Okay – 12 episodes of Doctor Who Series 8, 12 quick and dirty reviews and 12 episodes of flash-fic fan-fic featuring the all-new 12th Doctor. Away we go…
We start with a giant T-Rex stomping up Victorian London. It’s a great special effect shot, looks superb in the trailers and is frankly just gratuitous in the episode. Either way, the T-Rex spews up the Tardis and its occupants, the lovely Clara and the newly regenerated Doctor. The Paternoster Gang (Lady Vastra, Jenny and Strax the Comedy Sontaran) are on hand to ease the regeneration along, but I really hope this is the last we see of this lot. There’s a good fifteen minutes or more of the Doctor struggling with who he is; fifteen minutes too much in my opinion – it’s a cliché that was done to death back in Classic Who, and when you consider how the 11th Doctor was thrown into action almost fully formed, it just grates a bit now. On the plus side, Jenna Coleman is given some decent material – Clara’s struggles with the new Doctor make far more sense and, for a large part of the feature-length episode, it’s Clara that carries the story.
A story turns up soon enough though; there’s a nasty cyborg thing going round snatching bits of people. There’s an excellent scene when the Doctor and Clara are lured to a restaurant (by whom? That’s another issue..) – where the new Doctor starts to settle down and take charge and Clara starts coming to terms with him. There’s a tricky moment when the Doctor leaves Clara to the mercy of that very nasty cyborg with half a face – is the Doctor a coward, is he just being pragmatic or is he so cunning that he knows Clara will be OK (if somewhat shaken) and his “escape” provides him with the cover to come back and sort it all out? Sorting it out comes down to the Paternoster gang whirling into action against the patch-work cyborgs and the Doctor having an angry face-off (ahem) with the half-faced cyborg in a big balloon. But did the cyborg jump, or was he pushed?
Overall, it’s solid enough stuff – but it certainly doesn’t match the Eleventh Hour as a new Doctor’s debut. Capaldi is good but, since his character is kept deliberately on edge, he isn’t able to own the role and the show like his predecessor did. Hopefully things will settle down as we go along. As mentioned before, Coleman gets to bring some real character to Clara – being made to question her attitude to the Doctor and some form of development from pretty sidekick to someone who really is going to help. The pace of the episode seemed uneven; this comes across as a transition piece, moving away from the fast, furious and fun running around of the 11th Doctor to something slower and more considered. The episode definitely strays into Hinchcliffe horror territory.
It’s not great, but it is very good, at least until Matt Smith’s cameo. This is just awful – surely a huge insult to Peter Capaldi? Does Capaldi not become the Doctor until Smith formally hands the role over via the call to Clara? Is Clara so weak and superficial (and we’ve just spent half the episode proving she isn’t) that she needs the previous Doctor, HER Doctor to persuade her to stick with the new Doctor? It’s an insulting and totally unnecessary scene that, for me, sours a perfectly acceptable start for the 12th Doctor.
AND NOW, the flash fic. The rules are – each episode is exactly 100 words, I don’t do any real planning – we’re making it up as we go along - a bit like Capaldi’s new Doctor…
HungerTime – part one
The latest version of the console room was still not right. It had far more round things but still missed something. He found the intercom switch.
“Clara,” shouted the Doctor, “can you come to the test console room. I need your input.”
No answer. He checked the Tardis interior display. Rooms, corridors, whole sectors shifted in and out of being but there was no way a part could vanish if Clara was in it.
She wasn’t anywhere.
They’d been drifting through the vortex – it was impossible for Clara to leave the Tardis.
But, he thought, Clara is the impossible girl.