Thursday, 1 January 2015

Doctor Who - Review of the Year: 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that 2014 has been engulfed in volcanic flames only to be reborn as the completely different 2015 (this is a ham-fisted Doctor Who reference, by the way) it's time to take a look back at the year just past. But this isn't a review of trivial things like world events, this will be a review of what's most important: the year in Who.

Starring: Peter Capaldi (the Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Samuel Anderson (Danny), Ellis George (Courtney) and Michelle Gomez (Missy) with Nick Frost (Santa Claus)
Written by: Steven Moffat, Phil Ford, Mark Gatiss, Stephen Thompson, Gareth Roberts, Peter Harness and Jamie Mathieson
Directed by: Ben Wheatley, Paul Murphy, Douglas Mackinnon, Paul Wilmshurst, Sheeree Folkson and Rachel Talalay

Best Episodes

Robot of Sherwood
While it won't be one of the most remembered episodes of Series 8, I have a great deal of affection for Robot, particularly the way that it completely ignores the new moodier tone of Series 8 and delivers a hilarious swashbuckling adventure that could have come from any year of 21st century Who.

Both of newcomer Jamie Mathieson's stories this year were belters but this one just pips Mummy on the Orient Express to the post. It's a creepy, clever story with a terrific monster in the Boneless and applause must be given for the amount of comedy mileage that is made from the Doctor being stuck in the tiny TARDIS.

Death in Heaven
'Dark Water' was really just a 45 minute long teaser trailer but this second part of 2014's series finale certainly packed a punch. With emotional moments abound, it gave us two well-executed monsters in the Master and her Cybermen as well as the amount of action and surprises as is customary for these occasions. The best finale since Series 5.

To read my reviews of all of Series 8, click here.


Firstly, surely the biggest change to the Doctor's character since the show's revival was made in 2014 as Mr Capaldi took over the role. A lot has been said about him returning to the style of classic Doctors but really the Twelfth Doctor is in a league of his own. He may have the dress sense of Pertwee and the crotchetiness of Hartnell but the hatred of soldiers, forgetfulness and gloomier outlook on the universe is new. That said, he may have already developed some of his own quirks but I don't think the Twelfth Doctor is one who has arrived fully formed. Whereas Ten and Eleven began their lives like baby kangaroos and gradually got weighed down by responsibilities and losses, I imagine we will see Twelve go in the opposite direction and have his lack of faith in himself and the universe overturned.
Perhaps for the first time in the show's history, both Doctor and companion underwent a regeneration this year - in a manner of speaking. The Clara of Series 7 was a bubbly young woman still raw from her mother's death when she was younger: she was the Doctor's 'impossible girl' who was absolutely devoted to him. In Series 8, Clara was a much more mature woman, with a life away from the Doctor in her job at Coal Hill School and in her doomed relationship with Danny Pink. Importantly, cracks also began to show in her relationship with the Doctor. The change wasn't a gradual one but rather - in classic Doctor Who style - an instant reboot, done to spice things up. As much of an improvement as it was, the difference in the two personas of Clara is a little jarring. But then, if any companion was to have different personalities it would be Clara 'Scattered throughout the Doctor's timestream' Oswald. As 'Last Christmas' ended with the two still travelling with each other, maybe we will get another regeneration of each character next year.

Story Arc

Ostensibly the main story arc of Series 8 was 'the Missy mystery' which consisted of the aforementioned Mary Poppins making enigmatic appearances at the ends of certain episodes. In reality, though, this was the B Story Arc, relegated to tacked-on scenes. Due to this series' renewed emphasis on character, the real story arc of this year was the triangle of relationships between the Doctor, Clara and Danny. I can't say I was the biggest fan of this 'love' triangle as I think it tilted the emphasis of the show away from ordinary people travelling with the Doctor to a sort of quasi-superhero/secret identity story with Clara struggling to keep both sides of her life in check. However it was a brave experiment that must be commended and resulted in many fine performances from the three main cast members. Next year, however, I do hope the show will once more be about, as Rory once said, 'planets and history and stuff.'
On the other hand, when 'the Missy Mystery' reared its... umbrella in the series finale I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn't particularly been inspired by Missy's scattered cameos but I loved Michelle Gomez' madcap performance as a female Master and, in a series of brave experiments, I count her as one of the most successful. While it would perhaps be a tad predictable to have Missy at the heart of next year's story arc here's hoping she comes back as soon as possible.

The Doctor and Clara will return in 'The Magician's Apprentice'...


  1. Nice roundup! The Mummy on the Orient Express episode was my favourite this season, followed by Listen. Missy also won me over although some of Danny and Clara's scenes left me rather flat.

    1. Thanks! I really love Mummy on the Orient Express too - I think whichever one I prefer out of that and Flatline will keep flip-flopping. Missy was lots of fun and I know what you mean about Danny and Clara. I'm hoping for another third character in the Doctor and Clara's relationship next year but I hope they come along for the ride next time - so we don't keep having soppy scenes in Clara's flat and the school.


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