Peter Capaldi Brings the Insult of Innocent Honesty in Eighth Series of Doctor Who

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Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series on DVD

If you're someone who likes their numbers in a nice, linear fashion, Doctor Who will give you headaches. The show in enjoying its fifty-first year. The latest season was "Series Eight."  Peter Capaldi plays the thirteenth regeneration of The Doctor, and yet is still referred to as the Twelfth Doctor. At least there's only one Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) -- unless you count that time she entered the center of the TARDIS and had her essence spread across time and space.

Clara is just getting used to the fact that her Gallifreyan companion has regenerated into an older appearing man -- a Scotsman, no less. Gone is the boyish man with the bowtie and the chin, replaced by a crotchety grandfather figure who has elements of almost all the Doctors before him: there's a lot of Hartnell, a good deal of Pertwee, some Troughton -- even some Tom Baker in this version of the Doctor. But anyone who thought there was a chance for romance between Clara and the Doctor will have those hopes dashed with this series.

Series Eight also addresses the confusion about the certainty of the future, already seen, in the face of present dangers. After all, how can a solar flare destroy the Earth today if they've seen the Earth so many times in the future? How can the moon be destroyed sixty years from now, when they've landed on it centuries later?

And how can Clara meet her great-grandson at the end of time, if the man she loves is destroyed by the Cybermen?

It's a very busy season for the Doctor -- he's barely getting used to his new body, and he tackles Daleks, Cybermen, and his oldest (and dearest?) enemy in short order. Oh yes, that's correct, you'll get to see...

Oh, hush, River. It's already been broadcast, so we'll let a few cats out of the bag.

Back in the day, DOCTOR WHO was a series where an adventure took several episodes to wrap up a story arc. "The Key to Time" is a shining example of one of these epic arcs. The modern day DOCTOR WHO series does the same, but in a far more subtle way. Each episode, with rare exception, is a standalone story, built on subplots that slowly develop over time. In the very first episode, "Deep Breath," we are left with the question at the climax of the episode: Who is Missy? It seems that the enigmatic Missy (portrayed by Michelle Gomez) has been introduced in this season, but while we havent' seen her, we've felt her influence over the Doctor ever since Clara Oswald "accidentally" rang up the TARDIS in "The Bells of Saint John." Her presence continues to be felt off and on throughout this season, culminating in the season finale, "Death in Heaven," which itself serves as a wonderful revisit with a beloved (and passed) DOCTOR WHO character, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. (I won't tell you how they did it, though.) The finale also serves as a clever springboard into the 2014 DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. (It also puts the kibosh on my hopes for the next companion for The Doctor, but that's definitely a spoiler.)

We also get introduced this season to Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), another teacher at Coal Hill with Clara, who develops into a romantic interest that is doomed to tragedy. Much of the latter half of the series involves Clara lying to Danny that she's no longer seeing The Doctor, and lying to The Doctor that Danny is fine with their adventures. This leads up to a dire confrontation between Clara and The Doctor which shows a side of Clara we've never seen before -- and a depth to The Doctor's caring we could never have expected, verging on Christlike.

 

 

Now, I'm going to do a little theorizing here on the subject of foreshadowing. With the advent of Missy, we have further, modern, clarification that a Time Lord can switch genders upon regeneration. Further, on two separate instances in this season, Clara declares herself to be The Doctor -- once in "Flat Line" as she takes on two-dimensional beings while The Doctor is trapped in a miniaturized TARDIS (watch for a train with the letters "A113" on it, a tribute perhaps to the Disney*Pixar team, who have done so much to bring the 2D into the 3D), and then later when facing down Cybermen as she talks them into capturing instead of killing her, by insisting she's a high-value capture. So, could it be that this could be pointing somewhere down the road to not only a female Doctor, but a Doctor who could be played by Jenna Coleman? (Hey, we have a comments section here -- use it!)

This series is filled to the brim with bonus features. There's a behind the scenes documentary that gets into the making of all twelve episodes. Then Peter Davison takes the viewers on a tour of time and space, taking interviews with Coleman, Capaldi, David Tennant, Steven Moffat and other Doctors from the past to discover what makes "The Ultimate Time Lord." This is a 45-minute feature, followed by another 45-minute feature as we search for the elements that make up "The Ultimate Companion." Finally, we have a music video from Foxes, "Don't Stop Me Know," which is the full-length version of the song the group performs in the episode "The Orient Express."

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0