Series 10: Oxygen

Another cracker here. Love Capaldi’s opening voiceover too, sets the mood greatly. This story is the first one where Nardole has more than a cameo and the three of them make a wonderful TARDIS team and I find myself sad that we’re not going to get a nice long run with them. Their banter is great and they compliment each other well, I could watch a whole episode with just the three of them.

Oxygen as a commodity owned by the rich and sold to the poor until they stop being productive and efficent is certainly something I can see happening in the future! Capaltism in Space as The Doctor puts it. The dead walking are suitably creepy and make a good visible threat.  The scene with Bill exposed to the vacuum is shot so well and good to see saving her has repercussions for the Doctor which will last longer than the end of the episode.

Bill’s  “death” is also handled well, her last moments feel completely in keeping with her character and works in motivating The Doctor to end things by holding the company to ransom. The story concludes in a very similar way to The Rebel Flesh with a unseen uprising which at least is satisfying.

This story is probably the slightest of the series so far but still very enjoyable in part due to the great chemistry of the three regulars.

Series 10: Knock Knock

David Suchet was the first actor I met, back in the mid eighties they filmed part of Blott on the Landscape in Blaise Castle Estate near where I lived and they erected a big polystyrene archway which all us kids found fascinating. During breaks in filming David would sign autographs and happily joke and chat with all the kids and people (George Cole by contrast was a miserable bugger! ) Since then I’ve always had a soft spot for David Suchet and was thrilled when I heard he was going to be in Doctor Who and thankfully he was superb.

Knock Knock is a wonderfully creepy story and although the story starts light with a funny house hunting montages  (after a recent move I can sympathise! ) I like Bill’s friends, although they’re sketched out quickly they feel really and Bill’s reluctance to have The Doctor be part of her everyday life again feels natural and organic.

The Landlord is great and Suchet plays him so well giving a nuanced performance rather than just playing a one note villas switching from sinister to angry before reverting to the little boy who was scared of losing his mother. Eliza too is realised well and the scenes of the house and bugs eating the housemates are equally good.

Unfortunately my head phones are still mislaid somewhere from my recent move so I was unable to listen to the binaural version so hopefully I will find them before the series boxset but I’ve heard it works well.

So that’s 4 out of 4 good stories so far, this season is certainly shaping up to be a good one and a worthy swansong for both Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat.

Series 10: Thin Ice

Unfortunately a house move means I’m very behind  so will try to catch up.

Thin Ice is another cracker and I’m absolutely loving The Doctor and Bill’s relationship with her continuing to ask all the questions we would about time travelling and I loved the Doctor joking with her. It feels like they’re having proper conversations

The Ice fair looks wonderful and very atmospheric and whilst not a lot happens in the first ten minutes I found myself not minding. It kicks into action with the boys death and Bill’s reactions to it, again she confronts a element of The Doctor’s lifestyle that is often overlooked or brushed under the carpet. Bill definitely feels the most well rounded companion since Donna all those years ago.

I loved the bit where The Doctor strolls into the workhouse, it has a very classic series vibe to it as he finds everything out. Then we come to the scene with Sutcliffe which caused some outrage for The Doctor punching him for his attitudes towards Bill. I don’t understand people’s problem with this, The Doctor’s always defended his friends and although he’s rarely physically violent there are incidents all the way through the show.

The end comes and it’s  all in Bill’s hands as she decides to save the enslaved creature and in turn also saves the street children.

Nardole gets a small cameo to end the episode along with the vault subplot and he is impressing me far more than I thought and has improved since the comedy throwaway of Husbands.

In short this was a good story that although the threat is slight the joy comes from the characters interactions. It’s 3 out of 3 enjoyable stories so far. 

Series 10: Smile

Bit behind on these but the second episode of the run is as good as the first. The show is following  the RTD template of starting a new companion with a trilogy of present/past/future and it feels very right to do this as it gives both the companion and any new viewers a quick taste of the main varieties.

The precredit scene is good but think it would’ve been better as a flashback later in the story but understand that it makes a good hook into the rest of the episode especially as it’s much more sedate than the first episode

The Doctor and Bill are a joy to watch with Bill asking all the questions and making the observations most people would. The first half of the episode with them just wandering, chatting and exploring was so good and very reminecesent of the Hartnell era and specifically The Ark in Space. (Loved the “Earth was evacuated in ships and I’ve ran into a few of them over the years” line, in my opinion the perfect way to do continuity, a nice nod for us oldtimers but not offputting for the new viewers) 

Bill following The Doctor back after their initial escape to help also felt very natural and she gets him and his reasons for doing what he does. It’s so refreshing to have a companion who’s not just a plot point but a real character who is I intelligent,  genuinely excited and interested in what she’s seeing and experiencing.  The episode looks beautiful too, a very good use of location. 

I was a bit wary of the emoji robots before seeing the episode and fortunately they were used better than I thought and the idea of the living city built around the ship is a good one, although using emoji’s is probably going to date this story far more than others of this era. Their reason for killing the colonists makes perfect sense, robots programmed not to recognise grief and to kill anyone exhibiting it which became viral.

