Tag Archive: moffat


Vikings, gods, aliens, and Maisie Williams… yeah, Doctor Who is weird. But weird is fun and interesting. “The Girl Who Died” has a much lighter tone than the previous two episodes, and it’s a nice change of pace.

SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.

Basically, the Doctor and Clara land on Earth quite some time ago and are instantly captured by vikings and are taken to the viking village. Simple and tidy setup, nothing wrong with that. The Doctor tries to show off his power and act as Odin, one of the gods the vikings pray to. Just as he’s doing this, a giant image of a man in the sky, who the villagers know as Odin, appears and he claims to be Odin and is sending his troops down to bring the best warriors of the village up to Valhalla.

So crazy it just might work. Left to right: Clara (Jenna Coleman), Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Ashildr (Maisie Williams)

So crazy it just might work. Left to right: Clara (Jenna Coleman), Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Ashildr (Maisie Williams)

Well, it goes rather poorly, as the men are killed, but Clara and Ashildr (played by Maisie Williams, best known as Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) are also brought to the ship referred to as Valhalla, but they are not killed. Ashildr, much like Arya (really, if you know Game of Thrones, you’ll notice similarities in the two characters), declares war on the alien posing as Odin. By the way, they happen to be one of the other million deadliest alien races (seriously, is it the Daleks, Sontarans, or this new race called the Mire?).

No matter, the village has 24 hours to get ready to fight the most fearsome beings in the universe. Easy, right? Maybe, that is, if the village’s soldiers weren’t just killed off.

This is where the tone changes compared to the rest of the series 9 so far. We get a series of funny scenes of the Doctor trying to train the villagers how to fight. It seems getting normal townspeople to use swords is harder than you may think. These scenes are a welcome change to the more dramatic nature of the past four episodes.

Admittedly, I do think the episode starts to fall towards a little more silly territory, but then ties it all in with a couple serious scenes to balance the tone. We are given a nice scene between the Doctor and Clara the night before the battle is to begin. The two of them seem more like friends this year and don’t have the awkwardness that sometimes came up last year.

As with Doctor Who, all ends well in the end, and I won’t give any of that away, but it is somewhat anti-climactic. But that’s not important (though, it does hilariously use The Benny Hill Show’s theme tune). What is important is the Doctor remembering why he chose his face, which has been hinted at since his first episode. He chose it to remind himself to always save someone and to not just give up. In this case it is Ashildr, who was integral to securing their victory over the Mire, even if it cost her life.

The Doctor doesn't look overly intimidated by his new enemy

The Doctor doesn’t look overly intimidated by his new enemy

This is where the episode becomes important and more than just a standalone story. The Mire have technology to revive them during battle, and the Doctor took it from them once they were defeated (two tablets to be exact). He revives Ashildr with one, and while she lives she too cannot die (Captain Jack says hello). At this point, only the Doctor knows this and it sets up the story for next week’s The Woman Who Lived.

Before that, I would like to note this episode, despite its silliness does something welcoming for a story in a Steven Moffat led series: establishes the background and develops a new character who will likely show up throughout series 9. Ashildr has a well established character. She’s loyal to her village and its people. Not only is she loyal, but she likes the people and isn’t just loyal because she has to be. However, now we get to see how she develops as the people around her die and she continues to live forever. Unlike the Doctor she can only run so far. These are things we may find out in The Woman Who Lived, and I hope we do. River Song was Moffat’s big character, but her development, well, never really developed and she just ended up showing up to say “hello sweetie” and “spoilers.” Boring, very, very boring. Now we have a character who isn’t annoyingly in love with the Doctor, and instead has to cope with going through the decades, seeing the world change, and having to be an observer, never really there.

I’m excited for the rest of series 9 and am really interested in seeing where The Woman Who Lived takes us. Until then, here’s the trailer:

Doctor Who: Under the Lake Review

After the fantastic story to open series 9 of Doctor Who, I had my doubts about a base-under-siege story as a followup. However, after watching “Under the Lake,” I can safely say my concerns were not needed and that series 9 continues its mark of excellence.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Typically, these sort of stories result in a lot of running around and a somewhat rushed ending and they usually get kind of

Doing some sort of stuff

Doing some investigative stuff

boring. I can’t say what the end result is since this is a two part story, but I can say the cliffhanger has me wanting more.

Basically, the Doctor and Clara end up in an underwater base located in the midst of a flooded town in the not-so-distant future. Here’s the catch (so punny): there are ghosts roaming the halls of the base. To make matters more interesting, there’s a spaceship they discovered in the town that they brought aboard the base, and it has some sort of writing on it that sort of subliminally conveys a message to all that have looked at it.

Here’s the mystery: where’d the ship come from, what is the writing, where is the ship’s captain, why is one of the energy cells missing from the ship, and where is the body being transported in it (suspended animation chamber or something, can’t recall exactly what it’s called)?

These are a lot of questions that normally wouldn’t be around if the episode was only 45 minutes. This is why I enjoy two part episodes. The writer is able to fully develop the story, creating little parts and details that otherwise would not be able to make the final cut.

Speaking of the writing, I love how the characters are written in this story. Naturally, there’s a crew on the base, and as some background, in the opening credits one of the dies and becomes a ghost. Instead of being hostile towards the Doctor – and in turn killing about 10 minutes of the Doctor trying to gain their trust – they basically just go with it (and a little help of the psychic paper saying he’s from UNIT helped as well). The crew isn’t yelling at each other or anything. Instead, they’re trying to figure out how to approach the situation and actually listen to what the Doctor has to say. I rather enjoy how these professionals aren’t a bunch of bumbling fools, which is something that bothers me in a lot of sci-fi when a team of supposedly intelligent scientists turn into a bunch of clueless characters existing just to be killed off, which is basically lazy writing.

