Doc­tor Who

A com­plex hy­brid of the old and new...

SFX - - Reviews -

UK Broad­cast BBC One, fin­ished

US Broad­cast BBC Amer­ica, fin­ished

Episodes Re­viewed 9.01-9.12

Di­vi­sive. That’s the word that best sums up Peter Ca­paldi’s sec­ond year of TARDIS travel. De­pend­ing on your taste this was ei­ther the sea­son that re­turned the show to its must-see glory, or the mo­ment that Doc­tor Who turned in on it­self.

With its fo­cus on two-part tales, nu­mer­ous nods to the past and re­peat vis­i­ta­tions from Maisie Wil­liams’ Ashildr, it was cer­tainly a year that re­warded long-term view­ers over ca­sual chan­nel-surfers. Re­al­is­ti­cally, the much-wor­ried-over drop in overnight rat­ings is no dis­as­ter, but the sea­son’s first half felt strangely lack­ing in buzz. Per­haps that was down to the late start times or the lack of new cast mem­bers, but it prob­a­bly wasn’t helped by “The Ma­gi­cian’s Ap­pren­tice” – the least new­bie-friendly opener the show has ever had.

The episodes that fol­lowed were strong, but per­haps a lit­tle too fa­mil­iar, while the Hy­brid arc was ten­u­ously threaded through­out and re­solved with a shrug. And while Ca­paldi has fully grown into the char­ac­ter, bring­ing warmth and hu­mour to his spik­i­ness, Clara was oddly side­lined.

And then the Zy­gons in­vaded and ev­ery­thing changed. Peter Har­ness and Mof­fat’s two-parter was an in­stant clas­sic, with ac­tion, a pow­er­ful metaphor and a cen­tral speech that felt al­most painfully rel­e­vant. It set the tone for a more ad­ven­tur­ous sec­ond half of the sea­son where even the old-school “Sleep No More” ended with the Doc­tor los­ing and you, the viewer, killed by the mon­sters. And then, a week later, Clara died...

“Face The Raven” was a real blow. And al­though she came back, Clara’s death feels sig­nif­i­cant. That’s partly down to “Heaven Sent”, which put the Doc­tor through bil­lions of years of tor­ment, but also be­cause her res­ur­rec­tion came with an­other price: the Doc­tor’s mem­o­ries. It’s a melan­choly twist, but it en­sures that Clara’s res­ur­rec­tion doesn’t feel cheap. And given that she’s spent so long try­ing to be the Doc­tor, giv­ing her a TARDIS to run off in was an ap­pro­pri­ate fate and an up­lift­ing end to a com­plex, oc­ca­sion­ally awk­ward, but re­ward­ing sea­son. Will Salmon

Just make sure you keep your TARDIS this clean and neat, Clara.

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