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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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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Whoever Fights Daleks…

It probably goes without saying (so of course I’m saying it anyway) that you really can’t have Doctor Who without the Daleks.

Created by Terry Nation, the Doctor’s most famous enemy was introduced in the first few weeks of the show’s existence, and (as legend has it) quickly sent younger viewers scrambling behind the sofa. Since then, nearly every Doctor has had to contend with them onscreen, and every showrunner has had to figure out how to keep them as frightening as they were in that very first encounter.

With the latest episode, Steven Moffat and Phil Ford have attempted that feat by introducing them to someone just as frightening…

…the Doctor.

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