Clara is arguably the best dressed teacher on any show ever

Clara is arguably the best dressed teacher on any show ever, and Rose could take some style advice from her

There is one annoying character, a businessman who is over-the-top in it for the profit, but luckily he gets killed off and becomes a ghost (not a big spoiler, you see it coming a mile away).

Perhaps my favorite character is Cass, who is deaf and has her interpreter, Lunn (the sexual tension is strong between these two). Whereas in the the pre-Moffat era, having a diverse character meant banging it over the viewer’s head until the entire planet knew there was a diverse character, Cass exists as an actual character and not as an agenda or political correctness. I don’t believe it was ever pointed out that she’s deaf. Which would make sense since the Doctor and Clara travel the universe, so if a deaf person is their biggest surprise, well, there’s an issue. And Cass ends up being the one in charge of the base, which is great in terms that it shows her disability does not define her and for all the people complaining about Moffat’s apparent (at least to some people, I don’t see it as much) lack of ability to write a female character, he has writers who can write strong female characters.

Cass and Lunn

Cass and Lunn

Also note, Lunn was not killed by the ghosts when he was cornered by them. Why is this? I think that is something we’ll have to wait to find out. I don’t want to give away why he got in this position, but just remember it. This is something I like about a two part episode, they can have these mysteries all come together as things get resolved in the second part, or at least that’s the hope.

Even more interesting, the ghosts are mouthing words, which the Doctor concludes are coordinates to a building in the town. What is the significance of the building? Well, the Doctor believes they are a signal, but a signal for what?

The Doctor gets tired of not knowing why the town was flooded (well, he knows a dam broke, but what happened around that time) and all the previous mysteries noted (ah, they also found the suspended animation chamber, which is now just chilling in their main room, because why not?), so he decides to go back to the TARDIS and to when it all started. Except the ghosts get smart, and begin to lock down the base, so as they’re all running to the TARDIS, the Doctor and Clara get separated. Clara ends up with Cass and Lunn and the Doctor gets O’Donnell and Bennett (also the sexual tension, but again, enjoyably written characters).

Then, the cliffhanger: the Doctor and them fly away and Clara and her group make it back to the main room, look out the window, and see the Doctor as a ghost. Except, unlike all the other ghosts who are mouthing the same words, the Doctor is saying something different. What happens in the past that caused this? What is he saying? Just add more questions to the list.

So where are we now? The Doctor’s a ghost, adding to the total count of now four ghosts (one original, then a crew member, the business man, and now the Doctor), what’s in the suspended animation chamber, where is the missing energy cell, why did the town flood, what’s the mysterious writing on the spaceship, and who is the first ghost that didn’t die at the base?

I guess we’ll find out in part two “Before the Flood.”

Skaro, Davros, Daleks, Missy and Clara dead or alive, so much was left with last week’s cliffhanger, and rest assured, “The Witch’s Familiar” resolves everything in a pleasantly satisfying and entertaining manner. Without further delay (please excuse me posting this after “Under the Lake” aired, I will have that review up within a much more reasonable time frame) here is the review of “The Witch’s Familiar.”

THERE ARE SPOILERS, REPEAT, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Clara and Missy apparently were killed last week, or that’s what the Daleks thought. Of course they weren’t (contracts and all that good stuff dictate they live) and we now know how they are alive. Missy tells Clara of a story when the Doctor was trapped, about to be shot by a bunch of robot assassins, and in a fraction of a second, used the energy from their laser beams to teleport out of his less-than-desirable position. Similarly, Missy uses the energy from the Daleks’ laser beams to poof her and Clara (remember, their vortex manipulators are linked) out of their situation. They end up outside the city where the Doctor is and must trek back, which is mostly done off screen, so more time for the Doctor and Davros.

An old rivalry lives on

An old rivalry lives on

It’s worth noting, Missy and Clara are surprisingly great together. Or rather, I think Missy would be great with anyone. Michelle Gomez plays the part perfectly, always keeping the viewer on edge, never quite knowing which direction the character is about to go in. Unlike Steven Moffat’s previous female “equal” for the Doctor, River, Missy actually has a personality beyond saying “Hello Sweetie” and showing up to cryptically say how everything is out of order and this is the first time or this is the last time or this is somewhere in-between. I feel like there’s a whole mystery left to unravel with Missy, such as how she escaped Gallifrey, and even though we know about a lot of her past, there’s still room to explore. If it ever is explored is another topic of discussion, but for now I’d like to hope it will be explored at some point.

The majority of the story is based around the Doctor and Davros talking. Even though Davros is evil and is destined to always be evil, it was interesting to see him act with some humanity. Attempting to trick the Doctor into thinking he was going to die soon, Davros was able to play on the Doctor’s emotions, and “trick” him into using some regeneration energy to allow Davros to see one final sunrise. However, Davros anticipated this compassion, and tried to harness the Doctor’s regeneration energy (to make Dalek/Time Lord hybrids, at least it’s cooler than human Daleks and pig people), but then the Doctor countered that, and used his sonic sunglasses to do some sci-fi stuff. Little did Davros think, the regeneration energy would go through the whole city.

While Missy and Clara trek back to find the Doctor, they are in a tunnel, that’s actually a sewer, that’s actually a catacomb, where apparently the decaying Daleks are tossed down in. So the regeneration energy also went to them, and since they were pretty annoyed for being thrown away, they used the new energy to rise up and take down the city. Yeah, it was weird, but the real highlight of the story was the Doctor and Davros talking. Throughout, parallels are again drawn between the Doctor and Daleks. At one point, Davros seems to be glad Gallifrey survived, and that both he and the Doctor try their hardest to continue the existence of their people. This continues throughout the majority of the episode, and aids in further developing Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. By the way, Capaldi is absolutely fantastic in series 9 so far. It seems the writers, or at to this point, Moffat, have figured out the way he plays the character and catered the writing towards his strengths and personality.

