‘Doctor Who’ has long been a show bigger than any one actor. With every new Doctor a fresh energy and new identity takeover. This transition and rebirth is not without its bumps and growing pains and Series 8, while a great introduction to a new Doctor, definitely suffers a few missteps.
Peter Capaldi portrays a different type of Doctor than forbearers Matt Smith and David Tennant, and all things considered this is a welcome change, though it does take a bit of time to grow used to an older curmudgeon Doctor rather than a young personable one.
While series 8 does have some fantastic monsters and storylines it falters in just how much time it spends attempting to introduce its new star. Previous Doctor incarnations have made their personality known in just a few episodes, but this new Doctor proves more complex. This complexity is part of his mystery, indeed even he admits to not knowing what kind of man he is, but at some point this no longer translates into good story. In the end, Capaldi shows that he is an interesting and enthralling Doctor, but it takes almost the entire season to get this impression.
In many ways one of the biggest problems with series 8 is how easily comparable it is with the Matt Smith years, a comparison that (at least for now) it is not well suited to win. This is not only because we just finished our ride with Smith behind the screwdriver (though this is part of it). There is a lot of carry over from the Smith years to Capaldi’s go. For starters, Clara Oswald became an established fixture with Matt Smith. Indeed, the whole storyline of her origin, as well as her role in the Doctor’s origin, were intricate plotlines throughout series 7. Now, in series 8 she is still around, but they seemingly attempt to reinvent her character a bit. Almost no reference is made to her year(s) as the impossible girl. Like the previous Doctor that story is over.
The best parts of series 8 (besides some awesome creatures and surprising returning baddies) are when we finally start to see Capaldi embrace and develop his own interpretation of the Doctor. A bit too much coddling is written into the first half of the season aimed at placating and reassuring fans of the previous Doctor. The transition from Tennant to Smith was almost a clean break (with a few exceptions like River Song). Most of the time it felt like an entirely new show. So far the series under the new Doctor has rarely felt like this, though the times when it does have come towards the end of the season so things are looking up.
First seasons with new Doctors are hard to objectively review. There is always that longing for a bit more of what came before and fear of the new. Series 8 does have more that a few great episodes destined to become classics, though it also has a couple of throwaways. All in all the direction series 8 went was positive, and it did accomplish the one thing that a good season of Doctor Who must do, leave you wanting more.
Bonus materials include:
EXCLUSIVE footage from London Post-Premiere Q&A with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat
EXCLUSIVE Doctor Who episode commentaries for Into the Dalek, Robot of Sherwood, The Caretaker, and Kill the Moon
Behind-the-Scenes featurettes (12 total)
Doctor Who Exclusive (4 total)
· Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord (special with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison)
· Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion (special with Fifth Doctor Peter Davison)
· Doctor Who: Earth Conquest (World Tour Documentary)
Tour of the TARDIS
Doctor Who: Deep Breath Live Pre-Show & After Who Live (hosted by comedian and Doctor Who superfan Chris Hardwick)
FOXES – “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Music video from Mummy on the Orient Express)