The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 3 – “Robot of Sherwood” – Doesn’t Hit The Mark

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“Robot of Sherwood” isn’t some of Mark Gatiss’s best writing. It has good moments, great moments in fact…but the bad moments really bring it down. I’ll get into the details in the assessment.

“Robot of Sherwood” as stated above was written by Mark Gatiss and Directed by Paul Murphy. It aired today, September 6th, 2014 and is the 3rd episode of the 8th Series.

The story begins with Clara wanting to see Robin Hood to see if the legend exists as the Doctor does not believe in him. When they arrive in Sherwood Forest they find him and are taken in by him and his Merry Men. We are soon introduced to the threat of the Sheriff of Nottingham who is using Robots to steal all gold from the populace and kill the King. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Clara – This is a great Clara episode, again I ask why we couldn’t have got this in Series 7. We learn that Clara loves Robin Hood and has since she was little, which makes sense we see her reading before the Doctor asks her where she wants to go, and being a teacher she’d be sharing this story with her students. Her relationship to Robin in this is fantastic and we see her put her trust in him when she tells him the Doctor’s backstory. She is also the one who believes in the Legend as folks like Amy believed in the legend of the Doctor. The parallels are great when they are revealed through Clara.

Okay/Good: Robin Hood – Tom Riley does okay as Robin Hood, much better than say Russell Crowe, but not as great as some of the others. He has some good moments with the Doctor and Clara though which make up for it. Part of it is I’m unsure if some of the awkward scenes are from bad writing on Gatiss’s part or Riley not being completely cut out for the part. It’s for this reason I have the okay part.

The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – We get the backstory of the Doctor and see him use his mind to defeat the Robots, but he isn’t given much to do and his rivalry with Robin Hood over Clara is childish. I hated it actually, he isn’t supposed to be the 11th Doctor who would pull crap like that, he’s supposed to be more mature. Worth it for the end though which was good and when we learn the Doctor’s motivations were much like Robin’s as he ran away from the wealthy corrupt Time Lord society to help the people of the Universe.

Con: The Robots and the Sheriff – The Sheriff’s motivations are only killing the King and becoming ruler, and the Robots have no motivation at all but to serve the Sheriff. The Doctor references the Robots being similar to the Half-Face Man and Clockwork droids who got sent back in time, but those guys got motivation even it was from doing their purpose of collecting parts and from it finding the idea of “Paradise.” The Sheriff is evil for the sake of evil and the actor who plays him isn’t good. These are the first dud baddies of the season.

Would I recommend this episode? It doesn’t do anything for the overall arc, but the reveal of the Doctor’s past which we’ve got from past Doctors was good, since I think a lot of people don’t realize why the Doctor first started running from Gallifrey in the first place. Jenna Coleman is amazing and this is her episode. The guest actor Tom Riley is okay, as is Capaldi but for Capaldi…this is his worst episode so far. He’s far too childish and Riley’s Robin Hood is far too idealistic. He doesn’t feel human at times even if he does have some good in how he’s played. I’d leave it up to you to watch it. If you don’t mind dud villains and want to know more about Clara, watch the episode. If not, you aren’t missing much here.

Final score for this episode is 6 / 10. Would be an average episode if not for the ending and Jenna Coleman carrying it.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 2 – “Into the Dalek” – Of Soldiers and the Soul of the Doctor

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“Into the Dalek” feels the like the sequel to “Dalek,” one of my favorite episodes back in Series 1 where a Dalek was changed by Rose’s DNA and the Doctor is forced to confront his PTSD from the Time War and his Dalek prejudice. I’ll get into more details in the assessment, suffice to say I was impressed though with this episode.

The episode was written by Steven Moffat and Phil Ford, and directed by Ben Wheatley.

The story involves the Doctor and Clara going inside a Dalek in order to help it, since it is the only good Dalek in the Universe. From here the story unfolds as more of Clara’s life at school is revealed and the story of the rebels fight against the Daleks and the Doctor’s relationship to his past and the Daleks.

WARNING – Spoilers ahead 

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The New Intro – Lots of clocks and time…the music also fits the theme of the show during the introductory credits. Also introducing us to Journey Blue (our face in the Resistance against the Daleks) by the Doctor saving her after she loses her brother and takes him to the injured Dalek is a great hook.

Danny Pink – I’m glad this guy is going to be a reoccurring character and possibly a new companion. The man is a soldier who is dealing with PSTD from the war he fought in and is Clara’s colleague. He loves reading and dislikes how everyone judges him before getting to know him. He has an awkward relationship with Clara as she brings up his past and jokes about him crying after killing people. Samuel Anderson brings a lot of depth to this role and I can’t wait to see more.

