Thursday, 31 December 2015

Doctor Who - Review of the Year: 2015

It's the end - but the moment has been prepared for. Yes, 2015 is crisping over like the Fourth Doctor in his strange cocoon-like regeneration and to celebrate I'm reviewing this year in Doctor Who. And what a year it was...

Starring: Peter Capaldi (the Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Maisie Williams (Ashildr), Jemma Redgrave (Kate), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood) with Michelle Gomez (Missy) and Alex Kingston (River Song)
Written by: Steven Moffat, Toby Whithouse, Jamie Mathieson, Cathering Treganna, Peter Harness, Mark Gatiss and Sarah Dollard
Directed by: Hettie MacDonald, Daniel O'Hara, Ed Bazelgette, Daniel Nettheim, Justin Molotnikov and Rachel Talalay

Best Episodes 

The Magician's Apprentice/ The Witch's Familiar 
I was intending to only pick one episode of each two-parter but I just can't choose which one of this amazing double-decker story is better. On the one hand, you have got the galaxy-spanning, Davros-delivering first part and on the other, the scaled-down two-hander of the second. Both parts brilliantly compliment the other. 

The Zygon Inversion
Acclaimed for its anti-war themes, this was the stronger episode of the Zygon two-parter as it boasted one of Jenna Coleman's best performances as Bonnie and a dramatic tour de force from Peter Capaldi whose delivery of the climactic speech deserves to go down as one of Doctor Who's most powerful moments ever. 

Face The Raven
The last three episodes of Series Nine (are they all one story? Discuss) were all ambitious, creative pieces but 'Heaven Sent' will be praised elsewhere and I had certain issues with 'Hell Bent' so 'Face the Raven' gets the place here. The plot twists and turns from your average Who adventure to a teary farewell for Clara. Well, sort of.

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

The Twelfth Doctor and Clara shared one of the most uneasy relationships of any Doctor-companion last year as both had to adjust to the massive change in the Time Lord's character. This year, however, they enjoyed a much firmer friendship, one that made it the best to watch of the last three years. Although not one without problems. 
After having her heart broken when her heroic boyfriend Danny sacrificed himself to save the world (or rather Clara, everyone else just got lucky), Clara was much less rooted to her family and job in Series Nine - with it being heavily suggested that she was throwing herself into her life with the Doctor to ignore the grief she was feeling. In fact, their relationship was the reverse of the previous as the Doctor had to anchor Clara as she seemed to take perverse delight in endangering her life. 
In my Series Eight overview, I claimed that this Doctor would considerably develop over his tenure and, boy, what a change he underwent this year! Going from grumpy to groovy, it was like the Doctor regenerated once again in between series and just kept Capaldi's face - it's hard to imagine the sombre Doctor of 2014 riding into a medieval arena while playing a guitar on top of a tank. The Doctor rekindled his love of adventure this year and wasted no time in mostly cutting ties with present-day Earth and exploring the universe with Clara. But, of course, just as Clara was running away from her grief, the Doctor was trying to forget the inevitable - that the good times couldn't last forever...

Story Arc
It could be argued that Series Nine is actually less than the some of its parts. While there were many fantastic episodes across the run, the story arc that held them together had its ups and downs.
The most prominent ongoing mystery was the legend of the Hybrid and to whom it referred. This was something of a throwback to story arcs of years gone by as it amounted to a name-check an episode (as per 'Bad Wolf' or 'Torchwood') rather than the awkwardly tacked-on Missy scenes from last year. However, within the narrative, the Doctor's sudden obsession with it came somewhat out of the blue although it did have a nicely ambiguous explanation and was held together by Maisie Williams as Ashildr.
The Hybrid mystery was also tied in with the return of Gallifrey, which had been teased since 'The Day of the Doctor' and its reintroduction in 'Hell Bent' is one of the most controversial decisions of this year. Although one other might just top it...
Clara's oncoming doom was another big story which built to a terrific and heart-rendering farewell in 'Face The Raven' - before she was resurrected and given her own TARDIS in the finale. Many are in support of this ending but myself I can't get it out of my head that this was an undoing of a great ending rather than a surprising second denouement. That said, such boldness of ideas and toying with audience's expectations is emblematic of the whole series and is something that should continue in the future.

The Doctor will return...

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