Life­long Doc­tor Who fan Rus­sell Lewin had some big is­sues with the last se­ries

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Letters -

Ca­paldi’s lines were of­ten in­de­ci­pher­able

With ex­cite­ment al­ready build­ing for Doc­tor Who’s ninth se­ries, it’s time to get some­thing off my chest, which I couldn’t do at the time, as I was tak­ing my “sab­bat­i­cal” from SFX: un­like a lot of the team, I loathed the last se­ries.

Se­ries eight wanted to be dif­fer­ent and did so by be­ing “darker”. For me this jarred. It clashed with the show’s edict of be­ing fun for chil­dren, and some episodes – the ap­palling “The Care­taker”, the even worse “In The For­est…” – mixed the adult and the child­ish in a truly ghastly fash­ion. “Deep Breath” was doomy, dirgey stodge, “Kill The Moon” way too black and “Dark Wa­ter” had a fright­en­ingly bleak con­cept. I gen­uinely be­lieve that view­ers with de­pres­sion or emo­tional is­sues would have been tor­tured by this se­ries.

My other huge prob­lem was Clara, fore­fronted to the point of ridicu­lous­ness, of­ten su­pe­rior in wis­dom and knowl­edge and courage to a 1,000- year- old Time Lord who’s saved the uni­verse umpteen times. Hav­ing her be picked up from school for oc­ca­sional ad­ven­tures re­moved much of the flow and sense of won­der. Plus, how many times can one char­ac­ter say the words “shut up”, “a thing ” or “stuff ”?

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Clara and Danny was the base the se­ries was built on – and there was way too much of it – but it was about as con­vinc­ing as Michael Jack­son and Lisa Marie Pres­ley’s. This was in large part due to Sa­muel An­der­son’s per­for­mance – he seemed in­ca­pable of more than one emo­tion or ex­pres­sion, in­clud­ing when he wasn’t a Cy­ber­man.

I still be­lieve Peter Ca­paldi could be a great Doc­tor, but not here. It wasn’t his fault that the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion was all over the place ( writ­ing for a new Doc­tor is tricky) but his lines were of­ten in­de­ci­pher­able and his in­ter­pre­ta­tion veered wildly be­tween nasty and buf­foon­ish.

With ir­ri­tat­ing writ­ing – let’s change this char­ac­ter’s sex! Let’s kill some­one then bring them back to life! – ter­ri­ble science (“… Sher­wood”, “… Moon” and “… For­est…” par­tic­u­larly) and sev­eral av­er­age episodes, you’ve got the weak­est run since McCoy.

I did rather en­joy “Last Christ­mas” though.

Only “Fear Her” has a lower IMDb score than this episode…

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