Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doctor Who: Deep Breath


I've only been a fan of BBC's "Doctor Who" for a little more than eighteen months.

But when I get into a show, I dive in.

So, in the last eighteen months, I've watched all of the modern episodes, and have viewed at least a few episodes from most of the previous doctors (I'm sadly lacking with Number Eight...I need to rectify that one.)

Being up to speed now, I was eagerly anticipating the new season, with the new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. I'd heard a lot of whining from some "oh he's too old to play the doctor." Oh, really? Was William Hartnell?

The Doctor and Clara. Photo from BBC America

I was blown away by the episode which aired on 8/23, which, ironically, was my wedding anniversary and I wasn't supposed to be able to watch it that night. But friends with football tickets made seeing it Saturday a possibility since my husband was gone! :)

Let's get one thing out of the way first, then I'll go into my thoughts on the episode itself. Since I started watching Doctor Who especially, but also coupled with Sherlock (because they are presently produced and written by the same team--Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss), I've mentioned to several writer friends that I'd love to kidnap the pair and just pick their brains. (No worries, BBC, if you're reading this. I'm not planning a trip to Britain any time soon, and this is mostly tongue-in-cheek. Mostly. Not to say if I wasn't in Cardiff or London and saw either of them, I wouldn't stop and try to pick their brains!) Right now, both writers--especially for Sherlock, a little less for Doctor Who--make me want to get into writing screenplays. Perhaps one day.

Cinematically, I have to say, I'm less impressed by Doctor Who than I am Longmire. (If you missed my gushing on the season finale of Longmire, see the post that precedes this one.) I'm sure it's because it's a science fiction show, and they're mostly shooting on a soundstage, and there's a lot of CGI that needs to be added in. But still. It would be nice to see a bit more flare in how the show is put together. That would be my only real criticism. I've never watched an episode of Doctor Who yet where I've just marveled at how the photography is used to tell the story--unlike Longmire, where it's a week-in-and-week-out thing. Apples. Oranges.

River Song
Insert River Song saying in her super-sexy voice, "Spoilers."

Story-wise, I felt the plot was sound. Rarely have I felt a Steven Moffatt script was off (although 7.2 felt off for most of the season. It mostly came together by the end of the season, but 7.2 was disjointed overall. I'm hoping season 8 is different.) The dinosaur being set ablaze, I've seen several people say that was gratuitous. However, after re-watching the episode last night, it played a role. It drew the Doctor and Clara into the main part of the story. I did notice, as some others had noted, that the episode seemed like a bit of a mashup of three older episodes (which ones, I'm not certain of the names, and don't have the time to look them up.) For the most part, I'd agree, although this definitely had its own feel to it. And I think Moffatt was aware of it, and probably had a plan for it to feel vaguely familiar because he was introducing a new Doctor.

 And let's get to the new doctor. As I said above, I was eagerly anticipating Capaldi. I knew he was a fan of the show (I've seen on the internet where he wrote a fan letter to the show at the age of 6! So you know he's got the show's best interest at heart.) And while Matt Smith is my doctor, and David Tennant is just a sliver behind him, I have been curious how they'd take the story in a new direction, especially after "The Day of the Doctor," the show's 50th anniversary special which aired last November. Keep in mind: I'm a writer. As a writer, I'm curious about these things. I watch TV as much for relaxation as I do for learning about my craft. 

