“Doctor Who” fans already know that the show’s most recent season was released on Netflix earlier this month. For people unfamiliar with “Doctor Who,” it’s a show about a regenerating crazy guy who flies around in a time machine called the TARDIS, which looks like a big blue police box.
That guy is the Doctor, and he’s the last of an alien race called the Time Lords. If this description sounds a little campy and sci-fi, that’s reflective of the show—but in the best way. While the villains that the Doctor faces may be a little robotic or alien (sorry, couldn’t resist a bad joke), the writing is solid and the show often elicits real emotion.
“Doctor Who” is one of the longest-running shows on television. The original incarnation of the show aired from 1963-1989. It was revived in 2005 and has aired since. A neat quirk about the show is its ability to change leading actors every few seasons. When the Doctor starts to die, he is instead reborn as a different person, with a new face and personality.
Since the show was revived in 2005, there have been four new renditions of the Doctor. In the most recent and eighth season, actor Peter Capaldi takes over as the 12th Doctor. During his travels through time and space, the Doctor usually has a companion to accompany him. The current companion, Clara Oswald (played by actress Jenna Coleman), has been around since the previous Doctor. Because this season begins with a new actor portraying the Doctor, many of the episodes focus on familiarizing the audience with the new Doctor. Capaldi is an older actor than most of the recent Doctors, so his casting was a big change of pace for many viewers.
Episode 1 of this season, “Deep Breath,” is the first full episode in which Capaldi portrays the Doctor. His Doctor is a little darker and more mature than previous actor Matt Smith’s, but having Clara around helps with the transition. “Into the Dalek” was one of the best episodes this season. The Daleks, a race of alien cyborgs, are a recurring villain in the “Doctor Who” universe. Notable things about this episode: the line about the Doctor being “a good Dalek” and the fact that the episode was reminiscent of “The Magic School Bus” episode where the class goes into a student’s body to find out what’s making him sick. (Have fun imagining the extremely British Peter Capaldi as Ms. Frizzle.)
Other season highlights included “Flatline” and the final two episodes, “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven.” “Flatline” was a fun episode with an unusual bad guy. Due to technical difficulties, the TARDIS becomes tiny, and Clara has to carry it around in her purse.
Throughout the season, Clara begins a relationship with a fellow schoolteacher named Danny Pink (played by Samuel Anderson). She eventually tells him about her travels with the Doctor. Unfortunately for her, Danny and the Doctor aren’t fond of each other, which leads to some tension. While Danny and Clara aren’t the best couple the show has ever seen, their storyline becomes interesting by the end of the season.
Overall, this season wasn’t my favorite. Capaldi did a good job, but I prefer the 10th Doctor, played by David Tennant. Given the choice, I’d rather see Amy Pond as a companion than Clara Oswald. However, this season was a good one. I enjoyed the writing, and the last couple of episodes contained a great reveal. Capaldi and Coleman have good platonic chemistry, which is unusual–there is almost always excessive flirting between the Doctor and his companion.
I look forward to the next season, which will air Sept. 19 on BBC One.
Image via Blastr.com