Yes, Clara, There Is A Doctor

We don’t believe in Santa Claus because he’s real. He’s real because we believe in him.

There’s that kind of power in our fantasies, our fairy tales, our heroes. They don’t have to exist in our world. And it might be far better that they don’t. Reality can be a mess sometimes, maybe most times. And it’s a comfort to know that there’s something outside of it. Something better. Something impossible and incredible and great.

And so we create these heroes and vest our faith in them. Like Santa Claus.

Like the Doctor.

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Old Friends Die Hard

“Clara, be my pal. Tell me… am I a good man?”
“I… don’t know.”
“Neither do I.”

– from “Into the Dalek,” by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat

They were the central questions of Series 8 of Doctor Who. What kind of man is this new Doctor? Is he a hero? Does he still care? Is he even capable of caring anymore?

It’s to the show’s credit that it dared to ask those questions, to explore the darker sides of life with, and as, the last Time Lord. Asking those questions gave us stories like “Listen” and “Flatline.”

And it’s to the show’s credit that in the end, it found a way to answer them.

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If This Is Paradise, I Wish I Had A Sonic Lawnmower

Since I’ve committed to life as a Doctor Who blogger, I’ve often surprised myself with the connections I’ve made. Not so much within the show itself – it’s easy to find traces of a past story or a past Doctor in the current series. It’s Doctor Who – there’s always going to be at least a piece of its past in its present.

No, the surprise comes from the connections I find outside of the series, the things an episode reminds me of as I’m watching it. Last week’s episode is a perfect example. I didn’t go into “Flatline” looking for a Bourne Identity parallel, but once I found it, it just made perfect sense to explore that.

With all that in mind, you really have to wonder about the kind of mind that goes from Doctor Who to Talking Heads…
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It’s Complicated, But Does It Really Have To Be THAT Complicated?

One of the many things that’s made Series 8 of Doctor Who so different from past seasons is the nature of the arc that informs the stories. In past years (especially since Steven Moffat became showrunner), those arcs were plot-driven, grounded in twists and turns and reveals of mixed justification and mixed success.

But this season, the arc is almost entirely character-driven. It’s about relationships. It’s about Clara’s relationship with the Doctor. In a way I’m not sure the show has really attempted before, Doctor Who is exploring what it means to travel with the Doctor. And it’s exploring that relationship from both sides.

And so, it’s not altogether surprising that the last two episodes have effectively changed the status to “It’s Complicated.”

But it’s still great viewing.

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Growing Up With A Space Dad

We’re halfway through Series 8 of Doctor Who, and I’m beginning to think that this season is as much about Steven Moffat learning from his mistakes as it is about the Doctor learning from his.

This last week’s episode is a perfect case in point. “The Caretaker” explores a theme Moffat covered just last season in “The Power of Three”: what it’s like to try to live an ordinary life when the Doctor’s in it. But that episode never quite succeeded, while this one succeeds quite well.

The difference?

Consequences.

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Listen Closely…

One of the great hopes I had for series 8 of Doctor Who was that we’d see the show step back from its plot-heavy storytelling of recent seasons, and focus more on exploring the characters. With a new Doctor (and especially with THAT actor playing him), I hoped Steven Moffat would seize the great opportunity before him: the opportunity to craft stories that are less about what the Doctor does, and more about who he is.

But I thought it too much to hope for an episode as inspired as “Listen.”

Maybe I should have aimed a little higher…

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