13 June 2016

Doctor Who series 8 (starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman)

Although I have enjoyed some of the ‘new’ Doctor Who series in recent years, I wasn’t too certain whether to continue acquiring and watching the DVDs after yet another time lord regeneration. I very much appreciated David Tennant as the tenth doctor, but never quite believed in Matt Smith as the eleventh. The story-lines, too, became more and more complex with a lot of fast action, and although I enjoyed series 7, it was stressful to watch, in places.

We then managed to see the TV specials ‘The Day of the Doctor’ and ‘The Time of the Doctor’ via someone’s i-player system, and although I thought them clever and well done, I was a little dubious about Peter Capaldi becoming the twelfth doctor. He was excellent as a Roman citizen in Season Four, but I couldn’t quite envisage him as The Doctor.

Still, those who watched it in the UK said that Season Eight was excellent, so once the DVDs were available as a boxed set at not too great a price, I put it on my wishlist, and was pleased to be given it for Christmas six months ago. We’ve just finished watching it, an episode or two at a time, with our son. And I’m a convert. Peter Capaldi is excellent as The Doctor.

Clara remains as the assistant in this series, and does so extremely well. There’s an ongoing story arc involving her working as a teacher and falling in love with another teacher, called Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson).  Danny and The Doctor don’t trust or like each other, and the tensions play out in many of the episodes giving a nicely human and ‘real world’ touch.

There’s also a story-arc concerning a mysterious woman called ‘Missy’, who seems to welcome people into an afterlife. This seemed to be an addendum to just a few episodes and I kept forgetting about it, until all was revealed in the finale…

While it’s hard to recall every episode in this series, watched sporadically over six months, I particularly liked the one called ‘Robot of Sherwood’, where The Doctor is determined to prove to Clara that Robin Hood never existed, only to find themselves caught up in the band of ‘Merry Men’ and an archery contest. I liked ‘The Mummy on the Orient Express’ too, a clear nod to Agatha Christie, with quite a spine-chilling storyline. My favourite, though, was the gentler ‘In the forest of the night’, which involves a party of school children, led by Danny Pink, and some huge foliage that starts to spring up all over London, causing chaos.

The finale, in two parts, involves some of the Doctor’s classic arch-enemies, but once again with a new twist and a storyline which was clearer and less rapid than some of the other season finales. I thought it was very well done, with a bittersweet ending as the Doctor and Clara each try to hide something from the other, leading - one presumes - to their not travelling together in future.

There are of course plot holes, inevitable in time travel stories, and some bizarre ideas that seem contradictory to some of what went before (a 'good' dalek? Cybermen with emotions...?) but all in all, we thought it an excellent season, one that I can envisage seeing again in a few years.

I’m looking forward very much to seeing Series Nine at some point!

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

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