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DOCTOR WHO Season 8 So Far….Newbie Edition

 

fo8k7bMINJKCqDdpy3cUfR5szmCmES1C-S8Qyp2Lo-PoLctz2N9jSCznquppKPsiAm0gJw=w1264If I could have just one custom t-shirt made saying something about Doctor Who, it would say in big bold letters “DOCTOR WHO SIMPLETON ON BOARD”.  So, there it is, the red flag to set up your, the reader’s, perspective, on how to approach this overview of the new season as it stands so far.  Because it is from a new watcher of Doctor Who, someone who has daughters who love Doctor Who (although I do think they are divided on whether or not to like this, still newly birthed, regeneration), and is definitely a fan on the fringe.  I am stepping my toe into the cold waters, still shivering at the thought of taking on such a body of work.  I can, however, tell you what I know.  I have seen probably a few episodes each of every Doctor since 2005.  I would watch as a child, when bored and curious, the Fourth Doctor’s seemingly ever-ongoing escapades on PBS.  I messed around with watching the newer Doctors, and then I watched the last few recent specials, when I finally declared that there was no way I could “get” Doctor Who unless I started at the beginning.  So that is what I embarked on doing this summer.  Of course, as any of you more seasoned fans know, trying to do that is not only daunting, but a seemingly impossible task as you get into having to find audio versions of some lost episodes, and Netflix nor Hulu nor any other internet outlet is kind enough to be a single well for watching past episodes.  Bluntly, it is an absolute mess.  Not to be discouraged, however, I did start watching Season 1, the William Hartnell era, and for some reason of which I am trying to put together, after a few episodes, that old man really started to get me hooked.  There is an unkempt attitude in his delivery, sometimes as if you are catching him talking as if you have just entered a room.  And what they did with the sets of the time period, the black and white, and the stories, really intrigued me.  I could like this version for sure.  Originally, I was told to start with the new series from 2005, but Eccelston always seemed unlikable, then Tennant seemed better, and Smith kind of got on my nerves.  But everything started to gel after taking things on from the top.  And I couldn’t have had better timing, as it seems things are starting to come full circle for The Doctor.  Which is now what I will discuss during this general review of, not only the first, but the first four episodes of BBC’s Doctor Who Series 8.

Doctor Who Series 8The first episode of season 8, for the most part, seemed off-putting.  Perhaps “Deep Breath” was not just a title, but a suggestion for everyone to take as we were about to experience something new for the first time, and it was going to require some patience.  Case in point, it was not the new Doctor which troubled me, but the story around him and my dislike of the third tier characters.  The previous new series episodes I always watched seemed more spectacle than intellectual.  But due note that since I am watching from the beginning, as I watch this new season, I am sure what little I witnessed to garnish my past opinions of these other next generation Doctors will be transformed beyond the observances I gleaned off the surface in my previous viewings.  But my misgivings seems to have coalesced with this first episode.  The Tennant and Smith era were extremely evident of these traits, but only in the scenes the Doctor was not in.  There seems to rest  the fusion of many of the Doctors within actor Peter Capaldi, but in a strong sense, it seemed to me, a strongest relation to the Ninth Doctor and in another sense, the First, as this time lord is just as conflicted and actually out-of-time, so to speak.  So as his scenes unfold during the episode, we are also regenerated as the audience and taken away from the tone of the last few seasons.  The additional characters in this episode seem to be skins of the previous few “younger” Doctors that we are having to shed off in order to take on this new life as a viewer of Season (Series, for the true fans) 8.  But I will not dwell on the negatives as I feel there were plenty, down to the SyFy channel feel of the plot, but it is this Twelfth Doctor, and even the companion Clara, whose struggles had me looking forward to more.  And, of course, the mystery of Missy and The Promised Land, which, no doubt, are the threads to the greater spindle that is the over-arcing plot of this season or perhaps this Doctor.

Doctor Who Series 8The second episode, “Into The Dalek,” seems to have given me exactly this refreshing feeling I was hoping to fall into, and something more pure science-fiction.  Gone are the quirkiness and sureness, and the timey-whimey. I feel we are watching the Doctor peel back the layers of his own skin.  I know this is not a first and I have already been told that there are so many references to previous Doctors and episodes just in these first two new ones of Season 8, that one would expect to get whiplash from all the call backs.  But that may be where I have an advantage since this is mostly all new to me.  I can see things from a fresh perspective, where other, especially complainers of this new era, may be weighed down too much from the past.  Of course, there is no denying the similarities and cross-overs from Hartnell’s second episode to Capaldi’s own second.  It may actually mean, in that original episode, something may have been enlightened in the Daleks and they may have been seeking radiation in order to try to free themselves way back then as it is absolutely observed as helpful to them within this past episode.  With the turning of Rusty, the potential for more new story lines that transcend the old with regular characters is very palpable.  I am looking forward to more connections and some different directions for these main enemies.  Some may sob at the missing underlying love story, which is assuredly put to rest with this new episode.  That plotline was an aspect that always made me weary of watching modern episodes, but I feel romance will come back around, although it will not be centered around The Doctor, just as it should not be.  We have many other places to go with this Doctor.  Compared to some more recent Doctors, who seemed unscathed as heroes no matter their decisions and mannerisms during each of their quests, there are not only consequences to be had with Capaldi’s Doctor, but a penance for the transgressions of his past and how those things have left him as a “man,” good or bad.

