We’ve come so far, that it feels like a lifetime ago that I sat down to watch the first episode of Doctor Who‘s ninth series, with that familiar mixture of excitement and trepidation; hoping against hope, but expecting to be disappointed.
Actually, that familiar disappointment hasn’t come. There haven’t been any out-and-out bad episodes, or even any mediocre ones. The odd one or two which hasn’t worked has been a noble failure, in that I could see what it was trying to get at, and it’s failure was not any real disgrace to the series, simply experiments that did not quite pay off.
And along the way, we have had a few episodes which weregenuine greats, up there with the likes of “Midnight”, “Blink” and even old greats like “The Genesis of the Daleks”.
The question now is whether the season finale can finish on that high note, or whether the dying chord will let the whole thing down.
I have always found Doctor Who Christmas specials to be a bit hit or miss. That’s probably a description you could apply to the series in general, but the required shoehorning of Christmas paraphernalia into the storyline tends to stretch the credibility that bit further.
David Tennant’s debut in “The Christmas Invasion” is probably the pinnacle of them, whilst offerings like “The Next Doctor” were no different than ordinary. And the likes of “The Snowmen” were just pretty bad.
And, it being Christmas, the viewership figures will be higher, and opinions will be divided. So this, humbly offered below, is mine.
The general trend of this, the first season of the Twelfth Doctor, has been one of improving confidence and writing getting gradually better. I started, and remain, a firm fan of Peter Capaldi in the leading role, but his settling down has been a little bumpy due to some initial writing-based clumsiness.
Since the sea-change episode “Listen”, that has turned around. The whole thing has a completely different feel to previous Doctors, but it is a welcome change. Still there is the mischevous twinkle in the Doctor’s eye, but it’s an older eye to start with. With “The Caretaker”, though, it seems we’re heading back to Earth (and back to school) for a character-based personal episode.
I have a feeling I’m going to be pretty alone in this opinion, but I don’t tend to get on brilliantly well with the “historical” episodes of Doctor Who. It seems a bit of an odd thing to say, of a show about a time-travelling alien, but there we go.
For every “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, we have to endure something as lazy as “The Shakespeare Code”. I’m not against exploring the rich tapestry of history, but simply popping up outdated dress and saying “Here we are! Ye olden days!” is a bit weak as story goes. It’s a touch “Downton Abbey”, which is not where I want my Doctor Who to be going.
So on that note, this week’s episode is the snigger-worthily named “Robot of Sherwood”; and out we pop at in medieval Sherwood Forest looking for Robin Hood.