Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Great Gallifreyan Ass-Pull

I finally got around to watching the entire season of Doctor Who.

If you're not a Doctor Who fan, this post won't make much sense to you. If you are and you haven't watched it yet, there's spoilers ahead.

I won't go into the details of the season, although I'd like to make a few points about it.
  •  Peter Capaldi is awesome as the Doctor. He chews the scenery, his personality is fine-tuned enough that he's his own Doctor, and his interactions with everyone are exactly what you'd expect. He was a good choice and exactly what the storyline, fan base, and writers need.
  • I've never been sold on Jenna Coleman as companion. Yeah, yeah, every single companion is horrible because they're not exactly like the previous companion, but usually after a few episodes they sort it out. This never happened with Clara Oswald. She's...merely okay. She never seemed to have much of a personality, and I always kind of resented that the end of Matt Smith's tenure had her do so many important things even though she had been a companion for such a short time. (She's very much like Martha Jones to be--serviceable, but her character is flat.) There was no emotional payoff with her, and when she glided in full season with Capaldi her romantic subplot just seemed awkward. I'm glad she's gone.
  • The scripts this season were downright dreadful. As in, if my goal was to turn new people on to the wonder that is Doctor Who, I would never tell them to watch anything from this season first. Some stories were fine, but over half were just downright...just bad. So, so bad. This is the key reason why I just now got around to watching them--my wife and I just had to stop halfway through the season.
  • Building from that. Steven Moffat has to go. I don't know if he's spending too much time on Sherlock or whatever it is that he's doing, but the writing (and, to be honest, the "arc storyline" of this season) was just horrifyingly bad.
  • A special mention has to go to Kill The Moon, which is hands-down one of the worst things I've ever actively watched. A plot that makes no sense--even by Doctor Who standards--a clumsy allegory that even the dim-wittedliest Dalek couldn't miss, and horrible dialogue all coalesced into a train wreck of an episode. My wife and I actually stopped watching for a while, because it was so embarrassingly bad. It's frustrating to get excited by a series such as Doctor Who just to be disappointed week after week. 
To be fair, you have to suspend a little bit of disbelief with Doctor Who. The show has never shied away from clumsy plots, nonsensical stories, or any sort of continuity. But the sharp writing, brilliant acting, and general adherence to the mythos has always held it together. You could stomach the blatant symbolism, the artificially introduced deus ex machina, and the narmy plots because at the end of the season it all made some sort of sense, and at the very least the ride was fun along the way. (This happened a lot during the Pond years--yeah, a lot of stuff didn't make sense, but the chemistry between Rory, Amy, and the Doctor made it just plain fun to watch even if the plot derailed on itself five minutes in.) Season eight was not a fun ride; in fact, I couldn't wait to get off.

Hopefully a new companion, a decent Christmas special, and a new showrunner? (fingers crossed) will help for future seasons.

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