Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Doctor Who, where I over-analyse each of the Doctors to find out which is best.
The way this is going to run is very simple: I take ten categories and give each Doctor points 1 to 10 along the way. Now some of this may seem familiar since I will be repeating myself, but I plan to have this be a be all and end all look at my favourite fictional character. So join me each week as work out which of the Doctors in my absolute favourite.
Now this is a phrase that is going to be repeated a lot here, so just get use to it now: This is who the 6th Doctor wanted to be. He is the ‘dark’ Doctor that we have been promised but never quite realised until now. Here we have a Doctor who isn’t quite good, but isn’t quite evil instead. He’s an enigma, a madman, someone who might just do the wrong thing for the right reasons. But at the same time he’s not totally alien. There is a relateable side to him, even if it is buried a bit deep. He’s tactless, but not by choice. He means well, even if he can’t convey it. However, since it’s still too earlier in the game to see if he gets better or not, I’m going to play it safe. 7/10.
â€œI went for minimalist and ended up with magicianâ€. That sums up the costume in a nutshell, a costume that the 6th Doctor would no doubt love to have. It’s simple, but it works well with the personality. This isn’t a ‘loud’ Doctor, this is a subdued Doctor. A Doctor who hangs around in the background, plotting and scheming. It suits him well… but at the same time, isn’t very memorable. It lacks… something. I’m not sure what, but it could have used a little bit of something else. 7/10.
The Story: A recently regenerated Doctor lands in Victorian times and discovers a robot who is stealing human body parts to become more human. It’s an interesting premise, and the side characters work well. However it does suffer a bit from being too long in place, with the Doctor not contributing enough to the plot. Good, but not great. 7/10.
The Doctor’s Introduction: â€œPlease take a drink, since I have a nasty feeling I’m going to have to kill you.â€ It’s here we… don’t see the Doctor. Oh we get hints, and ideas. But the biggest waste of this episode is that the Doctor isn’t introduced. As clichÃ© as it is to have the Doctor try on his new clothes in front of camera, it helps cement who the Doctor is. Here, we’re left floundering. We don’t have a Doctor established at the end of this episode. We still have a strange man that we’re learning about. While it works in context of the season, as the episode by itself, it’s a bit… lacking, unfortunately. 5/10.
Overall: This was perhaps not the strongest way for Doctor Who to come back to TV. Oh it’s not bad, don’t get me wrong. A lot of what’s in the episode works. And perhaps nothing could top what had come before, nor justify the wait we had. But at the end of the day, this was a standard episode of Doctor Who. Not particularly bad, not particularly great, just standard. 6/10.
Final Verdict: 18/30 aka 6/10
Clara Oswald: Clara is certainly better here than she was in the last season. Freed of the burden of being the ‘impossible girl’, she’s actually given a chance to develop and do something. Some hate her, I think she’s alright. She and 12 work well together, playing off each other nicely. While I don’t think she’s the best companion the series has had, I’m not ready to put her as the worst either. 7/10.
Danny Pink: An interesting character, Danny exists to be a reaction to the Doctor. He’s a solider who hates what the Doctor stands for. And for the most part, I think it works. Danny is an interesting character, and the romance the two had was believable for me. Danny worked as a nice way of grounding Clara and giving her character development. As for his end… It works (though at time of writing the future of his character is unknown, it could easily change to a more ‘happy’ ending). It fits in well with the character and the themes present. Some will 8.6argue he was born to die, but I think it all pulls together in the end. 8/10.
Final Verdict: 15/20 aka 7.5/10.
Honourable Mentions: Kill the Moon would make this list, but the science is a bit too inexcusable at times, even by Doctor Who standards. Likewise Dark Water/Death in Heaven would probably be my favourite, but I’m saving that for a later piece in this column.
The Story: What if there was a creature that evolved specifically to hide? It’s an interesting premise, and Listen certainly deliv6ers. It mixes in the best elements of both Blink and Midnight, perhaps the two scariest new-Who adventures. This one leans more towards Midnight though, and it’s stronger for it. The concept is scary… even if it does wobble a bit from time to time. But in terms of atmospherics it can’t be beat. 7/10
Monster: My friend got upset at Moffat for not revealing what was under the bed-sheet… which caused me to facepalm so hard that I almost knocked myself out. The great thing about the episode is that there may not be a monster… the important word being ‘may’. There could have been a monster all along, there might not have. It takes the story one step further than Midnight (that confirms that there is a monster, we just don’t know what it is) by challenging the very concept of monsters in Doctor Who. And, by extension, what the Doctor is like when the monsters aren’t about. 10/10.
Nostalgia Factor: I’m not sure how this one is going to pan out, if I’m honest. I can’t really be nostalgic for an episode that’s not that old. I may move on and forget about it. But I think Listen is the strongest of the series since it was the first time in the series the production team decided to do something new. It was a risk, yes, but a fun risk nonetheless. A bold risk. Turning the nature of Doctor Who on its head. I feel this will be the new Blink, the episode that makes the viewer think about what they’re watching as they watch it. So, for future Nostalgic purposes, it gets a 10/10.
Best Moment: â€œListenâ€¦ This is just a dream. But very clever people can hear dreams. So please, just listen. I know you’re afraid, but being afraid is alright. Because didn’t anybody ever tell you that fear is a superpower? Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger. And one day, you’re going to come back to this barn, and on that day, you are going to be very afraid indeed. But thatâ€™s ok. Because if youâ€™re very wise, and very strong, fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardlyâ€¦ fear can make you kind. It doesn’t matter if thereâ€™s nothing under the bed or in the dark, so long as you know it’s ok to be afraid of it. So, listen. If you listen to nothing else, listen to this. You’re always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. fear is likeâ€¦ a companion. A constant companion, always there. But that’s ok. Because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I’m going to leave you something, just so youâ€™ll always rememberâ€¦ fear makes companions of us all.â€
Sue me for quoting all of it, and still put me down as extremely dubious about whether going into the Doctor’s past is a good idea, but I have to admit, that speech is great. A real Doctor Who moment since it helps define who the Doctor is. We see the scared little boy that we know goes on to become the hero we love. In a story full of risks, this is perhaps the biggest, and the one that pays off the best. 10/10.