Glasses are cool, Clara, I have sonic glasses now

Glasses are cool, Clara, I have sonic glasses now

We also get flashbacks to “Asylum of the Daleks,” with Clara once again finding herself inside a Dalek. Though, this time she is in there as a disguise and has full, telepathic control of the movement and weapons of the Dalek. This is mainly done as a plot device, in which the Doctor has to figure out if it is really Clara or an actual Dalek, at which point he threatens to kill the Dalek and Clara makes it say mercy (note, the Daleks were created by Davros, and in turn cannot say certain things, so when she wants to say it’s Clara it translates and is conveyed as “I am a Dalek”). Of course then the Doctor has to figure out why the Daleks would be able to say mercy, and realizes he made a mistake all those years ago, leaving Davros to die. Watch for yourself what happens then, but I’m sure you can guess if you have not already watched. It’s actually a really nice scene, so yes, do watch it if you have not already.

Whereas “The Magician’s Apprentice” faltered with pacing and tonal issues, “The Witch’s Familiar” doesn’t miss a beat, and keeps your eyes stuck on the screen until the final credits role. The performances from the cast are all great and for once in a long time I can say Moffat did a very good job wrapping up a story.

Here’s to hoping next week’s base-under-siege “Under the Lake” keeps the the same high quality as these two episodes did. Here is the trailer for “Under the Lake:”

 

Here we are, Doctor Who is back with the dramatic opening scene of “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Is it good, bad, or a little of both? I’m going with the latter, read on to find out how the 12th Doctor’s second season began.

Brace yourself, SPOILERS AHEAD.

After Clara and the Doctor told each other the truth in last year’s Christmas episode, they went their separate ways, with Clara being a schoolteacher and the Doctor doing whatever it is he does, and that leads us to the dramatic beginning of the episode, on Skaro. There’s a big war going on, and for whatever reason the troops on ground have bows and arrows and the opposing forces have early era airplanes, but ignoring that, this is a war on Skaro. So far so cool. As the previews showed, there’s a young boy here, and the Doctor pops in, as he does, and attempts to save him. Until, spoiler, he finds out it’s a young Davros. Davros, as in, creator of the Daleks, that Davros. Fast forward a bunch of years and Davros is seeking the Doctor because he all of a sudden remembers what happened all those years ago and is dying in a hospital. Worth noting, he is being sought out by Colony Sarff, a colony of snakes that create a humanoid being and is a loyal follower of Davros.

Things are looking a little bleak

Things are looking a little bleak

Cut to intro title/credits scene.

Back to the show.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes we may as well forget the Doctor is doing much of anything because it turns back into the Clara show as all of the airplanes on Earth stop and Clara is pulled out of her classroom and brought to UNIT Here she is apparently more competent than all of UNIT, including Kate Stewart, who is in charge of UNIT, but I’ll conveniently ignore that. After a few minutes of not much happening other than Clara telling Kate what to do, Missy comes back. Hold up, what, but she died, right?

Wrong. So that means there’s an explanation for how she didn’t die, right?

Wrong. Because, well, Moffat has tendency to not explain these sort of things (I’m looking at you Sherlock) and expects everyone to go with it, so fine, I’m going with it.

After some time, Missy, who didn’t turn good mind you, ends up helping Clara and UNIT find the Doctor. Key things to note, the Doctor left Missy his last will and testament in case he dies and Missy is his best friend, which we all kind of knew if you watched some of the Classic Who stories, where there were some rather fun scenes with the two characters. Sure, we don’t know how she came back, but she escapes death all the time, it’s her thing. I’m good with it because I really enjoy her character. She’s so dark and ridiculous, I always look forward to seeing what she is going to do next. She doesn’t play the role of the strictly villainous character, she actually has a dimension to her character, which I sometimes feel is lacking in characters Moffat creates. So more Missy the better.

So much sass

So much sass

Then things get a little confusing, at least for me, so forgive me if I missed anything explaining this. They look at a big map of the world that UNIT has and search for keywords to try and find where the Doctor is. Somehow Clara figures out he’s in 1138 AD, so I’m assuming the map accounts for all of history. Strange, but alright, it gets the plot going so Clara and Missy can make their way to the Doctor. And I’m not even going to begin to ask or wonder how the Doctor, who came to an “ax fight” with his electric guitar in 1138 AD (funny, but a little bit of a tone killer for this episode) also had a tank, he can’t simply drive one out of the TARDIS doors. Missy and Clara get here via a vortex manipulator (if you recall River used one). What’s more confusing is how Colony Sarff a) knew to look in 1138 AD and b) how they even got to 1138 AD. Even more confusing, and this part I just can’t look past because it makes zero sense according to the lore of the show:

Colony Sarff is presumably using a Dalek ship to go around the universe looking for the Doctor. This would mean the ship has no time travel, because the Daleks only manage to temporal shift to a random place or end up somewhere by accident (or make pig people and human Daleks). So, we are now left to wonder how Colony Sarff a) time traveled backwards and b) time traveled forward without the use of time travel (vortex manipulators only work on the person who is wearing one). And this is important, because Davros is assumed to be dying in 2015 AD (Clara is the same age as the previous season and is a schoolteacher, so it matches the timeline, which at most could only be off a couple of years). So they now need to go forward to 2015 AD. None of this is ever explained, and we are still left to assume the Daleks don’t have time travel because Missy herself said so at the end of the episode.

So Moffat, if you read this, I would appreciate some clarity.

Luckily, the rest of the episode is pretty good.

