Doctor Who sticks with present day and Earth-bound this week as we delve deeper into Clara’s (Jenna-Louise Coleman) budding relationship with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). So how does the ‘at home’ adventure fare?
Let’s bitch it out.
After last week’s promising offering, I was disappointed to see that we fall right back into the uninteresting. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) takes it upon himself to single-handedly save the world from a kill-hungry alien/robot hybrid. He does so by unconvincingly posing as a caretaker at Clara’s school. Why the caretaker role is even necessary, I have no idea. Why the alien has taken up shop in East London, I also have no idea. Why the alien is so hell-bent on killing everyone, well that’s not explained with any clarity either. This may have been spelled out somewhere in the episode, but I either didn’t care enough to pay attention, or it was so glossed over that I couldn’t help but see it as unimportant. Instead, the real meat of this week’s narrative was all about The Doctor’s approval of Clara’s new beau, Danny’s subsequent discovery of Clara’s double life, and Clara running around, hair bobbing uncontrollably as she tries to juggle it all.
And so, I continue to struggle with caring about S8 of Doctor Who for the following reasons:
- I still find myself finding it incredibly difficult to latch onto Twelve. There are references throughout the episode of Doctors past, which brings that tinge of nostalgia, but at the end of the day, it feels like Twelve is just telling us about The Doctor rather than embodying the character himself.
- Clara’s uselessness is becoming more and more apparent. I don’t feel like she’s adding a single thing to any of the adventures aside from over-blinking and asking, very slowly, how she can help. Literally anyone else could be slotted into this companion role – Clara no longer brings anything unique to the table
- I’m frustrated that we’ve essentially returned to a boring domestic drama with a bit of sci-fi sprinkled in as an after-thought. I have no idea if Doctor Who is aiming for some genre-bending this season, but it’s a classic case of multi-tasking – detracted focus on a single thing results in the execution of a bunch of things being half-assed and lazy.
Twelve continues to be a cranky old man, ‘cept this time, he’s actually got a broom to wave around to complete the stereotype. I would love to say it was done in a cheeky, self-knowing way, but the episode simply isn’t smart enough to convey that. I’m also getting mighty tired of Twelve arrogantly sneaking around trying to figure things out all by himself, only to have it blow up in his face. This episode is just a ploy to get the audience used to the fact that Clara will soon be leaving the show as companion because she can’t have it all. (Note to show: We’re already used to it, many of us are welcoming it.)
Sure it’s mildly endearing to see how much Danny and Clara have grown to love one another, but at the end of the day I’m asking myself – why do I care? I don’t mind the focus on relationships, but in a show like Who, that relationship building feels more purposeful when it’s weaved into a properly fleshed-out adventure. Instead, the ‘adventure’ portion of this episode feels tacked on as means to get Clara to blurt out that she’s in love with Danny (yawn). When there are so many more pressing questions (like who the hell is Twelve?!) I find it tedious to spend much of the hour having Danny try to prove himself to the Doctor by expressing a played-out stereotype of chivalry. Case in point – the whole speech on the couch at episode’s end. Danny asks Clara to no longer lie to him because at the end of the day, lies means that he’s unable to ‘help her’. Here’s a thought – maybe Clara should stop lying because trust is at the foundation of any healthy relationship? Ugh, it just plays out like a bad teen soap opera from the nineties.
I’m so frustrated with the show that I’m jumping ship. I’ve put in my requisite five episodes and will no longer be reviewing this season. Perhaps I’ll pop back in with a quick-take or two if something proves interesting- but I’m not holding my breath.
- The Matt Smith lookalike bit was hilarious; I’ll give the episode that.
- I’ll also hand it to Danny for calling Clara and The Doctor out on their BS after their first encounter in the gymnasium. The scene was a rare instance of dialogue not feeling too contrived or artificial – but alas, there just wasn’t enough of it.
- Missy (Michelle Gomez) returns but gives us nothing more than scowl. It’s okay though, as we see the ‘processing’ room which gives us a more representative picture of what this ‘afterlife’ place might look like. I continue to maintain that the Missy business remains intriguing, but not enough to keep watching S8 with any kind of regularity. We’ve seen a slow-burn reveal before, but at least then we were given interesting one-off adventures in between.
- I also appreciate the little comedic bits we got with Courtney Woods (Ellis George). Too bad she doesn’t appear to be in the running as the new companion as that would definitely shake things up.
What did you think viewers? Did you like the Earth-bound adventure as opposed to the more fantastical? Will Danny become the next Rory (Arthur Darvill)? Do you think Clara will just stop travelling with the Doctor by choice ala Martha Jones, or will something (or some one) intervene to get her permanently off the TARDIS? Sound off in the comments below.
Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9:00pm EST on BBC America and 8:00pm EST on Space Network in Canada.