Doc­tor Who Sea­son Eight

The Year Of Liv­ing Dan­ger­ously

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

2014 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD Showrun­ner: Steven Mof­fat Cast: Peter Ca­paldi, Jenna Cole­man, Sa­muel An­der­son, Michelle Gomez, Jemma Red­grave

If one word

de­fines new Who’s eighth se­ries, it’s “risky”. In many ways this is the most thrilling, un­ex­pected year of TARDIS travel for quite some time, but noth­ing in it is easy, start­ing with the Doc­tor him­self. Peter Ca­paldi’s “grey- haired stick- in­sect” is a far more bristling, aus­tere character than Matt Smith’s bouncy Time Lord. He’s Gre­gory House meets Mal­colm Tucker, with a dash of Johnny Rot­ten. When he smiles, he’s terrifying.

That you never know what this Doc­tor will do, that the words “timey- wimey” never pass his lips, that he can be both bru­tal and ten­der within the same scene are all huge pos­i­tives. And yet, his con­stant spik­i­ness oc­ca­sion­ally grates. You yearn for him to give Clara an eas­ier time. Jenna Cole­man, in­ci­den­tally, is a rev­e­la­tion. Freed from the “im­pos­si­ble girl” bag­gage, Clara fi­nally feels alive and real. It’s her story this year.

The episodes them­selves are mostly top tier, with only the daft “In The For­est Of The Night” and the de­ranged fi­nal act of “Kill The Moon” let­ting the side down. “Into The Dalek” wor­ries at the Doc­tor’s moral­ity in a way that’s more Heart Of Dark­ness ( Heart Of Dalek­ness?) than the pitched Die Hard In A Dalek. “Dark Wa­ter” probes at the after­life and its rev­e­la­tions are chill­ing. The sea­son it­self ends not on tri­umph, but with a se­ries of lies.

If that all sounds aw­fully dour, then we should note that the sea­son also con­tains the old- school ad­ven­ture of “Mummy On The Ori­ent Ex­press” and, in “Flat­line”, the clos­est Who has come to a new “Blink”. Then there’s “Lis­ten”. Mof­fat’s best script since “The Eleventh Hour”, it man­ages to be creepy and mov­ing while be­ing, es­sen­tially, about a kid in a blan­ket and a knack­ered door. Se­ries eight is

He can be both bru­tal and ten­der in the same scene

not with­out its wob­bles, but as an at­tempt to in­ject sur­prise and dan­ger back into Who, it’s a huge suc­cess.

Ex­tras: The set con­tains the com­plete run of Doc­tor Who Ex­tra. More in­ter­est­ing is Earth Con­quest, a 45- minute fea­ture nom­i­nally about a cast pro­mo­tional tour but more fo­cused on the cre­ativ­ity of fans. “Stop apol­o­gis­ing for be­ing bril­liant,” Ca­paldi says to an artist at one point. He re­ally is the Doc­tor, isn’t he?

The Ul­ti­mate Time Lord and The Ul­ti­mate Com­pan­ion are two lengthy pieces of promo fluff first aired on BBC Amer­ica. They should be rub­bish, but Peter Dav­i­son is an in­spired host, and the huge range of guests in­ter­viewed ( Paul McGann, Mof­fat, and more) make th­ese sur­pris­ingly good fun. Also en­joy­able is the “Deep Breath” Q& A hosted by Zoe Ball, though there’s lit­tle new info to be gleaned. The same can be said for the bar­rage of short two- minute fea­turettes ( four of which are ex­clu­sive), which have almost noth­ing to say. Trail­ers are also in­cluded, as is the com­plete ver­sion of Foxes’s cover of Queen.

There are four com­men­taries: “Into The Dalek” is good, with di­rec­tor Ben Wheat­ley and writer Phil Ford ami­able com­pan­ions; “The Care­taker” is also en­joy­able, but “Ro­bot Of Sher­wood” and “Kill The Moon” are bland. “The sci­ence is com­pli­cated here,” says di­rec­tor Paul Wilmshurst, of “Kill The Moon”’ s end­ing. No shit.

There are also some ir­ri­tat­ing omis­sions. Doc­tor Who Live – Peter Ca­paldi’s TV re­veal – is ab­sent, as is Strax’s cin­e­matic in­tro to “Deep Breath” ( both are on the stand­alone “Deep Breath” disc, com­pletists). There are no deleted scenes, so the be­head­ing in “Ro­bot Of Sher­wood” and an ad­di­tional Rustie scene from “Into The Dalek” re­main on the cut­ting room floor. Will Sal­mon The brief space­ship chase at the start of “The Care­taker” was filmed in the Doc­tor Who Ex­pe­ri­ence ex­hi­bi­tion.

“Don’t you start go­ing on about spoons full of sugar, now.”

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