The Rebels – Whether it’s Uncle, Journey Blue or Gretchen, none of the named resistance get wasted. Uncle is there to help Journey through helping heal the Dalek (Rusty) and fighting the enemy Daleks when they board the ship. Gretchen sacrafices herself to help the Rusty find his soul through Clara and the Doctor’s help and Journey Blue defends and fights for them all the way, as well as making the choice to trust the Doctor. They are a great group of characters.

Inside Rusty – From the anti-bodies that are like tiny Dalek eye sockets, to the mixture of metal and organic…the inside of the Dalek is done well and really creatively. It’s a shame “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” didn’t receive this much effort and creative thought.

Rusty – Rusty is the Dalek who Clara, Gretchen, Journey Blue and the Doctor are shrunk to go inside of in order to help it heal. He is the Dalek who found beauty in life and with it an extreme hatred for the Daleks. After he is healed he represses his memories and summons the Daleks to aid him until Clara, Gretchen, The Doctor and Journey help it get the memories it repressed back. The Doctor than tries to get it beyond hatred of it’s own kind but cannot find anything but hate for the Daleks in the Doctor’s mind so embraces it to defend the rebels before going back to continue the hunt against the Daleks.

Missy – Appears again in “Heaven: after Gretchen sacrifices herself. I’m curious where this is going, so far she’s collecting characters…for what purpose remains to be seen.

Clara – Get’s fleshed out as a person…we see her relationship to her colleagues and students and why she is a teacher. She helps teach the Doctor to look beyond his ego and his limited scope of physical healing and is the one who gives the Doctor the idea of trying to change Rusty back to good through his memories and to make him truly good. She’s honest with the Doctor and more than a plot device, I love it. Why couldn’t we have got this Clara last season? Jenna Coleman deserved this great level of writing much earlier.

The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – The 12th Doctor is once again fantastic. We see how his ego and prejudice blind him to the fact that Rusty (the name he gives the Dalek) beauty and he scoffed at it…and when he does get over his assumption it is too late as he has held hatred for all Daleks for so long that Rusty once more latches on to that and becomes the War Doctor of old. He is now a weapon against his people living in self hatred…much like the Tenth Doctor, the War Doctor and the Ninth Doctor to different degrees. It is tragic and fits the theme of the season. Because of this the Doctor doesn’t want soldiers with him, he realized he still carries the war still so close and doesn’t want to have to kill again. Capaldi shows the layers of this, and still having a sense of humor along the way.

Okay: The Daleks – The Daleks are there as a force of nature, but there is nothing to show them as unique, you can’t even tell command positions…they are all just golden. Still an awesome threat in this episode but rank is part of what made the Daleks unique. There wasn’t enough, “I OBEY.”

Con: The Doctor’s Pep Talk to Rusty – It was a great pep talk but how it was directed was kind of awkward. The Doctor is staring right at us, which was meant to be dramatic, but after a time kind of comes off as funny.

Boyfriend – Once again annoying. Stop telling us that Clara has a crush on Danny and that it might be mutual and let it unfold on it’s own. Good God, The Tenth Doctor and Rose had more subtlety.

This episode is worth watching for sure. One of the better Dalek Episodes and a good exploration of the Doctor and Clara’s characters. I’m hoping we see more of the Daleks and Rusty and that Missy isn’t just dropped. Stop having the myseterious woman appear unless she actually gets fleshed out. Madam Kovarian didn’t get any fleshing out and could have been an amazing antagonist because of the mysterious set-up. Moffat you need more than mystery, please deliver this season. This was an amazing episode though and one of my favorites.

Final Score is 9.6 / 10

 

 

12 Days of Doctors – The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 1 – “Deep Breath” – Finding the Doctor

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We end 12 Days of Doctors with “Deep Breath” the first adventure of the 12th Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. So, how did it hold up? I’ll go into that in the review, but the short version…I was inspired and impressed. It’s nice to see Moffat back in form after the terriblish “Time of the Doctor.”

Speaking of which, this episode was written by Steven Moffat who is still the current showrunner, much like Davies was through the 9th and 10th Doctor. Ben Wheatley directed the episode and Nikki Wilson produced it.

This will be a SPOILER review, so warning. It is hard to talk about the Doctor and characters without giving away what happens.

