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Doctor Who Review: Acceptance

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Peter Capaldi has made the transformation into The Doctor, but he wasn't fully accepted without some help from himself - in the form of the 11th Doctor Matt Smith in a surprise (and moving) cameo.

There was a new, sleek opening sequence and The Doctor redecorated with a lot of round things. He apparently likes round things. You have to admit they move faster than square things.

Honestly, Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 1 wasn't a good episode. It was far too long and perhaps a bit lost. It did, however, achieve the most important job of a newly regenerated Doctor by appealing to our emotions and accepting the change with open arms.

Going Victorian - Doctor Who

There were many shout outs to the history of the series, including the storyline -- eliciting memories of The Girl In The Fireplace with David Tennant as the 10th Doctor -- and a moment when The Doctor wished Clara were more like Amy.

Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax were called upon to do a lot of the heavy lifting -- including Vastra's determination to get Clara to see through the veil, so to speak, and appreciate he is the same man inside.

Frankly, it felt like a little too much emphasis was placed on whether or not Capaldi could pick up the baton and run with it after it was nestled so successfully in Matt Smith's hands. Capaldi is a capable and warm character as The Doctor, not cold as I was expecting. He's not darker as of yet, but certainly almost let down by the appearance he generated into. 

But, by the time The Doctor called Clara from Trenzalore pre-regeneration, I had already accepted Capaldi and found him quite capable. He is funny...

These are attack eyebrows! You can take bottle tops off with these!

The Doctor

...and engaging, as well as emotional. It's not a coincidence that the nemesis this week was wearing the skin and other parts of people in its attempt to be human as The Doctor was wearing new skin as well. In all, though, The Doctor probably had less screen time than any of the other characters.

When The Doctor made his speech about being alive for 2,000 years and doing so many wrongs that it was now time to right, he was stating his new purpose. 

The Doctor: Clara, I'm not your boyfriend.
Clara: I never thought you were.
The Doctor: I never said it was your mistake.

From what I understand Whovians the world around loved that The Doctor told Clara that he wasn't her boyfriend, but they perhaps didn't listen long enough to understand that he had felt as much and now realizes that it was not only folly, but its time was past.

After it all, the phone call seemed a little unnecessary and over the top, as if the show was taking one last plunge to drive home that it's still the same Doctor, although we all know that. Perhaps it's for the children watching the show, to give them some continuity? Even as unwarranted as it was, it did make me tear up, especially when the two Doctors were talking at the same time. 

Clara: Hello? Hello?
The Doctor: It's me.
Clara: Yes, it's you. Who's this?
The Doctor: It's me Clara. The Doctor.
Clara: What do you mean "The Doctor"?
The Doctor: I'm phoning you from Trenzalore, from before I changed. It's all still to happen to me. It's coming, oh it's coming. Not long now. I can ... feel it.
Clara: Why? Why did you do this?
The Doctor: Because I think it's gonna be a whopper. And I think you might be scared. And however scared you are, Clara, the man you are with right now, the man I hope you are with, believe me, he is more scared than can imagine right now, and he needs you. Is that The Doctor?
The Doctor: Is that the Doctor?
Clara: Yes.
The Doctor: He sounds old. Please tell me I didn't get old. I was young. Oh. Is he gray?
Clara: Yes.
The Doctor: Clara, please, hey, for me. Help him. Go on. And don't be afraid. Goodbye Clara. Miss ya.

It all comes down to acceptance. Accepting someone for who they are and not how they look. So Clara will stick around to help this new Doctor, but we already know she'll probably be gone come Christmas. Whatever occurs, I look forward to their new adventures together. I didn't have to be sold on their companionship. They did a fine job on their own.

The Doctor: You can't see me, can you? You look at me and you can't see me. Do you have any idea what that's like? I'm not on the phone. I'm right here. Standing in front of you. Please. Just... Just see me.
Clara: Thank you.
The Doctor: For what?
Clara: Phoning.

