I originally thought I’d be following, but I was still able to post all the reviews in a timely manner. Thanks.
Without further ado, LET’S HAVE A BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR MY CO-REVIEWERS!
- “Deep Breath” with Quentin AKA my brother
- “Into the Dalek” with Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes
- “Robot of Sherwood” with Star @ The Place The Universe Forgot
- “Listen” with Matt @ The Little Engine That Couldn’t
- “Time Heist” with MagicFishy @ The Magic Fishy
- “The Caretaker” with Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words
- “Kill the Moon” with Bridget @ Stay and Watch the Stars
- “Mummy on the Orient Express” with Alexandrina Brant @ Miss Alexandrina
- “Flatline” with Kate @ The Magic Violinist
- “In the Forest of the Night” with Mawa Mahima @ All Things Wordy
- “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven” with Sabrina Wolfheart @ Books And Bark
Again, thank you so much!
P.S. Artgirl @ Alien Cows, I know you wanted to review part of this series but were unable to. I’m still up for reviewing the Christmas special with you if you want! (Also, apologies for that spoiler thing last night. Oops…)
And now, before I move on to the analyze-y section of this post, here’s a quick list of my favorite series eight episodes! #1 is my favorite, and so on and so forth.
- “Deep Breath”
- “In the Forest of the Night”
- “Time Heist”
- “Death in Heaven”
- “Into the Dalek”
- “Dark Water”
- “Robot of Sherwood”
- “Mummy on the Orient Express”
- “Kill the Moon”
- “The Caretaker”
What were your favorite/least favorite episodes from this series?
Time for fun analyses and stuff!
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Was Twelve everything I expected and hoped for? Yes… and no. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated.
I loved seeing a darker, older, more sarcastic Doctor. He really reminded me of Nine in some ways, which was AWESOME because Nine is my favorite. Actually, he really combined aspects from multiple previous Doctors, didn’t he? His costume is a throwback to Three’s, and his personality is reminiscent of Nine’s.
And then there’s the physicality of Peter Capaldi’s acting. It’s hard to explain, but I think Capaldi is similar to Matt Smith in this regard – perhaps not as flail-y, but always messing with something or hopping from foot to foot when he’s bored or whatever. (Maybe these pictures will help to clarify what I’m talking about?)
I also loved Twelve’s friendship with Clara. I don’t mind a flirtier Doctor every now and then, but I’m glad that their relationship is strictly platonic – it was a nice change, and even Twelve says that he’s basically her “space dad.”
However, this was also my biggest problem with the new Doctor: Apparently the writers don’t know of any way for him to show that he doesn’t like her that way other than by making disparaging comments about her appearance or something. Ugh. Seriously, stop. Look, I know the Doctor isn’t always nice, but he shouldn’t say stuff like that to his companions.
So, what’s my final verdict on Twelve? I’m going to say I like him about as much as I like Ten, or maybe just a little less – so he’s a pretty cool guy, but not quite my favorite. And that opinion will probably change someday because he’s still so new right now and we’ve only seen one series with him so far. I look forward to seeing his character development in series nine!
[Noises of discomfort] Oh, Clara. You WERE better in series eight than in series seven, but I actually don’t think that says very much because YOUR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT HAD NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP.
I’m glad that Clara Oswald was treated as an actual character and not merely as a plot device, and she seemed to have more spunk. I LOVED her scenes in “Deep Breath,” “Robot of Sherwood,” and “Flatline.”
And I loved her outfit in “Time Heist” like OH MY GOD how is she such a freaking CUTIE PIE?!
But I found her relationship with Danny (more on him below) frustratingly BORING, and she was incredibly wishy-washy about whether or not she wished to continue traveling with the Doctor. It became irritating very quickly.
Final verdict? Um. Hmmm. Probably still my least favorite character after Amy Pond. I mean, she really improved during this series, but in my opinion that doesn’t cancel out her blandless in series seven.
Gah, I’m so conflicted because I really did/do want to like her. For what it’s worth, she is absolutely AMAZING in some episodes… but less so in others.
POOR SOLDIER DUDE, LET ME GIVE YOU A HUG. I THINK YOU NEED IT.
I was so excited when it was announced that there’d be a second companion in the TARDIS – because the more the merrier, you know? I was so excited to see Danny travel through time and space, but then he… didn’t.
He spent barely any time on the TARDIS, and spent most of his time there being belittled by the Doctor, and the rest of his screentime was devoted to an incredibly dull romantic relationship with Clara. He’s a great guy, but I feel that we didn’t see him often enough. Blergh. I loved seeing his interactions with kids, and I loved that subplot about being a soldier once upon a time, but there just weren’t enough scenes like that and it makes me grumpy.
From the beginning of the series, I thought she was most likely either the Master or River Song – but because I asked my co-writers for their theories, I heard a lot of interesting ideas and so didn’t settle upon ONE theory. Also, Missy = Mistress = Master seemed way too obvious!
But as it turns out, she is the Master, and a fine one at that. Michelle Gomez plays that clever/evil/hammy combination perfectly.
I’m really really happy to see that the Master is messing around with gender; it’s an idea that was established a while ago but had never actually affected any of the main characters. Maybe this will result in a lady Doctor someday?
Journey Blue (“Into the Dalek”) was pretty cool.
