So series eight of Doctor Who finished last Saturday and it was a great achievement on many levels. Not only did we get through our first series since the 50th Anniversary, we also have had our first series with Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi in the lead role. Doctor Who is a show about change; we got a few new writers into the mix and a new focus as our young energetic Doctor became a more mature and darker figure. So, how did Series Eight go? Well, it is time to review the series as I give my look at the series from the least to the most popular. (Be warned, this review of the series will be after I have re-watched the series and then reflected for some time over the series).
- In The Forest Of The Night by Frank Cottrell Boyce
So, this episode really just could not work. Frank Cottrell Boyce, the man behind many top novels and the writer of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, was given the chance to create a Doctor Who episode. What started as a great premise with a forest that covered the whole world, is left flat by lacking any menace and giving very little point to having the episode. The character development of Clara and Danny is fun and the sets look brilliant, but unfortunately that isn’t enough to make this episode good. A misfire and a lesson for Doctor Who series nine.
- Time Heist by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat
An episode which had brilliant supporting characters, but unfortunately the story is not anywhere near as strong. A heist is to be pulled by The Doctor and his gang at the Bank of Karabraxos, the story is a bit of a mishap at times and they just seem to be wandering around till the end. ‘The Teller’, the alien who can detect guilt is one of the best in Series Eight but the writing is a bit off in places and the sets do seem to almost repeat a bit too much in corridor and other scenes. Smart characters, just wish it went through the whole episode. Stephen Thompson needs to get a good balance like he did in ‘Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS’.
- Kill The Moon by Peter Harness
Originally I had a higher appreciation of this episode; once I saw it again I did see quite a few flaws. First was that the supporting cast are whittled down within minutes and we have the moon which is now a giant egg, which really doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. Hermione Norris does a top job though as guest star in the episode and Ellis George continuing her part as Courtney Woods is fun and brings a younger perspective to Doctor Who with this teenage companion. A mission to save the moon from destruction becomes a story about saving a life and also brings one of the biggest twists to the relationship of The Doctor and Clara.
- Deep Breath by Steven Moffat
Imagine Doctor Who came back with a dinosaur, a host of familiar faces and a return of a familiar monster (clockwork droid). Well, it looked promising in promotion and the post-regeneration Peter Capaldi instantly shines as an erratic and frightened man who is discovering his new self and gain his bearings in his new body. The extended run time of 76 minutes is a great way to show the new Doctor to the fullest, though the episode may have been a bit overstretched. A great starter for the series and a building block of what was to come.
- The Caretaker by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
Coal Hill School becomes the setting for this episode. The Doctor goes undercover to help save the planet from the fearsome robot Skovox Blitzer as it terrorises innocent people. Well, forget Skovox as he isn’t really that important. What we do get is a great bit of human interaction from Miss Oswald and Mr Pink as Danny finally learns about The Doctor, the couple continue to get close and we get introduced to Courtney Woods as she finds herself intrigued by the new caretaker. A good episode and a great lot of story fleshed out with the human cast. Don’t worry too much about Skovox as he only has a few moments where he really comes to scare.
- Mummy On The Orient Express by Jamie Mathieson
Probably the best new writer of Series Eight, Jamie Mathieson brings a mummy onto a space train and it works well. The resolution may seem a bit rushed, but the story is nicely explored and to see Frank Skinner act so well is a real pleasure. The idea of “one last trip” with Clara inspires The Doctor for them to go to The Orient Express in space. The Doctor is shown to be really interested over an enemy that only appears to those who will die, and it works. Also the cameo from Foxes as she performs ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen is a delight. The writing will hook you straight away.
- Robot Of Sherwood by Mark Gatiss
Mark Gatiss normally does do a good job of making something seem rather believable, even if it is total nonsense. That was achieved when he looked to make the legendary outlaw Robin Hood a real person who was made into legend over time. The story isn’t exactly gripping, but it is surely a lot of fun. The fight between Robin and The Doctor early in the episode is laugh-filled throughout and the showing off with the archery is rather cool. But, the idea that something fictional could have been real shows that Doctor Who can blur the lines between fairy tale and real life.
