“Doctor Who” Series Eight Recap: Reviews + Thank You + Lists + Analyses

12 and clara 2Good 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!

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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!

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…)

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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.

  1. “Flatline”
  2. “Deep Breath”
  3. “In the Forest of the Night”
  4. “Time Heist”
  5. “Death in Heaven”
  6. “Into the Dalek”
  7. “Dark Water”
  8. “Robot of Sherwood”
  9. “Listen”
  10. “Mummy on the Orient Express”
  11. “Kill the Moon”
  12. “The Caretaker”

What were your favorite/least favorite episodes from this series?

-~-

Time for fun analyses and stuff!

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

The-Doctor-Peter-Capaldi-and-the-Half-Face-Man-Peter-Ferdinando-in-DEEP-BREATH

The Doctor

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!

Clara Oswald

[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.

Danny Pink

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.

Missy

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?

Supporting Characters

New characters

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.”

Returning characters

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.

Music

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.

I love this suite from “Mummy on the Orient Express.”

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!

deep breath1Diversity

Race

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.

LGBTQ+

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…

Bechdel Test

(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:

  1. It has to have at least two named women in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. 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.

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Do you agree with my observations? What was your opinion of series eight (and its characters!) as a whole? I’d love to know!

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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8 Responses to “Doctor Who” Series Eight Recap: Reviews + Thank You + Lists + Analyses

  1. matttblack42 says:

    You’re welcome.
    My ranking of the episodes are a bit different:

    —Listen. (I don’t care what anyone says!)
    —Mummy on the Orient Express* (solely for “Don’t Stop Me Now.”)
    —Flatline. (Because tiny tardis.)
    —Into the Dalek. (“Top layer if you want to say a few words.”)
    —Deep Breath. (This episode actually made Clara somewhat interesting.)
    —Dark Water. (Missy!)
    —Time Heist. (It was fun.)
    —Robots of Sherwood. (It was also fun.)
    —Kill the Moon. (Terrible in some parts, great in others.)
    —The Caretaker. (Danny’s somersault flip.)
    —In the Forest of the Night. (I. . . strongly disliked this one.)

    Still not sure about the finale. It would probably be in the middle somewhere.

    It’s weird, Listen and Flatline both completely fail the Bechdel test, yet I think they might’ve been Clara’s best episodes, character-wise. (Also, doesn’t Mummy on the Orient Express pass the Bechdel test? I think Clara and the other woman have a scene where they just talk about her grandmother, but then they talk about the Doctor for a little while so I’m not sure if that counts.)

    Overall, I’d say this season was a definite improvement over season seven, where every episode felt like a rough draft, but that’s not saying much. Like every season there were two to three amazing episodes, two to three terrible episodes, and a bunch of episodes in between.

    *My only problem with MotOE was the fact that there wasn’t a Clara-less episode before it, that just showed the Doctor acting on his own for a bit.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Oh gosh, I’d forgotten about Danny’s somersault flip. Four for you, Danny.

      No, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t… there was even a bit of dialogue where Clara says something like, “We’re trapped in here with a killer mummy, and all we can talk about is a man?!”

      Pffft, “rough drafts” is a good way to describe it.

      I know, right? I wouldn’t have disliked “Mummy on the Orient Express” as much if Clara’s break from traveling were actually written in a way that made sense.

  2. moosha23 says:

    Hmm…my favourite episode was probably Time Heist! I love those fun Doctor Who episodes with new characters and a detective-like plot! The Bechdel Test…it’s a wonder how so many stories DO fail it – t’s a shambles!
    I don’t really mind Clara leaving, it’s time for a new companion, as a character she’s served her purpose…I just, I don’t know…Clara was cool as a character in the beginning when we didn’t know much about her, but they aren’t doing anything with her anymore! It’s frustrating!
    I’m made peace with Capaldi as a Doctor…he may be mean and rude but he’s more…adoptive of the darker side of being the Doctor, and it would be awesome if series nine explored that. Also I’m hoping for a lot more scary and plot-related action in the next series, this one had too many episodes that didn’t help move the plot on in my opinion.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I loved “Time Heist,” it’s definitely an episode that I’d watch again!

      I know, right? A *LOT* of stories don’t pass it… and then there’s the tongue-in-cheek Reverse Bechdel Test, which asks if guys ever talk to each other about anything other than a woman – Maleficent failed that! 😛

      Yeah, and she’s been on the show for quite a while anyway. I mean, I loved Martha and Donna, but I didn’t mind at all when they left after one series each – change is nice, and I love to see new faces in the TARDIS. So I’m not a huge fan of companions staying on past one-ish series… which probably explains why I’m not such a fan of series-two!Rose.

      Agreed. This series had a lot of fun episodes, but most of them didn’t lead towards any sort of cohesive bigger plot.

  3. themagicviolinist says:

    I had so. much. fun reading the reviews. 🙂 And writing ours together, of course. I hope you do this again next season!

    That’s really disappointing about the Bechdel test. And the LGBTQ+ test. And the race test. Basically, DW needs to boost their diversity numbers. I did hear rumors that the 13th Doctor will be a woman. 🙂 And if so, YAY.

    Your episode ranking list is very similar to mine! 🙂 Although I did like “Listen” a whole lot more than you did.

    MISSY!!! That is all.

    • nevillegirl says:

      DW’s diversity sucks. 😦
      Hmm, I would LOVE to see a lady Doctor, but not one written by Moffat – he’s terrible at writing female characters, and the more major his characters the bigger their problems. So if he’d step down from showrunner, I’d be happy to have a female Doctor. Otherwise… meh, not really.

      I can’t wait to see Missy in series 9!

  4. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Fall 2014 – Movies, TV Shows, Senior Year, And An Awful Lot Of Reading | Musings From Neville's Navel

  5. Pingback: First Reactions To The “Doctor Who” Series Nine TV Trailer | Musings From Neville's Navel

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