Yeah, so, that was a thing

Yeah, so, that was a thing

We end up back at the hospital where Davros is, Clara and Missy are kept in waiting as the Doctor confronts Davros, who recognizes the face the Doctor currently has, as it’s the one that he saw all those years ago during the war. This part was pretty great, as it brought in Classic Who moments and tied them all together with the current show and it brought back the drama and seriousness of the opening scene of the episode. Then the big reveal. They’re not on a medical ship as originally assumed, but rather, on Skaro. And not just Skaro, but one that has been rebuilt since the war.

In the final moments, Missy and Clara are left to perish at the hands (figuratively speaking) of the Daleks, as they then turn their attention toward blowing up the TARDIS.

All very heavy stuff and all very good. The time travel still is an issue with Moffat, but I like where this story is going. It’s big and ambitious and brings in the lore of the show. I loved the performances of the entire cast. Each character really hit their stride in this one and the closing minutes had me on the edge of my seat, waiting for more. While I enjoyed last season, it felt like it was lacking something, and even though this is only the first episode of this season, I have a feeling it’s going to provide what I was looking for.

I for one cannot wait for next Saturday (well, Sunday, I think I’ll be doing Halloween type things already on Saturday at a haunted asylum, also a good idea for a Doctor Who story), and I am fully on board for this season. Yes, there was some bad, but overall, I want to see what happens next, how will Clara and Missy be saved, how with the TARDIS be saved, how will the Doctor get out of this one? So I’ll leave you with the trailer for next week’s story, “The Witch’s Familiar.”

“Last Christmas” pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t expect much after the previous Christmas episode, but luckily I was proven wrong. Moffat hit his stride with this one. Sure there are some borrowed elements from Inception and Alien, but Moffat successfully makes them his own. I don’t have any glaring negatives to reflect on, instead here’s a highly positive look at a well written story.

SPOILER WARNING AHEAD

Continuing from series 8, the Doctor and Clara lied to each other and went their separate ways. Now they come back together and soon enough the Doctor brings up Danny (he doesn’t know Danny isn’t alive) and they reveal to each other how the lied to make each other happy (which

It makes sense, no really, it does

It makes sense, no really, it does

of course didn’t work out). All the while there is a real life Santa Clause. Hold on, what, a real Santa? Yes. It sounds ridiculous and for the majority of the episode I cringed at it, but then it all made sense and was very cleverly done. See, the main enemy is a species called Dream Crabs, and they essentially grab on your face (think facehugger from Alien, which they also said in the episode), put you to sleep, dig under your skin, and start to eat your brain. All the while you’re put into a dream state, and the only way to live is to become self aware and wake up from the dream, forcing the crabs off your face and killing them. Back to the story.

The story starts with Santa landing on Clara’s roof and she goes up to see what’s going on. She can’t believe what she’s seeing and then the Doctor appears and comes to take Clara away. They end up on a scientific base at the North Pole where they discover the previously mentioned Crabs. The scientific team comes to see what the Doctor and Clara are doing there when they get ambushed by Crabs and Santa comes busting in to the rescue. This is where things get cool. See, at this point they are in a dream state. The ambush actually resulted in them all being taken over by the Crabs and the hallucinated Santa. What’s more, Clara then goes into a further dream state as another Crab grabs on to her and the Doctor goes in to save her. This dream is about her and Danny. She dreams the perfect Christmas where he is still alive, which is what the Crabs do to make it so the person they take over doesn’t want to wake up. But the Doctor goes under the influence of a Crab and enters Clara’s dream, whereupon he and Danny convince Clara to wake up. Surprisingly, this was one of Danny’s better appearances, as it was one of his more human moments rather than his typical Jiminy Cricket-esque inspirational line moments.

Once they depart that dream they realize they’re still in a dream and after a while they get out of that as well, only to be in a supposed final dream state (these Crabs are tricky to say the least). This time Santa comes back to save the day, and they fly away on his sleigh. As they’re flying over London(?), Santa gives the Doctor the reigns to the sleigh. This is when the episode takes a cool turn: the Doctor who has been serious most of series 8 takes the reigns of Santa’s sleigh! Once he gets accustomed to it he stands up with a big smile on his face, yelling back in excitement to the people behind him. As they’re flying the rest of the people (the science crew) gain their memories back and return to their waking bodies, which for one woman was actually kind of sad because she forgot her actual body is confined to a wheelchair.

doctor-who-santa-capaldiThe Doctor returned to his body, after the science crew all returned, and went right to the TARDIS to get the Crab off Clara because she was hesitant to return to a world without Danny. When he gets to Clara he removes the Crab (it took him a while to figure out how to safely remove it, which is why he couldn’t do this in the dream), except the Crab latched on to Clara in the future (I believe she said 62 years in the future). In her living room, Clara explains how she never married despite proposals nobody could stand up to Danny or the Doctor (a tired theme but still worked decently here since he left her for 62 years). Because this Doctor doesn’t express his emotions as much as the 1oth, it was really nice when Clara asked if he really doesn’t see her as old and he basically says she can never be old to him. You can tell he adamantly feels bad for leaving her and that she truly is his best friend. It’s difficult to explain the little things they do in this scene, but by the end it becomes a classic scene likely to be remembered for years to come.

That could have all been enough, but that turned out to be the final dream state (after all, how was Santa originally on Clara’s roof?), and when the Doctor woke one more time he went to save Clara again, except this time she’s young Clara. In an expression of excitement and happiness I have never seen from Capaldi’s Doctor, he anxiously asks Clara to come back traveling with him. Of course she says yes and while I originally didn’t care if she came back or not, I’m glad she’s there for the Doctor and they deserve each other. It reminds me of the end of “Deep Breathe,” when Clara and the Doctor really started their new adventure together to now, when they can’t imagine not traveling with each other. I really have no idea how Clara will eventually depart, but it has to really be something, because her near departure was better than the actual departures of Amy, Rory, and River.

