Peter Capaldi has finished up his first season as The Doctor, and it's been a season that was particularly divisive among the fandom. Barring John Hurt's appearances in the 50th anniversary special, Capaldi is the oldest man to take on the role in the revived series, and when you add in other drastic changes that happened over the course of the episodes a certain amount of Shaken Fan Syndrome was going to be inevitable.
In the course of reviewing each episode I found much of the writing weak, but applauded Capaldi and Jenna Coleman's abilities to work with what they had. There were some truly terrifying monsters, surprise returns, and amazing twists to go with oft-times poor characterization and plot holes that were bigger on the outside. Here on the other side of the whole thing, I thought I'd reach out to some big names in the Whovian community.
"Perhaps due to reaching an introspective mid-life crisis, the Doctor has spent being fifty gazing at his naval and considering the very nature of his character - and it's been an electrifying journey of discovery!"
That's Stuart Humphryes, better known by his YouTube handles BabelColour. He is one of the Whovians who sometimes does better work with The Doctor than the BBC, especially in terms of colorization. His upcoming mash-up detailing the Time War is highly anticipated.
"The themes of 'being good' have been explored over and over again in one of the most compelling and adult seasons in Doctor Who's history," continues Humphryes. "When Clara was asked if he were a good man she couldn't answer, and even 13 episodes into Peter Calpaldi's reign the viewer is not entirely sure either. We discovered the Doctor's hatred via a 'good' Dalek, we saw his lily-white Time Lords hands being washed of bood by 'good' Cybermen, and we witnessed the extraordinary lengths The Master would go to in order to demonstrate that they were not so different after all. We looked at the realities of being 'a hero', the implications of being 'a Lord'. We saw the origins of the fear that haunts the Doctor and the modus operandi he must adopt to get the job done and, we realize, 'goodness has nothing to do with it'. It has been thought provoking, layered, adult drama presented by the most magnetic and scene-stealing actor to take the role."
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In total agreement with Humphryes is Justin Richards. He's the author of more than a dozen Doctor Who novels and Big Finish audio dramas (I recommend the Ninth Doctor novel The Clockwise Man heavily as it ties in nicely with the opener this season, "Deep Breath".
"This was a season of both new and old," says Richards. "A new Doctor met old friends - Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax obviously, but also Kate and Osgood from UNIT. He also returned to Coal Hill School, setting for the very first episode back in 1963. He battled against Daleks, Cybermen and 'Missy'...
But it was also fresh and exciting, Richards says. Daleks and Cybermen shown in a new way, a re-imagining of an old adversary, and of course the new Doctor - in many ways an amalgam of some of his previous incarnations, but also different and innovative and exciting.
"I suppose that's what you'd expect from a show that deals with time travel - past successes re-imagined for the present day, and plenty of hints as to what the future might hold," says Richards.
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Even when individual episodes, such as "In the Forest of the Night" disappointed, praise for Capaldi himself in the role is near universal. Between his veteran actor's chops, his long fandom of the show from when he was a kid, and the remarkable interactions he's had with fans, particularly young ones, when he's been out and about have firmly cemented his place as a Doctor, though it's still too soon to see how he'll measure up to his predecessors when all is said and done.
"Peter Capaldi has completely rejuvenated the role and made me fall in love with the character and the series all over again," says Humphryes. "It has explored themes that have never been touched upon and shown us the complex, conflicting dichotomy of the character that has made him dangerous and alien again for the first time in decades. I've found Season 8 an explosive series, full of themes and ideas that have excited and challenged me, reinvigorating my enthusiasm for the show and spinning it off into a new direction which, after 50 years, seems an almost impossible challenge to have accomplished."
Doctor Who returns at Christmas.