The new "mystery" in the vein of the Impossible Girl was introduced by way of Missy. She is not only familiar with The Doctor but has seen his new form without actually seeing him. Is she really in some sort of heaven? Was she the person placing the ads that drove Clara and The Doctor together? Why? Will she be the new companion, introduced early as Clara was while Amy was still with her Doctor?

What did you think? Are you on board with changes and what are you hopes for the season? Welcome back!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (44 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Avatar

I loved all the references to prior adventures for long time fans. They did however get one wrong. The Doctor references the clockwork monsters as being from a ship similar to the one in "Girl in the Fireplace". While this is correct, he NAMED the ship when he referred to it. He never knew the name of the ship. The episode ended with him wondering why they were so intent on Madame de Pompadour but never finding out. The reason was only revealed to the viewer at the end of the episode after the Tardis fades out and on the wall behind where it was is a painting of Madame de Pompadour (with a name plaque under it) followed by another shot of the ship in space with it rotating to show the ship name as "Madame de Pompadour" (all prior shots of the outside of the ship did not show the ship name).

Hanko9

I totally agree with you Carissa. I thought Peter Capaldi was fantastic and very surprised Matt Smith even made an appearance. David Tennant didn't show up until Smith had established himself as the Doctor. I teared up but it gave me a weird vibe. I understand why Moffat made the choices he made, but it did feel like he was saying... yeah we've got this old dude but he's still the doctor. Give him a chance, don't drop the show. The other thing I noticed was Capaldi's talk of his face and "why this face?" Do you think that's a reference to his previous appearance in the Pompeii episode? I didn't like Clara very much in this Season 8 opener, maybe it IS time they move to a new companion... A better fit. So much of the episode felt off to me, oh well.

Modwild
@ Henry A. Otero

What's weird is that as soon as we had him... that comment about not being her boyfriend was really poignantly delivered by Capaldi... they switched gears and brought in Smith. It's definitely something the writers were worried about. Casting regret? We'll probably never know why they chose to do it like they did.

Dreamrose

At first I thought it very odd indeed that Clara was having so much trouble accepting the new Doctor. After all, she knew better than almost every other companion that the Doctor changes and has many faces over his life. In fact, not too long before, she had personally encountered two others with very little fuss over the concept. All that is true. However! Keep in mind that she just lived through the Christmas special: in less than a day (from her perspective), she's witnessed the Doctor she's known and loved change from an energetic, young-seeming man to an elderly, dying one. And then, he transforms into a completely new person entirely. The Doctor as she knew him is gone, and all her experience has not prepared her for the actual reality of it, especially since the Doctor himself is going through his own trauma. It's one thing to know, intellectually speaking, that the Doctor changes, and even to meet some of these incarnations. It's quite something else to have it happen right in front of you.

Modwild
@ Dreamrose

While i get that Clara may have trouble adjusting, it felt -- overall -- like a hard-sell on Peter Capaldi. He did better when left to his own devices than when he was apologizing for not being Matt Smith. It was awkward.

Dreamrose
@ Carissa Pavlica

I guess we'll agree to disagree on this particular topic! Changing course, I do find it interesting how the various incarnations have different opinions on regeneration - In "The End of Time", Ten grimly compared regeneration to death: "Some new man goes sauntering away, and I'm dead." In this episode, we have Twelve reminding Clara that he's the same person who just phoned her from Trenzalore, standing right in front of her in Glasgow. They aren't two different people at all, but the same Doctor.

Avatar

Whereas with 10 and 11 at the top of the new doctor's first episode we "saw" the regeneration, we didn't get it here until the end. I believe by the time the episode was over (too many commercials BBCA) Clara had half accepted his new face, the phone call finished it. Brilliant as always and a re-watch is in store to catch what was missed. BTW what the hell was that paradise crap at the end?

Dreamrose
@ Jo Post

Did anyone else feel that BBCA's commercial breaks seemed oddly placed? It's like, we're in the middle of the scene, and suddenly they break for a commercial. It was rather distracting, actually, and made me wonder what I was missing that they likely chopped out for the American cut of the episode. I don't know if they actually did cut anything out for the BBCA version, but it felt like they might have.