I can only hope series 9 has the same quality of writing as this episode does. It seems Moffat is either spot on or completely misses the mark, but for now he’s the former and it definitely was a redemption over last year’s mess of a Christmas episode. I feel Moffat is at his best when he writes intimate character moments and puts aside some over-the-top arc. The story also allowed for the Doctor and Clara to take center stage, whereas series 8 often had issues with who the main character was; they’re great together and I nearly forgot that. As an added bonus, Moffat made Santa’s existence actually make sense within the confines of the rules set forth in the story.

Despite being one part Inception and one part Alien, “Last Christmas” turned out to be a truly heartfelt story about regrets, relationships, and friendship.

 

Here we are, nearing the end of series 8 with “Dark Water,” the first part of this series two part finale. I don’t know where to begin so let’s jump right in.

SPOILERS AHEAD

There are many things I want to cover about “Dark Water,” so let’s start small. Essentially, the story can be summed up that when you die your mind is uploaded into a computer mainframe (or the Gallifreyan equivalent) and your mind can live out the rest of its life, or rather death, there. In the meantime, your body is stored in a tank of dark water. Dark doctor who cybermenwater is a type of liquid that makes inorganic material invisible, so you can only see the organic material beneath or around it. This is used to hide the fact that each dead body is stored inside a Cyberman. Why this is being hid I don’t exactly know, since the great big complex they are being held in is apparently under a cathedral in England, where there must be a ton of room not paid attention to by the city council of the city they are in. Nobody really goes down there, ever it seems, so why hide anything? Aren’t dead bodies sitting on chairs in a water tank strange enough? Who knows, I’m assuming it’s just a convenient way to draw out the plot until the Doctor (and viewers) figure out what is going on. Which occurs towards the end as the water in the tanks is drained and the Cybermen make their way to the city streets, whereupon all the civilians walking don’t seem to care much and forget this happened not to long ago in series 2.

Honestly, it’s not the worst setup for a Cybermen invasion since the episode didn’t waste too much time on the actual Cybermen part of it and if it weren’t for the BBC releasing the final scene from the episode about a week before it aired it would have been a better reveal. But as it stands the BBC released a hefty spoiler.

But wait, how did we even end up at the dead people tanks in the first place? Well, Clara’s talking to Danny in the beginning of the episode, tells him she loves him and then Danny gets hit by a car and dies and goes to the Nethersphere (aka, is uploaded to the computer). So she and the Doctor go and search for Danny. Not before Clara tries to knock out the Doctor and bring him to a volcano and threaten to destroy the TARDIS keys if he doesn’t change Danny’s fate and rescue him. This actually happened and she actually threw the keys into the volcano, except instead of sleeping patches she picks up waking dream patches and the Doctor made sure she would use them on herself. This whole scene was very out of character for Clara. Sure, she was grieving, I get that. But to want to completely hold the Doctor in that position and believe she was destroying the TARDIS keys felt forced and awkward. Yes, there was a nice scene after that in which the Doctor told her he cares for her so much that he would not just leave her even after she wanted to betray him, but the lead up to it was out of place. So then they go off to find Danny.

We finally get Danny’s back story, and it’s actually not bad. He ended up accidentally killing a child when he was a soldier, and it makes more sense now why he’s so protective of the kids at school. Still, he’s not exactly the most dynamic character, and his death in the beginning didn’t affect me on an emotional level and was a clear setup for the rest of the episode. Right, let’s get to the elephant in the room: Missy.

doctor who promoMissy, as we know, has been an arc through series 8. She occasionally shows up to collect dead people, spy on the Doctor, and spy on Clara. Nothing overly exciting, but she’s there and Moffat wanted us to know she’s important. Cool, I was digging it. Sure, putting her in the first episode was a little rushed, but it got the ball rolling. Then the ball must have ran out of air toward the halfway mark and somewhere toward the end found an air pump, leading us to now. Missy is in charge of the Nethersphere and the catacombs under the cathedral. She’s the one building a massive army of Cybermen, which is pretty cool and makes more sense than some previous Cybermen stories. When the Doctor and Clara first meet Missy she pretends to be a robot programmed to attend to the dead and the catacombs. She gives the Doctor the initial greeting for being in the catacombs (I forget the words she used to describe it) which amounted to pinning the Doctor to the wall, making out with him, and kissing him on the nose three times. Strange, but at the time she was supposedly a robot, so perhaps a malfunctioning one. Once the Doctor confronts Missy again he finds out she’s in charge of everything. She’s the Time Lady he left behind years ago. Then, in the final minutes we find out who she is.

Missy, short for Mistress, is the Master.

Yes, Missy is the Master. I have a major issue with this: the only reason the Master is a woman is because they could show her throughout the series and not have everyone know it’s the Master. The only problem is, the Doctor just met Missy, so it’s not like the main character was also trying to figure it out all along, it was just us. The Master being female doesn’t do anything for the actual story other than to create a reveal for the sake of having a reveal and saying how clever the writing was. Now, I understand the Master was a snake before and took over a human body, had a Terminator-esque chase scene, and did a bunch of campy things in the TV movie during the 90s, but this isn’t supposed to be that, except it feels like it.

First, apparently the Master is in love with the Doctor, which is news to me. I’m sorry, I don’t see Roger Delgado (the original Master) being in love with the Doctor, wanting to pin him against a wall and make out. Nor do I see John Simm’s Master doing that either. Second, the Doctor did not leave the Master for dead last they met, but Moffat apparently forgot that. I’m all for strong women characters, which is why I’ve been wanting Romana to return since 2005 and why my favorite shows include Orphan Black, Downton Abbey, and Once Upon a Time. My issue here is Missy doesn’t serve any purpose other than shock value. This could have easily been a male Master and the exact same story could have occurred. In Classic Who (note, they love to say how long the show has been going for) there were Time Lords and Time Ladies. Now they can be either, which makes it all very confusing and without an entire series dedicated to it, Moffat is flying off the top of his head with how the Master should act now that he’s a woman.

