What happens when a dangerous killing robotic alien is lurking in London’s East End and the Doctor decides to lead it to Coal Hill Secondary School? Oddly, not very much because most of the story is about Danny and Clara. Sure the Doctor sets some traps, that plans goes up in smoke, a new plan is made but most of the episode is spent on Clara not being able to cope with dating Danny and travelling with the Doctor.
Series 8 is a funny thing. I’ve been more entertained with this series than 6 and 7. I think the story structure has improved and I think, mostly, that the characters are more balanced. I still have issue with Clara and the way she treats Capaldi’s Doctor. He is too cool to be talked down to by her. But also, I find this series being less about spacey-wacey/Timey Wimey stuff and more focus on personal story. While I’ve enjoyed the majority of series 8 this episode in some ways bombed for me, mainly because it didn’t really progress anything. I know you’re thinking ‘how can you say that when Danny meets the Doctor in this episode?’ Well, that’s just it, he does but it’s no different to the way other boyfriends have met the Doctor. Also the Doctor’s nonchalantness about Orson Pink/Danny/Clara being connected seemed silly.
I felt like this could have been a really interesting episode, and one that could have explored the Danny story some more and the Doctor’s past at Coal Hill, so what happened?
It seems Moffat (and I’m going to blame him because a. he’s the show runner and b. he thinks he needs to slap his name as writer for each episode) just wants to tell personal stories. It’s not so much about the Doctor and his companion running about saving worlds and solving mysteries as it is about Clara trying to juggle her relationship with Danny and her partnership with the Doctor. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for these types of stories but this has become the dominating theme this series. With a new Doctor I want to see more of him, learn more about him, not keep the focus on Clara and her silly relationships.
I think the episode missed the mark when it came to the use of Coal Hill. Why hasn’t there been a single reference to the Doctor and Susan’s time there? Or the teachers who travelled with them?! It seems so logical to incorporate this but it’s completely left out. I’m not sure we needed another Matt Smith reference. The cameo in Deep Breath, though not needed, was nice. We now need to move on from the bowtie. Was this new guy with a bowtie there just to remind us of Smith?
At this point it seems a little silly. This is a tricky series. For as much fun and entertainment that’s being had, there are still glaring issues. I feel this is too much of Moffat trying to leave his stamp on the show.
I didn’t really like how rude and horrible Danny was to the Doctor when he first learnt the truth. It did also remind of Micky and his first interaction with the Doctor. When can we have a male companion who isn’t jealous of the Doctor? I feel like they missed the mark again. But also, it seems that your average joe who isn’t associated with the female companion is pretty okay with the Doctor/Tardis/time travel, but the boyfriends get weak in the knees and angry. It’s time to stop the gimmick and I’m disappointed Danny is just another angry boyfriend. And it has to be asked, what the hell was up with Danny doing that Power Ranger flip over the robot?!?! For all the grand things Doctor Who can get away with that pushed it too far for me and left me in stitches at how ridiculous it was.
Another thing I think this series is missing memorable musical themes. I picked up on the use of Sad Man With A Box theme, but I do miss the unique theme that both 10/11 did have. Musical can help give a show identity. It helped the Smith era, I think it’d do well here. Something that did catch my ear though was the mention of the Doctor and River having a fight! Capaldi is exactly the kind of Doctor I picture with Riversong when we first met her. If only her character wasn’t wasted in series 6/7.
I did enjoy the Courtney Wood roaming and stumbling upon the TARDIS. I like the way Capaldi interacts with kids. As much as I liked Smith, I think Capaldi interacts better and makes it slightly more believable. I also like that The Doctor took her in the TARDIS.
We get another glimpse at Missy and the promise land. We are also introduced to former The Thick of It star, Chris Addison. While the Promise Land has been quite ambiguous it’s implied here that it is what people believe to be ‘heaven’ or the ‘afterlife’. Who is Missy and what is she doing with this Afterlife? Guess we’ll find out later.
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