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