- Death In Heaven by Steven Moffat
The Master (or Mistress), Cybermen, Dan The Soldier Man stuck in the Nethersphere and Clara stuck in a room with a very unwanted guest. This finale started with a lot happening to the TARDIS gang and the world. The Doctor’s old gang U.N.I.T. come to the rescue of the Time Lord and help him with saving the world from a Cyberman invasion of the dead. The writing is on good form and Samuel Anderson earns my respect as the brilliant Danny Pink as he saves the day as the Cyberman who saves the world because of love (well, he died to save the world. His love for Clara was just too good and definitely one of the best relationships in Doctor Who history). Though the ending may seem a bit rushed and The Mistress shunted rather abruptly, you can’t deny old and new Who fans enjoyed the contents of this jam-packed episode.
- Into The Dalek by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat
The Daleks are given a new life in this episode. Phil Ford brings the menacing creatures into series eight with the help of showrunner Steven Moffat as The Doctor and Clara go into a Dalek and learn what makes them so evil. When The Doctor discovers ‘Rusty’, said to be a “Good Dalek”, he becomes intrigued and wants to know why it goes against its nature of hatred and killing. Being shrunk to miniature size, the gang go in the Dalek to learn why Rusty is not a killing machine like his fellow Daleks and what this could mean for the life long war between The Doctor and the crazed creatures from Skaro. A very promising premise and delivers in making The Daleks interesting and breathes new life into the classic monsters.
- Dark Water by Steven Moffat
Okay, the surprise was not a big surprise. We all knew Cybermen we’re coming back, but was we ready for how good this episode was going to be? Nope. The Doctor is let down by his best friend Clara as she tries to alter time to get back her recently-deceased love Danny. The Doctor, instead of abandoning Clara as she tried to betray him, he decides to help her get Danny and “go to hell” to find Danny and bring him back. Steven Moffat sets up the first two-parter since Series six to bring a very intense and rather gripping 45 minutes of Sci-Fi and Drama as The Doctor finds that he is about to come face to face with both Cybermen and his former friend Missy (who turns out to be The Master, now becoming a Time Lady). Probably one of the best cliffhanger’s in memory, Steven Moffat gives you many reasons to see what happens in the finale, including the exclusion of a ‘Next Time’ trailer…damn you Moffat, you can tease us!
- Flatline by Jamie Mathieson
I did mention earlier that Jamie Mathieson was probably the best new writer of the series, and this is the episode that really puts good to that claim. A story in which a force is making items become flat and killing people during the process, the ‘Boneless’ terrorize The Doctor and Clara and keep them both separate for a majority of the episode. The force makes the TARDIS shrink with The Doctor trapped inside and results in some hilarious moments with The Doctor literally being carried around in Clara’s handbag. Also this is one of the episodes where we see Clara act like The Doctor, armed with his sonic screwdriver and psychic paper, Clara begins to change her personality and acts in a way she believes will impress The Doctor. Ultimately, even though the day is saved, the actions from Miss Oswald do scare The Doctor but intrigues a certain Missy.
- Listen by Steven Moffat
So, what makes this the best episode of series eight? Because it is probably the one which many people could relate to. Many have had that fear of something living under the bed, but is there something really under there? Steven Moffat continues his best work by playing on everyday fears to create a unique and gripping story. This episode really defines Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and gives us our first chance to get to see new cast member Samuel Anderson in a full appearance and uses him greatly as both his teacher character Danny Pink and as time traveller and Danny’s descendent Orson Pink. We also get to find out a bit about The Doctor’s obsession with what is under the bed and is determined to find out what the hidden force really is, is it actually a force? Is it real? Also the writing is great, a few well-timed laughs fill the running time and the way the mystery plays out will make you ponder what is really happening and that you don’t know what is to come next. From an orphanage in the 1990’s to literally the end of the world, this story goes really far and the idea that trying to find something you can’t see and possibly doesn’t even exist is just as terrifying as any scary alien, maybe even more so.
So, do you feel the same? What was your favourite of series eight?
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove
P.S. Let’s see the first clip of the 2014 Christmas Special which will guest star the awesome Nick Frost!