Ranking: I said previously â€œIf I only had twelve Doctor Who episodes to watchâ€, but much like this Doctor this would be the thirteenth. Sill, I’d put this episode next to spot number five, giving it a respectable 6/10.
Final Verdict: 43/50 aka 8.6/10
Dishonourable Mentions: Into the Dalek is a good idea not presented that well, same with Time Heist. Likewise Kill the Moon could be on this list based on the science alone, but the story does have a good moral discussion found in it.
The Story: Doctor Who meets Robin Hood in the Robots of Sherwood. This should be great… except it really isn’t. The biggest problem the show faces is the flip-flopping between whether to make Robin real or not. They eventually settle on it, but spend a hell of a long time not being able to make up their minds about it. Add to that a somewhat lacklustre story about robots being in Sherwood and, well, the story ain’t that great. 4/10.
Monster: Generic robots… yay. Though props must be given to the Sheriff of Nottingham’s Ben Miller, who looks so much like Master-actor Anthony Ainley that, had he played the Master in the finale, I don’t think many people would have been upset. Man can certainly ham it up, and he brings the best part of an otherwise rather dull episode. 3/10.
Guilty Pleasure Factor: Admittedly, seeing it play around with the Robin Hood tropes is pretty funny. Having the famous bridge fight with a spoon, having the archery contest, it’s all there. It’s a rather obvious ‘look how great we are’ sort of thing that makes the episode somewhat bearable. Along with Clara being somewhat competent throughout it. 4/10.
Worst Moment: Doctor Who is at its worst when it’s lazy, and there are two very big moments when it’s just that. The first is having the Doctor and Robin squabble for no real reason, just to keep the plot from being over too fast. The other is having the golden arrow save the day in a way so contrived you wonder why they bothered resolving it. Weak writing and a weaker resolution. 0/10.
Ranking: Same as before, ranking these episodes, this one sits at number 4, giving it a score of 7/10.
Final Verdict: 18/50 aka 3.6/10.
Best Speech/Moment (Television only)
â€œLet me tell you about scared. Your heart is beating so hard — I can feel it through your hands! There’s so much blood and oxygen pumping through your brain, it’s like rocket fuel. Right now, you could run faster and you could fight harder. You can jump higher than ever in your life. And you are so alert, it’s like you can slow down time. What’s wrong with scared? Scared is a super power! It’s your super power! There is danger in this room, and guess what? It’s you. Do you feel it? [Rupert nods. The Doctor nods at the creature on the bed] Think he feels it? Do you think he’s scared? [Rupert shakes his head] [mockingly] Nah. Loser.â€ So far this Doctor has yet to have any stand-out moments. Every little thing he does in a scene works, but this series has been more about Clara than about him. But if there was one really good moment, it’d be comforting a scared little boy by telling him fear makes him strong. Because, well, that’s what you sometimes need in Doctor Who. You need the hero whose willing to admit fault, but willing to do the right thing anyway. It’s a small moment, but a lot of what this Doctor has is small moments. 7/10.
Much like Eccleston before him, this Doctor hasn’t had much… yet. And while I haven’t read or listened to any of his expanded universe yet, it’s likely he’ll get more. Without much more to add, I’m forced to score him at a simple 4/10.
Hoo boy does this get tricky. Since he hasn’t regenerated yet, I can’t give him the proper credit. But, I don’t want him to fall down in the rankings because of it. So lets take his last two episodes, and judge them off that.
The Story: Dark Water/Death in Heaven is probably one of the best Cybermen stories, since it uses the Cybermen properly. It’s one of the best Master story, because it uses the Master properly. It builds up well and resolves a lot of the on-going story threads found within this season. Sure it’s got its plot-holes, but one the whole the story works rather well. Props to Michelle Gomez to show that not only could a female Master work, but that it could work so well, paving the way for a female Doctor in the foreseeable future. 8/10.
The Final Moments: What do I do? Do I discount him, or do I fudge the numbers. Ultimately I think the final moments that should be judged are the ones where the Doctor saves the day, since it’s when the Doctor finally decides that he is ‘an idiot with a box and a screwdriver’. He knows who he is in the face of the end, and that’s what works so well. Had he regenerated here, died to save the world, I wouldn’t have minded. Still, when there’s no way of knowing what to rank, I’ll stick at a safe 5/10.
Overall: These two episodes were great. The direction was great, the acting was great, the writing… well it was a bit melodramatic, but what’s wrong with some melodrama every now and then? Tackling big questions and bringing back monsters that had long ago lost their credibility, a lot of this just works. 9/10.
Final Verdict: 22/30 aka 7.3/10
What can I say? Capaldi is a massive fanboy who brings a lot of good to the role. The season was a bit uneven at first, and the Doctor took a bit of getting use to, but when he gets into his stride everything just clicks together nicely. Not only do we have the mythical ‘dark’ Doctor, but the stories and tone work well together as well. Whether this is his best season, or the better is yet to come, will be something we’ll have to wait and see about. But as of now, I’m happy to give series 8 and this Doctor as a whole an 8/10.
Final Verdict: 66/100
So there you have it. My look at this Doctor. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Tune in next week for my take on the next Doctor on the list. Till next time.