The resolution doesn’t quite hit the market as it feels very rushed as The Doctor realises the robots have become sentient but reprograms them anyway. The pound  sign ending seems out of place considering what’s gone on before. I have a sneaky suspicion the humans will end up trying to destroy the robots eventually!

I did like the immediate lead in to the next story at the end of this one. Again a very Hartnellesque move and one I like. This season is shaping up to be a great one and like the last one makes me sad this is the last Capaldi season.

Series 10: The Pilot

So we finally get Series 10 and it’s bittersweet now we know the brilliant Peter Capaldi is leaving and we get one of the shows periodical soft reboots.

The main thrust of the story is the new companion Bill played by Pearl Mackie and she’s wonderful, a great character played by a fantastic actress, it’s such a breath of fresh air to have a companion with no complicated mysterious back story. The chemistry between her and Peter is immediate too.

I got a Shada vibe from the set up of The Doctor as a university lecturer and totally fits the character and it’s a surprise it’s took this long to put him in that set up. Nardole is very much a supporting character and like the recent Christmas special he’s much more subdued.

The Bill and Heather relationship seems a little rushed but that couldn’t be helped as it needs to be to get to the main danger of the story as Bill gets dragged into The Doctor’s world. It’s refreshing to see Bill’s sexual its dealt with so matter of fact lyrics which is quite correct and it’s been so lovely seeing people on twitter so pleased to feel represented in a show they love. The idea of sentient engine oil looking for someone who wants to leave is a good one and enables The Doctor to defeat it easily enough enabling us to continue getting to know Bill.

The obligatory “it’s bigger on the inside” scene is actually amusing and I loved Bill’s reactions and comments. The interplay between the three regulars is excellent and the dialogue sparkles, I hope there’s more of this throughout the series. 

Then we get some Dalek action after all no reboot is complete without them! We even get a glimpse of the Movellans in a bit of pure fan service.

The resolution of the story is simple and effective as poor old Bill loses Heather, let’s hope she has more luck with the next one. 

That was a excellent series opener and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, I just wish Peter Capaldi was staying for longer.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Know this may be unpopular with some sections of fandom but this story is very enjoyable and was perfect for Christmas Day.

As a comic fan too I was worried about the mix with Doctor Who but those concerns were soon removed as the show deals with the topic as it has with every other fantasy genre.

The opening scenes with the young Grant and the Doctor are pure joy to watch, Peter Capaldi just oozes charm and Doctorness  (is that even a word) which makes it even more of a shame we’ve only got one more series with him. I do laugh at the Spiderman scene every time I watch.

Once the story gets to present day it doesn’t lose any of it’s charm and ticks all the superhero boxes. Steven Moffat mentioned the 1978 Superman movie was his touchstone while writing it and it definitely shows especially the Grant/Lucy scenes.

Like various other stories over the years the alien menace is almost secondary which is a pity as they’re suitably creepy and it’s a good concept (basically a more gruesome cross between the Slitheen and the Autons). Hopefully they’ll crop up again

The fun nature is punctuated with the odd moment of melancholy as The Doctor remembers his last moments with River and Capaldi plays these moments so wonderfully.

Matt Lucus is more subdued here and Nardole works well and has a nice dynamic with The Doctor, After this story I find myself looking forward to him appearing in the next series

The series 10 trailer looks excellent too.  Really excited for the new series and have successfully managed to avoid spoilers (except the big ones everyone knows ofcourse) so sure I have lots to look forward to!

Farewell Peter

So it was announced on Monday that Peter Capaldi is leaving after the next series. I have to be honest that this felt inevitable. Three seasons over four years seems to be the norm now. All four lead actors since the relaunch have all commented at various times how long, hard and stressful a series shoot is, after all unlike most series the lead carries at least 75% of most episodes.

I have loved Peter’s Doctor straight from the scene at the end of Time of the Doctor. In fact I think I automatically liked him from his announcement.

His first series proved me completely correct. I took to his Doctor straight away (I realise that I prefer my Doctors with a bit of attitude) and he made every episode watchable regardless of content. 

The great thing is although all us fans are lamenting his Doctor we still have 13 episodes left to enjoy and who knows where his Doctor will go before the end (I did hear a lovely idea on twitter from @MagicBeliever93 that his last act should be flying back to save Gallifrey in Day of the Doctor which feels very Moffatesque) 

Now the inevitable flurry of next Doctor nominees is starting and I’ll put my hat in the ring and suggest Hayley Attwell, it’s time for a female Doctor and if I’m honest none of the male actors mentioned in any of these lists interest me as much as many of the female ones. It would also be a way to reinvigorate the press and the casual viewer into watching what to them will be a 13 year old show by that time. My only worry is hearing the 2018 series will be shown in the Autumn again which I feel is a mistake if they shunt it around the time slot like 2016. It needs a definite time slot for the whole run and at a time the whole family can watch- this is a large part of why Doctor Who was a success for its first 6 years.

In closing I’ll go back to the present and thank Peter Capaldi for being a fantastic Doctor who I know I’ll be rewatching for years to come.