Sunday, August 31, 2014

Into the Dalek

The Doctor's deadliest foes (and my personal fave), the Daleks, make their return this week in Into the Dalek.

Finding himself on a spacecraft floating through the asteroid belt, the Doctor is enlisted to help save another passenger - a malfunctioning Dalek.

After a quick, thankfully under-explained miniaturisation process, the Doctor, Clara and three of the spacecraft's soldiers are go through the eyestalk, into the Dalek. We've seen what is inside a Dalek's shell before but never to this detail. And as it turns out, the inside of a Dalek is just as dangerous as its outside, with robotic antibodies just waiting to dissolve anything that doesn't belong into fuel.

For once, the focus wasn't some complicated Moffat exploit. It stuck to one question: Is the Doctor a good man? Its a question the Doctor needs to ask himself, and ask it often.  With a good Dalek and a morally ambiguous Doctor, the role reversal was a great way to explore this question. It's alway great to see the Doctor realise he is not perfect and it really opened up the episode for Capaldi to show off his acting chops. In the final, and most powerful scene, the Doctor practically begs the Dalek to see the good in him.

It's easy to see where the episode took its inspiration from. Season one's Dalek has Nine facing off against a lone, prisoner Dalek who also makes the Doctor realise that he is just as capable of blind hate. In that episode, the Dalek tells the Doctor "you would make a good Dalek" and the same idea rings through much of this episode.

Clara also finally has a useful role! All throughout New Who, the companion is supposed to act a somewhat of a moral compass to guide the Doctor. Clara hasn't ever fulfilled this position until now. The Doctor-companion (or carer, as Clara calls herself) dynamic finally comes into play again and it was so good to see. She is finally that human balance to the Doctor's sometimes alien ways.  I actually almost like her!

Religious references continued into this episode, from the Doctor commenting on the Dalek's soul to the Dalek itself seeing the divinity in the beauty of the universe. The religious undertone is likely to continue and probably has something to do with Missy but I'd actually like it to lead to a realisation that his previous incarnation all too often played god when it was not his place to do so (maybe?).

Into the Dalek also introduced a new series regular - teacher and ex-solider, Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). A new love interest for Clara, Danny also has secrets of his own. It is implied that he has killed people and not only other soldiers. He was the perfect mix of mysterious and adorably awkward. And I'd be lying if I didn't say he is fine as hell.  I can't wait to see more of him.

Sadly, however, Missy was back in this episode, welcoming one of the soldiers to 'heaven'.  It's disappointing that Moffat keeps creating these godlike female characters because it didn't work with River and it probably won't work with Missy. Also, are we going to get the same scene every week? With only 12 episodes, we're not like to forget her. It's the crack in the wall business all over again.

That said and despite the fact it was basically a remake of Dalek, this week's episode was surprisingly good. It had a great mix of fun, adventure-y scenes and more serious, character development-y ones. Capaldi got to delve into the character of his Doctor and Clara was finally a useful character. 8/10!

Fave Quotes

- "Am I a good man?"

- "She cares, so I don't have to"

References to old episodes

- The whole episode was one giant Dalek remake.
- Did I see season five's crack in the wall make an appearance? The crack in the Dalek sure did look like it!

Anything else that I missed? I haven't seen Classic Who so I'm sure there's some!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I just got really passionate about RTD's era all of a sudden...

I just realised that when it comes to Moffat’s Doctor Who, there haven’t been very many stories that stay with me. From seasons 5-7, I can honestly say there have been two episodes that stuck: Vincent and the Doctor and The Lodger. I have not had any desire to go back and watch any of the other episodes. In fact, I can’t even remember most of them.

Compare that to the Davies’ era and sure they didn’t have half the cool effects or big explosions but man, they had heart. They had adventure and not just characters running around aimlessly followed by yet another big explosion. There were real, human moments with real human people, and it showed best when it was contrasted with this suddenly completely alien being.

Then lets compare Rose to Amy. Rose lost her father, Amy both her parents. Suddenly they have this opportunity to go back and see them again. Of course they would want to. Of course. Yet Amy never mentions her parents. Same with Clara. There was that one weird moment with the leaf but we were too busy having this “impossible girl” problem shoved down our throats for it to matter. Who cares that she is an actual person when she can just be another problem to solve.

I miss the good guys sometimes dying because that’s just what happens. Very few of the good guys ever die in Moffat’s series. Magically the Doctor can just fix everything. But real life doesn’t have a reset button.

And funnily enough it’s Moffat’s episodes in Davies’ time as showrunner that stand out the most. Even just thinking about Nine saying “just this once, everybody lives” is making me happy.

I’m not saying that Davies’ era was perfect. (I mean, the Slitheen? bad) but there was something to them that made me want to keep watching. And not to relish in finding the plot holes or criticising Moffat’s lack of subtlety but because i thoroughly enjoyed them. Even the less than fantastic ones.

Side note: review of Deep Breath to come tomorrow!