We are now 5 episodes in with the new season of Doctor Who and the new Doctor. There are some things that I am noticing about this season that I am really enjoying that I think works with the change in Doctor.
By this point we have gotten a good look at who Capaldi is as the Twelfth Doctor and personally I am really enjoying it. You can see my initial reaction to Capaldi from an earlier post. At the same time we have definitely gotten a deeper look at who Twelve is in these first few episodes.
The other piece that has been really nice is that I feel like we are finally getting to know Clara as a person instead of a mystery to be solved. The relationship between Clara and the Doctor has been so pronounced this season and I think is really helping to develop that character more. The episodes in general have been great because they are both stand-alone, but also with some overarching themes or plot elements. At the same time you could step in to any of the episodes and probably have a good idea what is happening. Doctor Who, so far, I think has been a great ride and personally I have really enjoyed all the episodes so far.
The Twelfth Doctor
As mentioned before I gave my initial reaction to Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor in an earlier post. I think over the next episodes, and they have expanded on his character even more. The Doctor feels more like a mad scientist in some respects, with the way he talks to himself, and with all the chalkboards around the TARDIS. The wheels in his mind seem to be constantly spinning and in a slightly different way than we have seen before, at least in the new Who.
There is still an inner child to the Doctor, but in many ways logic and reason win out over emotion. In Ten we got a Doctor who would apologize and feel so bad when bad things happened to people. In Capaldi we get a Doctor who sees that the time for tears is later and now it is time to solve the problem and keep moving forward. At times it can seem cold, but it is more of a calculation of what has to happen. Also, many of the deaths that are faced are something that cannot be helped because the Doctor often finds himself in dangerous situations.
Clara so far this season has been fantastic. I agree with everyone who says that her initial pseudo-introduction as a character was fantastic, but then we met the real character and it did not live up. She was a mystery to be solved as opposed to a character with a personality to be discovered. In some ways the emotion that she showed during the “Time of the Doctor” for Eleven never really felt genuine to me because I never got that connection between the two.
I feel like in these first few episodes they are mending that in so many ways. “Listen” offers a fantastic look at the relationship between Clara and the Doctor and how complicated it can be. In “Into the Dalek” when Twelve calls her his “carer,” she cares so I don’t have to. It really demonstrated the dynamic between the two of them. Clara gets upset with the Doctor and calls him out when he is acting like a child at times or stops caring when he might need to. The Clara that has been introduced in these episodes feels much more like the Clara we were introduced to originally in “Asylum of the Daleks”.
Something I have really appreciated with the beginning of the new season of Doctor Who is keeping the stories episodic. We have gotten hints at the bigger bad to come and some larger plots obviously on the horizon, but for the most part each episode is self-contained. At the same time they have definitely kept themes and certain plot elements as a continuous line throughout. The idea of Paradise, Clara dating, the Doctor with the chalkboards, there are things that I hope will come from all of these introductions, but do not drive the story forward.
You can get too disjointed with episodic runs, as can be seen in season 7 part I, but this is striking a nice balance between those elements. It will be interesting to see how they ramp up to introducing the larger plot or whether it is going to be a sudden shift in storytelling. I am excited to see where this season is going and it is definitely holding my interest and making me wonder where it is going.