I didn’t have high hopes for the Missy reveal because Moffat has a track record of being awful at his reveals, but this has a lifelong fan of the show questioning whether or not he will continue to watch after series 8 if Moffat is still around. It just picks up 50 years of canon, and with no care in the world, throws it on its head. I was all set to get a new doctor claracharacter, but no, it’s the same old Master except now a woman.

So after 40+ minutes of “Dark Water” all I was left with was thinking a) why did they need all that time for what could have essentially been 15 minutes of setup and b) why can’t Moffat just write a story without trying to prove how clever he is? You may also be thinking I haven’t talked much about the Doctor. Well, unfortunately he was about as useless as can be the majority of the time. He literally existed to bring the viewer from point to point. I wouldn’t be surprised if after all was said and done, Clara and Danny, again, had more airtime than the Doctor.

I just want to note, if you’ve been reading my reviews throughout series 8 you’ll know I really enjoyed the first half and most of the second half of the series, which is why it’s so disappointing to write another Moffat finale is starting to disappoint me.

Next week we have the final episode of series 8, “Death in Heaven.” I’m really hoping I can watch it, look back on this review and go “why was I so down and out about ‘Dark Water,’ it set up an awesome finale.” At least that’s what I can hope for, until then here’s a little trailer that seems to have the clips from the “Dark Water” trailer in a different order:

 

What do you get when you mix the 12th Doctor with Robin Hood?  A really great time, that’s what.

I’ll be the first to admit I had reservations about Robot of Sherwood (note, there is more than one robot, so Robots would have been more appropriate).  The first two episodes have been dark, especially Into the Dalek.  The Doctor has been darker, more sarcastic, and not really one for over-the-top type humor.  The preview clips for this week’s episode gave off a vibe that could linger too much in the over-the-top silly area.  However, that has proven to not be the case.

SPOILER WARNING – THERE ARE SPOILERS AND YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Right, so the Doctor asks Clara where she wants to go and she says she want sot meet Robin Hood, who the Doctor quickly points out is not real but just to please Clara, he takes her where Robin Hood is told to be in all the legends.  Sure enough they arrive and are suddenly greeted by the man himself.  This Robin Hood is largely what you would expect

from him: energetic, optimistic, upbeat, always laughing, and having an overall merry time.  Throughout the course of the episode we learn there is more to him than what first appears, and the happy face partly acts as a way to hide from the past.  So, while Hood plays the role of the legend, he ultimately is just a man.  This continues the theme of the Doctor trying to figure out if he’s a good man or really just what sort of a man he is in general.  Which leads to a nice ending scene with the Doctor and Hood where Hood asks if he really is just remembered as a legend and forgotten as a man, and is good with being a legend.  Whereupon he tells the Doctor it isn’t bad being a legend, for it allows the people around them to strive to be something greater and that one day they will be the ones people remember.  This, of course, allows the Doctor to reflect on what he’s meant to his companions, and is likely why he wasn’t mad at Clara for telling his story.

The big concern I had this week was how Capaldi would be in a lighter episode.  I was ready to dismiss this as a filler, but it was more than that.  Allowing Capaldi to be lighter also allowed him to further expand the range of his Doctor.  He doesn’t do the silly humor of the 11th Doctor, but instead has a more subtle approach, much like the 3rd Doctor.  He’ll throw in quick little lines or have entertaining arguments/banter with characters, much as he did in a scene when he, Clara, and Hood were locked up in a jail cell.  The Doctor and Hood started arguing over who could die slower and eventually Clara told them to shut up and think of a plan, and they both claimed to have a plan.  Though, neither had a plan, which was clear when Clara made them explain their plans.  The best part here was when she told the Doctor not to include the sonic screwdriver in the plan.  Yes, it was because he was without the sonic at the time, but it was also a nice joke pointing out how the sonic became the easy out for every situation in series 7 and how it has already been used a lot less this series.

Actually, it's not as ridiculous as you may think

Actually, it’s not as ridiculous as you may think

I also enjoy how this Doctor is so sure of himself all the time and is proven wrong on several occasions.  He has this need to always be right, as if being wrong is a sign of weakness.  While darker, this Doctor is still vulnerable, he just tries to hide it in a different way.  This is one thing Moffat seems to have a good hold on, as the 11th Doctor also felt old, tired, and vulnerable despite being played by Matt Smith.  It was great seeing Capaldi come to terms with Robin Hood being a real man, not just a legend.

There was a story in case you’re wondering.  It was a fairly standard evil bad guy (redundant? sure, why not?) who gained control of a legion of robots from space and had an end goal of ruling Earth.  Nothing spectacular but it played out decently enough and had a nice Classic Who vibe to it with the castle setting, robots (Classic Who seemed to embrace robots and androids more than New Who), and story.  The robots actually had a pretty cool design both disguised as knights and with their helmets off.

Importantly, the Doctor checked the database in the robots ship and found out they were looking for The Promise Land (I believe that’s what it said, will re-watch to confirm).  This somehow links back to Missy, who was missing from this episode, which is fine, too much of her would likely result in lack of mystery and interest.  The arc so far reminds me of series 5 and the cracks, which is awesome considering series 5 remains my favorite since the show came back in 2005.

My only real issue is the lack of Danny Pink.  I’m curious to see where his story will go and what happened in his past as a soldier.  But that will likely come soon enough, so no worries there.