As a fan of the show, I was simply delighted at the number of Easter eggs I caught in the episode. I'm sure it was meant to be like that, and there are probably more that I missed, but some of my more memorable ones were these:
  • The face/mirror in the alley scene. Why this face? I've seen this face before. This is probably a reference to the Tennant-era episode "Fires of Pompeii", which Capaldi guested in (which, ironically, Karen Gillan, also was a guest in. If you don't know who Karen is, she was Amy Pond for the first 2.5 seasons of Matt Smith's Doctor, and is currently playing one of the bad guys in "Guardians of the Galaxy.")
  • The scarf question in the same scene as above. The line was something like, "Do you have a scarf? Maybe a long one? No, we're avoiding those." Obvious reference to, I believe, the 4th Doctor. (If I'm wrong, please don't hate me--just let me know in the comments and I'll fix.)
  • "Some days I wish you were Amy." If you're a Whovian, this one doesn't need any explanation. I miss the Ponds, too. 
  • The eyebrows. They're angry eyebrows. They may cede and start their own state of Eyebrows. Not so much an Easter egg, as a something many Whovians have been going on about since Capaldi was announced as the new doctor last year. 
  • Clara at the end, coming into the revamped TARDIS. "You've redecorated. I don't like it." Nearly shot me to tears because Tennant said the same thing to Smith in "The Day of the Doctor" and I think it's a tradition in some of the older episodes as well with multiple doctors. And she said it almost the exact same way that Tennant did! 
Now I need to gush about the MATT SMITH SCENE.

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor in the "Broom Scene"
Photo from BBC America
This is the scene that pushed me over the edge, the one where, if I wasn't crying already, I was by about the mid-point in this scene. I've said it already in a couple places within my friends circles, but I think we as an audience needed the Matt Smith scene. We needed to have one last chance to say goodbye to the Raggedy Man, needed to hear his voice one last time, and know, along with Clara, that this was going to be okay. I almost wonder if this was thrown in for the Capaldi-skeptics, and even though it wasn't essential to the story, I think it helped get us over the hump of believability. Of course, Clara kind of needed to hear it, too. I think she was about ready to bolt on us. And even though I have not been a fan of Clara, she really shined in this episode, and held her own.

Last thoughts, I promise. This is getting lengthy.

 I'm a fan of a good story. Give me solid writing, and, in TV, solid acting, and I'm pretty much hooked. That being said, 7.2 almost lost me because I felt it floundered around a bit. At the time, I needed it, though, because I was far from home, and my son was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Keep in mind, I love Matt Smith's incarnation as the Doctor.

But even though I was sad to see Matt go, I was eager to see what Capaldi would do. While I think not everyone is as sold as I am, I felt he was refreshing, and I'm looking forward to a darker side of the Doctor.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some squeeeing to go do. ;)

Until next time...


Reminder! My debut novella, "Emergence" is out now! You can find it at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for the low-low price of $2.99US. If you like mysteries, suspense, or superhero stories, you will enjoy "Emergence"! Go download your copy today.


Adam Collings said...

Good overview.

There isn't a lot of Doctor 8 to see. He only had two appearances. If you haven't already, you really need to see 'Night of the Doctor'. It's a free short on youTube. Not only did it give us a proper chance to say farewell to Doctor 8 (which we never got after his failed movie) but it is also simply some of the best Doctor Who ever made. There is a lot of depth packed into 7 minutes.

Liberty Speidel said...

Adam, I did see the short back when the 50th was getting ready to come out! It was really, really good, and really set the stage for the 50th. :)

I think it's official, I'm a certified Whovian. ;)

Nicohle Christopherson said...

Goodness! It's lovely to see another Whovian! I can't wait to see what happens next, but your gushing certainly helped me get excited about the series once again!

Do you enjoy any other series? Supernatural? Homestuck? Sherlock?

Liberty Speidel said...

Hi, Nicohle, and welcome to the blog! Sorry I haven't gotten back to your comment until today. :) I'm a bit eclectic in my fandoms, and while I haven't gotten into Supernatural or Homestruck, I'm a HUGE Sherlock fan. I'm waiting with baited breath to know whether there will be a 4th series. :)

I hope to be blogging about Doctor Who and Marvel's Agents of Shield as I'm able, and maybe a smattering of Elementary, any of the NCIS franchises, Bones, and maybe (MAYBE) Castle. My time is limited, and if I blogged about ALL my favorites, I'd have no time to write my novels! :D

Thanks again for stopping by!

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