The ninth series of Doctor Who has just finished and I thought I’ll add my voice to the mix. This is a review of series nine and not just the final episode. As such there will be major spoilers so be warned.
I decided to write a review of the series to show my disappointment but looking back… it wasn’t as bad as I remember. Don’t shoot me yet, I agree it was in no way, shape or form the strongest series but there were some really good moments. I’ve already talked about my favourite moment in my previous Doctor Why reviews. Trapped inside a Dalek, brilliant! Interestingly enough the scripts for the first two episodes are now available to view on the BBC’s Writer’s Room website along with the script for series three episode one Smith and Jones.
If you find reading scripts interesting you should definitely go here and read the series four episodes Voyage of the Dammed, Partners in Crime, Midnight, Turn Left, The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End.
Two other episodes I enjoyed were Face the Raven and Heaven Sent. Let’s start with Face the Raven. I enjoyed the Ashilda/Me story arch. Maisie Williams is a fantastic actress and the idea of a rival to the Doctor, apart from Missy, is great. Face the Raven is also the episode where Clara sacrifices herself to save her friend Rigsy. I knew she was leaving (bloody spoilers on the internet) but like many others I assumed it would be at the end of the series or in the middle. Many people have been comparing Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and Jenna Coleman’s Clara to previous Doctors and Companions, I don’t think that’s fair. Everyone is entitled to their favourite Doctor and Companion (Mine is Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) but the style of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is different to say David Tennent’s Doctor. For example I don’t think the episode Heaven Sent would have worked half so well with Tennent or Smith. Heaven Sent, the penultimate episode, only features two characters, The Doctor and the Monster. I was dubious when I heard about it and although the episode seems to have divided opinions I thought it was excellent as a psychological thriller.
I think the episode Sleep No More had the potential to be as good as Heaven Sent. It involved many aspects of a normal Doctor Who episode, a scary monster, an SOS message and a spaceship but the two key differences are that it’s filmed entirely from found footage and the fact that at the end of the episode the Doctor doesn’t win. He doesn’t save the day, he doesn’t defeat the monsters and he ends up legging it on the TARDIS. In theory the idea is great, there are some monsters and situations even the Doctor can’t win against. On screen however it looks like a cop-out and is disappointing.
There were some really bad decisions in this series. First of all who remembers Last Christmas? It involved Father Christmas, mind controlling crabs and multiple layers of dreams. Does it ring a faint bell? The episode is torn in different directions. Is it a horror, is it family friendly? Thankfully it’s completely forgettable but it still counts as part of series nine. This year’s Christmas special looks to be going the same way if it wasn’t for the inclusion of River Song but I’ll hold back my opinions until the episode has been released.
I have two main problems with the series and they’re both in the final episode Hell Bent. The Time Lords. Russell T Davis said he wouldn’t use the Time Lords as a villain because they were old men standing around chatting about what was going on. (Admittedly he used them in The End of Time but he also had the Master running around) The Time Lords didn’t do anything! They’re not even in the episode that much! Also the Doctor breaks one of his own rules and uses a gun. I agree, he recently lost a companion but he’s lost companions in previous regenerations and not resorted to violence. The second problem is Clara. I understand that Doctor Who is a family friendly show and as such children will of course be watching so you can’t “kill” anyone but bringing her back in Hell Bent completely undermined her beautiful death in Face the Raven. Her resurrection also continues the trend of characters never staying dead.
There were some really good moments in the series and neat little tricks such as the Sonic Sunglasses (I grew to like them in the end) the original TARDIS control room and references to Day of the Doctor but the finale left a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not demanding for head Showrunner Steven Morffat’s sacking but I do ask him to improve the quality of his writing.