I would ABSOLUTELY ADORE a follow-up episode with Psi and Saibra from “Time Heist.” They’re my favorite minor characters from this new series. And speaking of that episode, Madame Karabraxos was pretty cool too. (And I love her name!) Oh, and one more thing – I loved the Teller!
I would’ve liked to see more interactions between the Doctor and Courtney… I think she would be an interesting companion.
RIGSY WAS COOL TOO. Loved his interactions with the Doctor. I enjoyed the Boneless as brand-new villains, too.
I have a soft spot for the episodes with children, so I loved Maebh in “In the Forest of the Night.”
I loved Vastra, Jenny, and Strax in “Deep Breath,” and considering their popularity with a large chunk of the fandom, I’m really surprised they appeared in only one episode. They acclimated us to the new Doctor wonderfully.
I liked the references to Classic Who and the Brigadier in “Death in Heaven,” but Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (his daughter) played such a small role in that episode that there’s just not much for me to say about her…
…but I do have stuff to say about Osgood, her assistant! I loved her! I’ll miss her! And I’ve also realized that if I want to dress as a Doctor Who character for Halloween, she is the perfect choice because she’s the only character I resemble even remotely.
Alas, alas, I don’t think series eight’s score will be released for another few months, making it a little difficult for me to accurately critique the music. When the time comes, I’ll probably end up writing another post about any pieces that I particularly love.
For now, I’ll just talk about the arrangements that some oh-so-helpful Whovians have (probably illegally) uploaded onto YouTube.
The new intro music is awesome – and better yet, the opening sequence was designed by a fan!
I LOVE the new Doctor’s theme – it’s always epic, but can switch between sadness and happiness and anger. Pretty cool. (It actually reminds me of this series six piece in terms of style.) Here’s another version that I love.
Unless I wasn’t paying attention, we didn’t hear Clara’s theme very much during this series, which is a shame because it’s so beautiful.
This Clara-and-Danny theme from “Dark Water” is gorgeous.
This suite for Missy and the Cybermen is great – and it includes echoes of the previous Master’s theme, which totally made me have a film-score-fangirl moment.
What pieces/leitmotifs did you notice and enjoy? Send me the links if you want; I’d love them!
I’m white, so this was something that didn’t even cross my mind when reading/watching/writing stories a few years ago. But thanks to some awesome blogs about diversity in fiction, I’ve started to notice more of that stuff.
For example, I’ve noticed that prior to this series there hadn’t been a single non-white companion since Martha Jones back in series three. Like, it’s weird when you watch a show and every single freaking person on it is white. (It’s weird that every single regeneration of a certain alien has been white.)
Now there’s Danny. I’m kind of iffy about calling him a companion, but he was a fairly major character, so that has to count for something, right? Other than that, I can’t think of any other major examples – just Courtney and Saibra, but they’re minor characters.
Well, the diversity here depends on what you do and don’t count. I’m iffy about how Missy’s gender thing was dealt with, but if you count that then approximately seventeen percent of episodes were LGBTQ+ inclusive. If you count only “Deep Breath,” it drops to about eight percent.
Either way, that’s a failing grade…
(Many thanks to Alex, Miriam, and Artgirl for their assistance with this section!)
You’ve probably heard of this before; it’s a checklist for all types of stories and is used to determine whether a story’s female characters are treated well. Basically, are they characters in their own right? Or do they exist just to be rescued, or to be plot devices, or to be eye candy?
To pass the test, a story has to meet all of the following criteria:
- It has to have at least two named women in it
- Who talk to each other
- About something other than a man
It’s really not that difficult to pass, or at least it shouldn’t be. How did Doctor Who‘s eighth series fare with the Bechdel Test?
NOT WELL. Only five episodes, or about forty-two percent, passed the test. The ones that passed are “Deep Breath,” “Into the Dalek,” “Time Heist,” “In the Forest of the Night,” and “Dark Water.” (And the last one only passes because in one scene Missy talks about Osgood about how she’s going to kill her. Yay for positive female relationships!) One episode, “Listen,” didn’t even have more than one female character; it featured only Clara.
I’ll sum up the results in classic Engie fashion: Blergh.
Observations About Series Eight Overall
Honestly, my thoughts about series eight are similar to those about Clara: There was nowhere to go but up. Yes, I enjoyed series eight more than series seven, but that’s nothing to be ecstatic about because series seven is one of my least favorites.
This series was rumored to be darker than those previous, and I think it more or less succeeded in that regard. Also, I liked the mix of settings – outer space versus Earth. I kind of wish there’d been more episodes set in the past, though.
If I had to rate this episode, I would give it three-point-five stars out of five total.
Thoughts About Series Nine
I think that if there was going to be a new Doctor in the next series, the writers would’ve announced it already, right? I mean, surely they would’ve said something about an upcoming regeneration in this year’s Christmas special, and they wouldn’t have Twelve regenerate in series nine’s first episode because that’s just weird timing.
So I think Peter Capaldi is staying for at least another series!
Jenna Coleman, on the other hand, is rumored to be leaving the show after the Christmas special. If this is true, then I AM EXCITED FOR A NEW COMPANION.
Finally, Michelle Gomez seems to have let slip that she’s returning for series nine, sooooo… I think we’ll see Missy at least one more time. But this is just a guess.
Do you agree with my observations? What was your opinion of series eight (and its characters!) as a whole? I’d love to know!