The story begins with the TARDIS being swallowed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex and accidentally transporting it to Victorian England where the story takes place. The 12th Doctor has just went through being given new regenerations and is not all there, and Clara his companion doesn’t know what to make of him. From here the story unfolds as Vastra and her Paternoster Gang (Strax and Jenny) try to solve why people have been exploding all over town after the Tyrannasaurus Rex is exploded too, all while trying to help the new Doctor find his bearing and stop the crimes.

Deep Breath

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – Peter Capaldi is fantastic in this role. His Doctor has the manic and egotistical without being hurtful and cruel. You see his heart shine through on multiple occasions, such as mourning the Tyrannosaurus Rex that was killed and his connecting with Clara over the course of the episode. He’s the Doctor who was aware he was young and is also aware that he’s cheated. “I’ve made mistakes, it’s time I start correcting them.” This sums up the 12th Doctor in a nutshell and he is brilliant. Peter Capaldi owns this role and is well deserving of the mantel of the Doctor. Also, he loves dinosaurs.

Clara – Clara is someone who for much of this series has existed as a meme and some of the worst of Steven Moffat’s writing. She’s “The Impossible Girl” whose destiny it is to save the Doctor. That isn’t really a character, or at least not a human one…that is the idea of a character. We finally get to see a Clara that isn’t all whimsical and actually feels like a human being and companion! At one point she crosses into a room where she feels overwhelmed and where Clockwork Droids are around her…you see her as a teacher (which wasn’t established until “Day of the Doctor” really) and her being overwhelmed. We also see her questioning what her relationship is to the Doctor and what it means…and she does great! I can genuinely say I like Clara after this episode, when before there wasn’t much to like or dislike.

Paternoster Gang

The Paternoster Gang – I love this group. Mostly because Vastra and Jenny are such a great couple. They were actually there to show what loving someone who isn’t human is like since Clara was dealing with the fact that Eleven might have felt for her in that way (which the 12th Doctor apologizes for). Vastra is also there in an advising role and she is fantastic! She is one of my all time favorite characters in “Doctor Who” and her story has been handled much better than how Harknesses was butchered in “Torchwood.” All of them have roles, except for Strax who is a good fighter but mostly comic relief, honestly he isn’t needed. At one point we even see them ready to take Clara onto the Team after the Doctor has disappeared. It is quite cool and they have a great character arc. They grow into accepting Clara and helping her accept the new Doctor. The companionship and marriage between Vastra and Jenny is contrasted between the friendship and companionship between The Doctor and Clara. They have a great standoff against the Clockwork Droids too near the end.

The Half-Face Man – Is the leader of the Clock Work Droids (think the episode “Girl in the Fire Place” also written by Moffat) who are trying to fix their ship and themselves and reach Paradise. They do this buy capturing humans and taking their organs, they also do this to the Tyrannosaurus Rex to help repair their ship. He is a great baddy is creepy as he uses his restaraunt as a front and is human, he speaks as an individual and is compelling enough that your left wondering if the Doctor convinced him to take his life since he knew what he was doing was wrong to reach Paradise. I like that. We later see him speaking to a mysterious Mary Poppins lady in “Paradise” who calls herself the Doctor’s girlfriend. It is cool and continues the mysterious creepiness of the episode. I liked him as a bad guy, he was a robot doing everything to fulfill his orders to repair the ship but was seeking paradise because of the humanity he’d implanted into himself. It was very well done.

Okay: The Music – The music is alright, not nearly as memorable as “The Eleventh Hour” soundtrack though. It was more neutral in regards to this new series.

The 11th Doctor Calls Clara – I honestly didn’t know what to think of this. How would Eleven know he’d become Twelve? Did he remember “Day of the Doctor?” This part was confusing, but touching…but because of the confusing bit, can’t really call it a pro.

Con: Clara and the Boyfriend – This point was brought up way too much, from Clara saying that Vastra is jealous of her for having the gall to think she liked the Doctor as lover (When Vastra is questioning her on why she is being so standoffish to the Doctor), to the 12th Doctor saying “Is your boyfriend calling?” When she gets a call from the Eleventh Doctor at Trenzalore….it was annoying. We get it, you don’t need to bring it up all the freaking time. She wasn’t interested in the 11th Doctor and isn’t interested in anyone currently.

I highly recommend this episode. Definitely in the Top 3 First Doctor Adventures (which I’ll write my list rating them all together later). It is fun, the enemy is interesting, the Paternoster Gang is always fantastic, even in episodes that aren’t great and Clara is finally a good companion…Also Capaldi owns this role. It is worth it just to see his unique and fantastic take on the Doctor.

Final Score this episode is 9.3 / 10. Here is to hoping that the rest of Series 8 can hold up as well as this episode did. The 12th Doctor and Clara deserve a great season.

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