Doctor Who is back and a handful of us at Sub-Cultured are fans so with two episodes under our belts, we wanted to do a short general consensus. Is this better than Series 7? Are we on board for Capaldi? Where’s River (“dead” yes, but….)? Jen, Tushar, Sam and myself got together to discuss Series 8 thus far. The consensus? Cautiously if not generally optimistic.
MOFFAT & CAPALDI
General reactions to the past two episodes have been relatively positive, we already think it’s better than Series 7 thus far with, surprisingly enough only Jen (and not myself) being more of the outlier with a more frustrated and neither here nor there opinion on some things, most of her complaints having to do with Moffat as head writer and a desire to have a new person in charge for a fresher feel.
I agree with the sentiment to a degree, many of the “Moffat” problems are noticeable (and eye rolling) and the last two episodes had some pacing issues. I myself am not liking the new “control freak” characterization of Clara and being chastised by the Doctor and other characters for it which seemed to come out of nowhere. Unless I’ve been missing something.
To answer one of our initial questions, between all of us we’re completely on board with Capaldi as the Doctor and enjoy the new “non-flirty” dynamic established between The Doctor and Clara with his return to a more mature personality and appearance. Tushar in particular noted he’s glad there’s no romance there. The Doctor’s dislike of soldiers seems to be a plot theme for this series, particularly with Danny Pink eventually joining the cast. Clara’s sympathy for soldiers, particularly Journey Blue (who I’m not quite sure we’ve seen the last of considering Jenna may be leaving and that look Jenna gave her) and her obvious attraction to Danny may mean some interesting developments to come regarding this thematic thread.
We discussed that the young, virile and “flirty” Casanova swashbuckler and Peter Pan Doctors of 10 and 11, The Man Who Regrets and the Man Who Forgets, were overall needed after the War Doctor and 9. They were reactionary coping mechanisms after 9 who was still war grizzled. The Doctor’s current dislike of soldiers in this body could be seen as stemming from his dislike of himself as The War Doctor, who was indeed a soldier. Does the Doctor actually remember that he didn’t actually destroy Galifrey?
THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE
Sam additionally discussed that Capaldi was supposedly the originally the first choice for 11 and asserted they changed direction and went with Matt Smith instead and thus the script apparently changed, so we wonder if all the narrative elements tying to the series 2 episode “The Girl In The Fireplace” that are suddenly cropping up are them trying to backpedal to a narrative they wanted to tell long ago.
“I think the better question maybe why does Moffat use “The Girl in the Fireplace” to establish the doctor’s humanity and then wait for a Doctor and half to use another story of the Clockwork people to call into question the Doctor’s Humanity. Moffat rarely lets plot points go to waste.”
Jen voiced her need for more consistent narrative threading, had some of this appeared in smaller doses earlier it wouldn’t have seen so strange to come back to it after all this time. We’re cautiously optimistic about Missy.
Clara was a subject of conversation; most of us agree they’re finally treating and writing her a bit better, now that her mystery is more or less answered and as Sam pointed out, she’s gone from plot device to an actual character. She’s been given some quite meaty monologues and a more gutsy presence. Jen still does not care for her much and that hurts her perception of the show:
“I don’t like the show right now because I want more talk of Trenzalore and because I don’t like Clara at all. And I feel like the companion is at least 40% of the show, so if I can’t like the companion, I can’t LOVE the show.”
We all saw some lost opportunity with the second episode with the dalek considering a future version of Clara actually became in a way, a good dalek, which was more or less the last time Jen liked the character.
When it comes to Clara I voiced I am disappointed that some elements they were making seem important regarding her character; Clara’s birthdays, her Atlas book, possibly her mother’s death have all seemingly been dropped, but I am glad she’s finally developing.
I posited much of her character being a mess could be owed to the Victorian Clara originally being the one to actually go with 11 and them then changing their minds, killing her and shoehorning in an additional new “modern” Clara. That may explain some of Clara’s vague writing in the past but still doesn’t excuse the bad writing that’s also occurred.
We all, however really liked Clara being more outspoken and contentious with the Doctor; the lines “You’re not my boss you’re one of my hobbies” and the big slap from Clara in “Into The Dalek” was a resounding hit with us (as was Clara getting pelted with the newspaper in ‘Deep Breath”, which should have been horrible).
“I want her to stand up to him way more often. I like that she slapped him and I like that she’s not his companion.”
We thought the phone call to Clara in “Deep Breath” was a nice touch, and 11 expressing dismay over getting old only further cements his Peter Pan-ness and was a good buffer for the fan base, particularly young fans who indeed, like Clara, may be having a hard time adjusting to an older man on screen again.
It’s all agreed we want a sole young male companion without any romance or coupling with a female companion to justify his going to change things up, but overall it looks like a good ride after series 7’s rather clunky delivery. Clara and Danny clearly mirror Barbara and Ian, fitting for the 50th, all we need now is our Susan. What do you think? Have you been enjoying Capaldi thus far? Let us know!