Trailer courtesy of Gallifreyforever97
Into The Dalek
Robot Of Sherwood
Kill The Moon
Mummy On The Orient Express
In The Forest Of The Night
Death In Heaven
Following Matt Smith’s departure on the show, the first season with new Doctor, Peter Capaldi is a disjointed, confusing mix of the good and the bad that never quite gets going and ultimately ends up failing to impress. The episodes feel very average in comparison to the excellence fans have grown accustomed to in past seasons and despite a few stand out episodes, Capaldi’s first season is frustratingly disappointing despite a decent performance from him.
We start with extended episode “Deep Breath” where the Doctor appears out of the belly of a dinosaur he’s inadvertently teleported to Victorian London. Having to wrestle with himself, a new threat in this time period, a dinosaur and returning companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) who’s distrust following his regeneration reaches tipping point, there’s a lot going on. Despite the full on slapstick comedy not seen since the show first returned in 2005, its actually not a bad episode and one of the few stand outs alongside “Listen”, “Time Heist”, “Mummy On The Orient Express” and the two part season finale.
Having received mixed reaction from fans, Peter Capaldi feels like a medley of Classic Who iterations. A little bit of Jon Pertwee, the madness of Tom Baker and the short fuse of Colin Baker, Capaldi feels like he could be an interesting Doctor but the writing and direction he’s given constricts his ability to really showcase his talent in favour of companion Clara. The underdeveloped romance with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) feels forced and unnatural and they dominate the screen for vast periods of the season which sours what should be a triumphant return to a Doctor more akin to that of Classic Who but never given the time to show it.
The biggest problem is how directionless it all feels. The episodes feel like a disjointed mix that don’t fit together in a coherent way and the tone and pacing varies wildly. Ironically, its the episodes where he is given the chance to be the Doctor without Clara overshadowing him that the season feels like true Doctor Who. “Mummy On The Orient Express” is a particular favourite, not just for its originality but also for excellent writing and a clever script.
In contrast we get episodes like “The Caretaker” and “Kill The Moon” which are arguably some of the worst in recent memory and do nothing to help the show’s credibility. Its a shame because there’s potential here for a triumphant return to form for the Doctor but it feels in desperate need of a new show-runner to inject some creativity and passion into the show that’s been sorely lacking since Season 6.
On the subject of creativity, the one positive to take from this season is the excellent Missy (Michelle Gomez) who effortlessly steals the screen and delivers a flawless performance throughout the finale and one which hopefully continues into next Season. Of course, to divulge her role would be to reveal major spoilers but suffice to say shes an interesting inclusion in the show and a daring change for the show that deserves props for trying something completely different from the norm. These sort of gambles dont always pay off but in this example, it absolutely works.
Overall then, Season 8 of Doctor Who is much like Capaldi’s transformation into The Doctor. Its disjointed and can’t quite make its mind up what sort of direction it wants to go. Clara’s overshadowing of the Doctor and bland, directionless stories sour the overall experience but when given the chance Peter Capaldi shines. He shows a ruthless, domineering confidence not seen since the Classic Who days but these moments are few and far between in favour of an underdeveloped romance and mediocre episodes that do nothing to help the show. With only a handful of good episodes, Doctor Who feels like a show devoid of ideas and creativity, in desperate need of some direction. Is it time for Stephen Moffat to move on and hand the reigns to someone else? With Season 9 primed for next year, we’ll just have to wait and see if he can return to form but based on this showing, it doesn’t look good.
Verdict - 5.5/10