In many ways, I feel like whoever edited the preview seen at the end of “In the Forest of the Night” did a huge disservice to the two-part season finale by including footage from both episodes in the preview. I get that it’s hard for the BBC to not publicize the return of an old monster like the Daleks or (in this case) the Cybermen, but I felt like a lot of the tension that “Dark Water” was trying to achieve was undermined by the preview and SPOILER photos that had leaked through various tabloids before the season began.
But I still felt like “Dark Water” kept a lot of its cards close to the vest and still had a few surprises along the way.
The most enjoyable was how much it felt like an homage to the Patrick Troughton era Cybermen stories. In most second Doctor Cybermen stories, the Cybermen are a threat for the first half of the story, but really don’t emerge in force and en mass until the mid-point cliffhanger. And that’s what happened here, even if the Doctor doesn’t necessarily realize that the Cybermen are behind the Nethersphere and using it as a way to harvest new humans to convert into Cybermen. The feel of the tanks, running side by side and stacked up several deep, brought to mind visions of “The Tomb of the Cybermen” while the Cybermen emerging into modern day London and among iconic landmarks felt like it was a page right out of “The Invasion.” At one point, I fully expected to see a sewer cap thrown aside and a Cybermen emerge. Continue reading
Since I’m behind on my Doctor Who reviewing, I’m offering commentary on “Mummy on the Orient Express” and “Flatline” in one post. It’s two posts for the price of one!
Mummy on the Orient Express
In the 80’s, the production team wanted to introduce audiences to a more alien, less likeable Doctor who would slowly mellow over time and become more and more liked by the audience. The result was the sixth Doctor and the plan didn’t exactly go, well, as planned. Colin Baker’s era was one of the most polarizing in the classic series run and led to the show becoming the target of a great deal in internal criticism at the BBC and the show going on hiatus for eighteen months.
With the Peter Capaldi era, I feel like that in addition to destructing the character of the Doctor, Steven Moffat has taken on that task of giving us a more alien, less likeable Doctor and is showing us how it could have and should have been done. With “Mummy” we look into the question of just how the Doctor goes about solving the problem or defeating the alien threat facing him in each story. Do the ends justify the means?
In this case, it’s a high body count (nothing new, just watch any story by Robert Holmes) that piles up before the Doctor can come up with a way to stop the Mummy from killing everyone on the train. Does the Doctor have the right to ask each of these various people to sacrifice themselves in the interest of obtaining data on how to defeat the Mummy and Gus, who has lured the Doctor into this particular trap (interestingly, the Doctor has turned down multiple invitations to come on board and solve this until Clara threatens to leave him. More on this later). The Doctor realizes there is a way to stop the Mummy, but it takes data (in this case the death of innocent people) to give him the pieces he needs to solve the puzzle.
Of the stories we’ve seen this year, this one feels like it comes closest to the classic Who model of the “base under siege” story. In fact, I’d say it felt a great deal like the Tom Baker era story “The Robots of Death” with people trapped in an isolated, locked-room location and a force coming to kill everyone on board. Having the Doctor chose to take Clara into what can be summed up as “the most typical of classic Who models” for what she wants to be her last hurrah in the TARDIS is interesting. The Doctor doesn’t give her a tour of the marvels of the universe and all the beauty within it, but instead a classic battle against the forces of evil that he faces. And in doing so, he gives her a bit of insight into who he is now and just how alien he truly he is. He also feeds her addiction to traveling with him — the excitement of the discovery and just how these various monsters are defeated. Continue reading
When I saw the preview for “The Caretaker,” my first thought was, “That looks an awful lot like ‘School Reunion. Watching the episode, that feeling didn’t necessarily go away. And that may be part of the point.
Each episode this season has seemed echoed a previous installment from the first seven or so seasons of modern Doctor Who. It’s almost as if Steven Moffat want to show us what the new Doctor is like (and attempt to answer the question of whether or not he’s a good man) by putting the character into situations similar to those we’ve previously seen. Yes, this time around he’s masquerading as the caretaker of a school instead of a teacher, but the premise of battling an alien menace in the familiar surroundings of a school is similar enough.
But where “School Reunion” was about the conflict between the current companion and the previous companion, this story centered on the tug of war taking place in Clara’s life as she tries to keep the two men in her life unaware of each’s other presence. The interesting thing is that no matter how hard Clara tries to lead this double life (eating two dinners, arriving in the cab soaking wet with seaweed in her hair), she isn’t necessarily hiding anything from either party involved. In both cases, she’s making Danny and the Doctor more suspicious about what’s going on and that much more eager to solve the mystery. Continue reading