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Compared to the other episodes I have seen before, which may have a lot of exposition and character development, as well as thrown in action, what I have seen so far of the Capaldi era is truly deeper storytelling. There are things going on within each of the characters, especially The Doctor, that are just right below the surface.  I do believe this season is going to be one for deep thought.  Perhaps that means the “fun” will be lost for some fans, but I do not know enough to confirm that could be the case or not.  Instead of fans going on about this part and that part and “I loved it when” moments, I feel by the end of this season there is going to be a lot of philosophical discussions taking the place of those other conversations, much like the ones fans were having when the show was first put on the air.   Not that there have not been tons of those kinds of conversations every day between fans, but I think these episodes do not simply just leave room for it, but demand it.  And i think this change is what is going to turn some fans of the previous seasons away, as that kind of approach to a character and storytelling are undoubtedly quite different.  Most of us do not like to be told to think and demanded to consider things beyond what is easily observed.  This Twelfth Doctor is wanting us to look into ourselves even as we look more into him. Well, in my novice opinion anyway.

Doctor Who Series 8 (episode 3)

The younger fans who have grown to love the last several years of Doctor Who adventures may definitely have a hard time with the melancholy and type of introspection offered from this Doctor.  And, again, I don’t really know what I’m talking about.  But I also think this is a time of convergence, as I see Capaldi being more akin to the Doctors of the original runs, thus bringing the texture, human introspection, and pure science fiction aspects fully back into this new era.  Less Buck Rogers and more like Barnaby Jones in space, and Scottish. Of course, we can not have that all the time.  The third episode, “Robots of Sherwood” seemed as classic a tale spanning all eras of The Doctor and one I very much enjoyed.  (And the first episode of which I feel my daughters started to click with Capaldi.) The writing was not on par with the previous episode, and was utterly predictable, but I felt I could put any Doctor in Capaldi’s place at that point and it would work.  I think this episode needed that, to get the long time fans to feel that connection.  I think we will start diving more into this regeneration of The Doctor with episode 4, entitled “Listen.”  I think it has the potential to be one of the greatest modern episodes and, if it is not, will perhaps be the jumping off point for anyone who may still be on the fence about Peter Capaldi as well as producer Steven Moffat’s continuing oversight.

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With “Listen,” I think it is such a polarizing episode, that I almost feel Moffat is trying to shake off any Doctor Who fans who have just been along for the ride and is wanting only the truest of true fans to stick around.  I know that does not sound comforting but I think Moffat is taking the show into uncharted territory which is proved completely here, and many recent watchers may be really clinging to The Doctor of the past few years.  This is a Doctor more akin to the first episodes and a Doctor who is exploring his roots even more than that.  How far back into the Doctor’s psyche we are going seems to be reflected in the steampunk set design of the revamped Tardis, and the collegiate, ever scribbling, nature of Capaldi’s regeneration.  To look into ones self is an uncomfortable thing, and I think we, as the audience, are going to experience that journey whether we like it or not.  And I think there are some fans who are rebelling against this type of adventure, proclaiming that Moffat has really lost it and the show is, in essence, jumping the shark.  When, possibly, it just requires more thought, more patience, and more reserve than any previous seasons of Doctor Who, although I feel we are going back and getting a glimpse at the underpinning of one of the greatest heroes of the television broadcast era.

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New characters show their faces for Season 8 – Mr. Danny Pink, Ms. Delphox, and the mysterious “Missy”

Doctor Who is definitely going back to its roots and even further back.  If you are probably not that much a fan of the original run – everything before 2005 – then you may be struggling with Season 8 so far.  I think it was time for the show to surpass the realm of just being intriguing and entertaining, to becoming legendary.  And, if I can be so bold as to form an opinion at this point, this is exactly where the show is now heading.  I may have come to the party very late, but I think I have landed in just the right time and space for someone with my likes.  I hope everyone keeps watching, and if you are feeling things are a little off right now, keep watching and sticking with it, as I believe greatness is on its way.  And if you feel I have no idea of these things, because of all the wonderful things I have missed from past episodes, and my thoughts fall flat because I am, at best, a baffoon, completely uneducated on the subject, please forgive me.  I am a new “companion” and The Doctor is still strange to me.  I will get around to watching earlier versions, and will eventually become enlightened by all forms of The Doctor, but as of this moment, I think I am really going to like him, all of them of him.

What do you think?  Ready to set me straight?  How are you enjoying this new Doctor and this season of Doctor Who?  Which episode has been your favorite so far?  What are your predictions for where this season is heading?  I can not wait to hear from other fans, as it is through you how I will truly fully experience the phenomenon that is The Doctor.

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