Overall, Robot of Sherwood  isn’t going to go down as an all time classic, but it’s a fun episode which I will not be opposed to watching again.

Next week looks to get darker again, with this trailer for Listen:

It’s finally here, the trailer for series 8 of Doctor Who.  I don’t want to go into what I think each little clip is from, as that could a) go on far too long b) probably be wrong and c) other sites are probably doing that much better than me.  However, I will say I’m pleased with the trailer, actually very pleased with it.

There has been a ton of talk about Peter Capaldi being a rebel Time Lord, which rebel is usually associated with teenage angst and going against authority.  But in the trailer he is calm and questions his past decisions.  He does this in a calm voice, not overreacting, even when he tells Clara they are going “into darkness” (umm, Moffat, were you casually watching Star Trek when watching this or just hanging out with Benedict?).  The ending of the trailer is a solemn shot of the Doctor in Clara in the TARDIS with the Doctor asking what type of man he is, which for whatever reason gave me a sort of fourth Doctor vibe.  No doubt this season will deal with the Doctor doing some major self reflecting, and with any luck will also follow through with the set up from the 50th and have him start his search for Gallifrey.  I’m also hoping at some point during his reflection they explain Jenny, Strax, and Vastra.  Not that I like them but because they really make very little sense and since they’re going to be in series 8 they may as well get some sort of back story.

Continuing the Classic-Who vibe is a T-Rex (not quite sure why we have dinosaurs again, they weren’t good at all in series 7) storming through a city (third Doctor anyone?) and a robot around the forty three second mark that looks like it could fit right into the Classic era.  Of course the Daleks are back because why not spend another episode on them?  The problem is they’re far too one dimensional to be interesting and we saw how turning them human worked out, but I suppose we’ll wait and see how it turns out.  Not related to the the characters, but as I’m watching this trailer again, I have to say, I really love some of the retro feeling music in the beginning of it, you’ll know what I mean when you hear it.

Overall, the trailer is setting up for a more drama filled series 8, which I’m looking forward to.  Matt Smith was really great but they ended up making him too goofy and annoying towards the end (particularly the first part of series 7).  His serious moments were always nice but there were far too few of them.  I’m hoping Capaldi has the opportunity to not only be more serious but actually show off the Doctor’s intelligence instead of waving around his screwdriver to save the day.  Let the Doctor be the smartest one in the room again and/or get some more smart characters on the show who can keep up with him, or at least attempt to keep up with him, intellectually.

There were only a few characters shown, so I’m thinking they kept a lot of the second half of the season and finale out of this (at least judging by the finale filming pics I saw but won’t post due to spoilers, this seems to be the case), which would be a good move, I’d like it to be a surprise.  The trailer is pretty atmospheric and more solemn than dark, which should make for an interesting change.  I’m still not on board with the Doctor being this evil being Moffat has him out to be, but seeing as there’s nothing I can do to change that I will simply go with it and see where the writing takes me.

Overall, despite my negativity about Moffat, he did do series 5, which is my favorite since the show came back, and with a new Doctor I think I’m going to maintain optimism.  It’s an opportunity to start over and get rid of all the past threads that went nowhere.  Kick of the search for Gallifrey or some other grand adventure.  Make it like a mini-series even, have one continuing story.  Do something awesome.  Moffat, stop saying how brilliant you are and let the writing do the talking for you.

Doctor Who  will be returning August 23rd, and I believe it will be shown at the same time on BBC and BBC America.  The episode goes by the title of  “Deep Breath” and they say it will be feature length, what that means I have no idea.

 

Man, it takes a certain type of smug to say the things Steven Moffat says about his writing on Doctor Who.  In his latest stream of words he goes on to explain how the Doctor doesn’t die at Trenzalore but it’s all good and series 7 can still happen.  Here’s the article, you can read it if you want to.  Though, I think I’ll quickly share his quote just to get it

JK... apparently

JK… apparently

out of the way (note, all credit for the quote goes to the already mentioned article):

“THE DOCTOR: Changing time is tricky. It’s a bit like a detective story: so as long there isn’t an actual body, you’ve got a certain amount of wiggle room – for instance, if the body has, rather conveniently, been burned on a boat in Utah. Here’s the thing: I can change the future so long as the future has not already been established as part of my own past. I can’t rescue Amy and Rory because I already know that I didn’t.”

“But what do I know about Trenzalore? There’s a big monument that looks very like my Tardis. There’s a temporal fissure leading to my timeline. Maybe it’s my grave. Maybe, one day, it’s my burial ground. Maybe it is something else entirely, and we got it all wrong. Don’t know. Don’t plan to find out for as long as possible. The main thing is, Clara still jumped into my time stream, and ended up helping me through all of my life. All that is established, unchanged – but there’s wiggle room!”

Right, that literally cleared nothing up at all.  This still doesn’t clear up why he couldn’t go back and hang out with Amy and Rory or simply drop them back off in that time period after some more traveling with them and then they can still die there.  Speaking of his TARDIS grave, we have another glaring issue.  If you recall, his TARDIS grave had a crack in the window, which we are shown is due to the window cracking when he crashes on Trenzalore.  Cool, except the very next episode there is no crack, so OK, just another continuity issue to throw in the mix.  More importantly, we do know it’s his grave, you know how we know it?  It has been the exact same foreboding thread since series 6.  He lets us know in the last episode of series 7 that he’s buried there because of a war that he dies in on Trenzalore.  He tells Tennant that in the 50th anniversary.  He makes it a point to not start a war there and try to change time in the Christmas episode.  But by changing time his entire future is changed and there’s no time stream for Clara to jump in and be the impossible girl.