Modwild
@ Dreamrose

There were too many commercials. That's to be expected of a (short) feature length presentation on TV, I guess.

Dreamrose
@ Carissa Pavlica

I'll just have to wait for it to come out on DVD, I suppose. Though I'll probably be stuck waiting for someone to give it to me for my birthday, which is in about 350-odd days... ;-)

Avatar

I agree the episode was not as good as the Eleventh Hour, which quickly had me loving the new doctor. This episode while it had be accepting Peter as the new doctor, I'm not in love with him yet. What it did do was make me like Clara a lot more. From her 'not just another pretty face' speech with Vasta to her trusting exercise scene with the Doctor, this show did an amazing job of fleshing her character out. For me that meant a lot since the companion is the person you are supposed to connect with and I always had problems connecting with the impossible girl. It also did a great job at fleshing out another character I never paid much attention to, Jenny Flint. While I love the trio I always seem to talk more about Madame Vastra and Strax. Even though she is the one in the relationship with Vastra, she was always the third wheel to me. No more! In this episode, she shined. From her little moments like the "I love her" scene to the tea scene and the why am I posing scene, she was a delight. Sometimes it was just a look from her that had me smiling. I am a lover of a good line and there were so many to love in this episode. I could go all day just quoting scenes. (I did irl. Sorry friends and loved ones.) You are absolutely right. The trio with Clara really did carry the weight of the episode. But I thought the humor was great because you can tell at the end the episode it's about to get dark so enjoy the silly while you can.

Modwild
@ Cjack

I think Clara previously got the shaft because people were so in love with Amy Pond and Eleven. I've never had an issue with her and thought she did just as beautifully last night as she did last season. She had big shoes to fill, but did so admirably.

Dreamrose
@ Cjack

I, too, enjoyed the expansion of Jenny and her relationship with Vastra. If I have one complaint (it's a minor one, admittedly), it's that we know very little to nothing about Jenny *outside* of her relationship with Vastra. Yes, it's a very important relationship, one that brings Jenny into the Doctor's orbit, but who is she otherwise? Frankly, we know more about Strax than we do Jenny. On the other hand, maybe it's good to leave a little mystery to a character. And I agree that there were a lot of great lines in this episode. "These are attack eyebrows!" My sister and I laughed over that one - she has been enamored over Peter Capaldi's eyebrows since they first appeared in "The Day of the Doctor"!

Avatar

Clara is not confirmed to be leaving it is merely supposition on the part of a British tabloid. Whilst the rumours have not been declared as untrue by Moffat and co this does not make her supposed departure at Christmas a fact - considering the interviews that Capadi and Miss Coleman have had on two British shows it would appear to be a ploy on the part of Moffat and his merry men to cast an element of danger over the current series. That what you have stated as fact is not; as such, it would be appropriate that you alter the wording in some way to leave intact the sense of not knowing the fate of Clara as the makers of the show intend - this will create tension and further accentuate the viewer's interest, so could you please make the aforementioned alteration?

Avatar
@ The Doctor

Jenna Coleman herself said on Friday that she likes the uncertainty and the rumor, because it means people don't know what's going to happen to her. Indeed if you read some of the BBC-distributed briefs about the episodes to come (these aren't leaks but stuff that has been printed with BBC and Moffat sanction) there's no way to tell what's going to happen to her.

Modwild
@ Namnoot

Then again, it's possible they decided sharing the news too early wouldn't allow people to buy into her and Capaldi as the Doctor. The Matt Smith cameo was rumored and true. They're not great at keeping secrets.

Dreamrose
@ The Doctor

I agree - Jenna Coleman's departure is still in the realm of rumor, albeit a (very) widely repeated one. Moffat's a sneaky one, and may have started the rumor himself just to mess with people. This rumor may turn out to be true, but I'll hedge my bets until then and shove this one into the "maybe" file.

Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 1 Quotes

Oooooh... It's good I'm Scottish. I'm Scottish. I am Scottish. I can complain about things. I can really complain about things now.

The Doctor

These are attack eyebrows! You can take bottle tops off with these!

The Doctor
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