Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Doctor Who: Season 8 in Retrospect, and Onward to Season 9!

And we're back! It has been awhile, hasn't it? Life got a bit busy over the summer, but really we've all just been killing time until the next season of Doctor Who. And on Saturday, it'll be here at last! I don't know about you, but I'm excited. :)

How has Season 8 held up since last year? Well, I re-watched it in preparation for Season 9, and you know what? It wasn't bad. It wasn't great, I'll give you that - we haven't had a truly great season since Seasons 4 and 5 - but Season 8, from purely an entertainment standpoint, is still enjoyable. 

Did some of my opinions change? Yes, and I'll tell you if they did and why:

Deep Breath - Exciting, if a bit unfocused
--You can't top some of the imagery in this episode - a dinosaur in London, the half-faced man - and the story does keep you intrigued, but the plot gets a little lost along the way. Still, it's a solid introductory episode for Twelve.

Into the Dalek - Decent
--Not bad, not great, it's stuck on the middle ground of good, with a few drawbacks in the plot and characters keeping it from being truly top quality.

Robot of Sherwood - Entertaining, but mostly forgettable
--Although I did enjoy this episode more the second time around, besides the Doctor's duel with a spoon I can't think of many parts of it that are really all that memorable.

Listen - A potential classic
--An unexpected dive into the Doctor's psyche. While a confusing plot stops this episode from becoming an instant classic like Blink, there's definite substance here, plus one of the creepiest monsters we've met (or haven't met, rather) on the show, at least for awhile.

Time Heist - Decent
--A clever idea that sometimes falls flat in its execution, but still an entertaining episode!

The Caretaker - Decent
--The Doctor as a janitor never gets old, and this episode holds welcome character development for Clara. More urgency within the plot and more focus on the villain would probably have made this stronger.

Kill the Moon - [Controversial]
--I can't help it, I still really love this episode. No, it wasn't as good the second time around, but I still love its message, and I feel like the people who dislike Kill the Moon are the ones trying to politicize it. Can't we just appreciate it for what it is - a piece of writing that shows us the Doctor still cares about life in all its beauty and wonder - and not argue about possible symbolism? However you take it, the visuals and the writing, especially in the second half, are pretty great.

Mummy on the Orient Express - A potential classic
--I'd just like to thank Jamie Mathieson for bringing his genius ideas to life in Season 8. This episode is wonderful, with all its callbacks to previous Doctors, and so is Flatline. I'm actually a bit upset that Mathieson is only writing one episode for Season 9, and it's a shared episode at that! But, if it's anywhere near as good as Mummy or Flatline, I look forward to it immensely!

Flatline - A potential classic
--A stunningly creative idea executed in genius fashion. This is what Doctor Who is all about!

In the Forest of the Night - Boring
--An episode where the Doctor really doesn't have any effect on anything that's happening, and Danny at his most annoying. Ugh.

Dark Water - A potential classic
The writing, acting, directing, even the music - all incredible! Suspenseful and thrilling, with great pacing and a chilling concept (especially for a kids' show!)!

Death in Heaven - Decent
--Okay, I'll admit it, this episode isn't as bad as I originally thought. I guess I was so surprised and delighted by the excellence of Dark Water that I amped myself up too much for the finale and ended up being disappointed. It's not a great finale, but it's not bad - the whole "love is a promise" thing still seems a little too convenient for the final plot resolution, but I'll take it.
 (On a side note, Missy killing everybody kind of made me wonder if, at least in this episode, she's supposed to be a representation of Steven Moffat. Particularly when she's holding on to the inside of the crashing plane and going "Nyoooow," I wonder if that's how Moffat's critics picture him running the show - crashing it straight into the ground with a crazed smile on his face, lol.)

Overall, I think Season 8 was good, it just wasn't a banner year for Who. There was good writing, but also some mediocre stuff, and I feel like a lot of people didn't think it balanced out in the end. 
As for new characters, Danny Pink was probably the weakest part of Season 8; it was like Season 5 if Rory hadn't been awesome. Clara just doesn't need a love interest; it makes things needlessly complicated, and things are already complicated - it's Doctor Who! Having said that, I think Missy was a great addition, with Michelle Gomez turning in a wonderfully insane performance, and I look forward to seeing her in Season 9!

Season 9:
So what have we got for Season 9? A lot of two-parters, apparently, which could go either way. Missy's back, Osgood is back (everyone called that one, I think!), and, to my surprise and delight, Rigsy is back! We actually have two female writers on staff - Catherine Tregenna and Sarah Dollard - which is the most New Who has had, with Helen Raynor being on staff for seasons 3 and 4. We've also got Hettie MacDonald, the director of Blink, back for two episodes! And, from the look of the trailer, I can't wait for the Doctor to wear sunglasses and play guitar, and I'm looking forward to finding out who Maisie Williams' character is!

Season 9 starts on Saturday! Allons-y!