Well Moffat, if you “got it all wrong” as you say, then what was the point of series 7?  Perhaps he realized he has no idea how to write Doctor Who and time travel.  He’s basically saying he has no idea and is going to try his hardest to avoid it by not “plan[ing] to find out for as long as possible.”  The last part about Clara jumping in just can’t happen in the show.  What a writer says in one interview isn’t part of the show, it’s just an idea, or in Moffat’s case, serious back tracking after realizing he made an entire series impossible.  Seriously, am I now expected to just go and say, oh yeah, the Doctor, the character who up until the past two series has always relied on his intellect (not his magic wand, I mean screw driver to cover up lazy writing) to figure things out all of a sudden has been wrong about himself?  Come on, that’s just lame.  The whole part about being able to change the future if it hasn’t happened in the Doctor’s past makes no sense.  If he never dies at Trenzalore then there’s never a time stream, simple as that, it really is that simple but Moffat just doesn’t get it and continues to expect us all to blindly follow his nonsense.

I leave you now with what Moffat told me, written in the same style as Moffat’s quote:

“MOFFAT: I have no idea how to write a time travel show. I say things and write things and if they make sense awesome if not, well who the hell cares, I’m still getting paid to write nonsense and nobody seems to care much so screw it, I’ll do this as long as I can. Sure, over five seasons of Fringe they managed to write a show with multiple time lines and dimensions and it all made sense but whatever. Yeah, I know series 7 is impossible now and I wasted your time on Dinosaurs on a Fraking Spaceship and making it a point for Amy to tell the Doctor how he doesn’t kill people even though he blew up innocent people in The Power of Three, but hey, I’ll just continue with my smug attitude and keep telling everyone how clever I am.”

**Note, if my quote sounds familiar it’s because I also used it on The Doctor Who Hub page on Facebook, which I highly suggest following.

Alright, so I’m just going to say it, Steven Moffat has no clue how to write Doctor Who.  Why am I saying this?  Well, anyone who has followed my blog may know I have found many faults with is writing.  Most recently, this past Christmas special made all of series 7 literally impossible.

But why does that matter?  Now we are stuck with incredibly large plot holes because why in the universe is Clara even a companion now?  Seriously, she’s no longer the impossible girl so the Doctor has no reason to go

Continuity?  I'm sorry, I've never heard of it, what is it?

Continuity? I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of it, is it new?

after her since she never walked into his time stream since he didn’t die at Trenzalore and in fact he prevented Trenzalore from ever burning or having a massive war.  I’m going to try and ignore this was a giant theme for a while now with the Doctor having to die there, but whatever, as we know, Moffat doesn’t care.

Now he goes and says: “I think people have come to think a plot hole is something which isn’t explained on screen. A plot hole is actually something that can’t be explained. Sometimes you expect the audience to put two and two together for themselves. For Sherlock, and indeed Doctor Who, I’ve always made the assumption that the audience is clever.”

Source for above quote

What does this do?  Basically, he’s going on again about how almighty and clever he is and if the audience points out any error with his writing it is the viewer’s fault for being incapable of accepting his lack of sense and continuity.  I don’t know about you, but I find this really offensive, as if he simply cannot admit he messed up and insists on putting the blame on everyone but himself.  I’m sorry, but apparently it’s no big deal to make every Sontaran a complete idiot or to somehow have a lone Silurian wake up and become a crime fighter who just happens to marry some random girl off the street and we just sit and say, oh yeah, that totally makes sense going off the last 50 years of the show’s history, the Doctor’s always having a good laugh with a Sontaran.

Yes, time travel is likely difficult to work with, but let’s take a step back.  Back to the Future deals with all sorts of time travel and paradoxes but it always makes sense how it is explained and the continuity is solid.  Fringe dealt with alternate universes, alternative timelines, alternate universes in alternate timelines, and multiple alternate futures as well as paradoxes throughout.  However, unlike Doctor Who, Fringe writers took the time to make sure everything was laid out and made sense, even bringing back little things throughout past seasons to be really important things in the final season.

But how wrong is Moffat in saying these things?  I enjoy surfing the internet, reading Doctor Who articles (believe it or not I really do love Doctor Who and am really pleased with Peter Capaldi coming to be the 12th or 14th or whatever number Doctor and Clara is absolutely fantastic, she just needs more consistent writing, she was all over the place a lot of series 7, but her sassy/flirty personality is great) and I have found far too many people saying to just accept it, Doctor Who isn’t supposed to make sense, it’s alright, just go with it.  I’m sorry, but I dare you to find me any other show with fans that say to just go with it, sure it may not make sense, but whatever.  I’m actually really surprised to see this with fans of the show, most sci-fi fans I know super analyze their show of choice, picking it apart and getting mad/annoyed at bad writing.  But yet, Moffat has managed to make a whole series impossible and the fan base seems split between caring and not caring.

I’m fine with some things being left up the imagination, but when a major plot point or character or paradox is introduced, you kind of have to explain it, because if not, what was the point of introducing it in the first place?  That’s the problem with Moffat.  He does things in the show and eventually there’s no reason to care about them anymore.  River saying “hello sweetie” every five minutes got old as did her character.  Rory being killed every other episode turned into endless tedium.  The whole deal with the Doctor being the most evil being in all of creation got old as soon as it was said and kept being dragged out for three series.  Literally every episode between “The Bells of Saint John” and “The Name of the Doctor” had nothing to do with the impossible girl story arc or The Great Intelligence, so I was left wondering what I was watching and not caring overly much (which was kind of a shame since there were some pretty good episodes in there).

My expectations are very low for Moffat as he does his same old talk but never proves himself with his writing.  Other writers you never hear a word from, they just let the writing do the talking.  Maybe he should take a step back and read his own scripts before going off on his high horse about how inept the fans are at understanding a story.