For the second story in a row, Doctor Who is a two-part episode. As much as I like the vintage style of a multi-part Doctor Who story, after the Dalek two-parter and this ghost story, I’m not sure that they’ve quite figured out the pacing yet.
If there’s one way to describe Steven Moffat’s run as showrunner, it’s to call it a throwback to classic Doctor Who. He’s mixed in little bits of action, horror, morality, and dry humour to make a fun show just like it was when it first started. Moffat also seems to be bringing back the multi-part stories to Doctor Who. For the second story in a row, we have a two-parter. While the last one was meant to tug at your heartstrings, this one is meant to send chills up your spine.
As someone who watched old Doctor Who reruns growing up, I’m quite fond of the multi-episode arc that Doctor Who traditionally used to tell stories. It’s something we rarely see from modern Doctor Who, at least not to the extent that it used to be used as a story telling device. In fact, this is only the second two-part season premiere of Doctor Who since the revival.
The problem with a multi-episode story arc is that you really need to have a good payoff to the individual episodes and the story as a whole. I’m not convinced that The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar two-parter really fulfilled either side of that.
Nine months on from Christmas, Doctor Who Christmas is upon us. Okay, I’m not sure what a Doctor Who fan would consider to be the biggest event of the year but it’s my review so I’m going to say it’s the season premiere. With no new characters to introduce, we instead get reacquainted with a couple of The Doctor’s old nemeses. What good is a hero without an equally strong villain, after all.
Like the last couple of Doctor Who Christmas specials, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special come with some intrigue for the series going forward. Last year’s saw the denouement of the Eleventh Doctor and the introduction of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.
This year, the intrigue was all about Clara. Lead actors and actresses on Doctor Who haven’t been particularly long-lived on the show with Amy and Rory being the longest tenured at two-and-a-half season. So while we were all hoping for a happy Christmas story, the whole episode would be about the mystery contract status of Jenna Coleman.
The first eleven episodes of this season of Doctor Who have been absolutely brilliant. We’re used to sporadic good episodes but such a succession of great episodes in 10 of the first 11 weeks of Doctor Who is something that no TV show this side of maybe The Wire or Game of Thrones have been able to match.
The finale would be the biggest test of the course of Doctor Who under Peter Capaldi because finales are typically where the show falls flattest. Could a season that’s been so much better than usual end so much better than usual?
It certainly hasn’t seemed like this season has been on for very long but we’ve reached the end of this season of Doctor Who. After ten weeks, it’s time for the two-part season finale. After all the teasers of Missy and the afterlife, The Doctor and Clara finally stumble upon it after the personal stakes are raised.
You can’t expect a run of great episodes to continue forever. You would hope that it wouldn’t end right before the season finale of one of the best seasons of Doctor Who since the show’s revival in 2005. However, asking for 12-for-12 great episodes would be asking too much so maybe a flat episode was better this week than in the next two.
How many times has science fiction explored other dimensions? We’ve explored alternate dimensions with revised histories, good people turned evil and more. However, how many time have we explored the second dimension? Well, not only do The Doctor and Clara have to deal with creatures from the second dimension but The Doctor has to deal with a shrinking TARDIS. All in a day’s work.
If you’re The Doctor, there’s no such thing as a quiet vacation. You can’t just TARDIS into a quiet little corner of time and space to relax. Something always goes wrong. Often it’s homicidal robots. Sometimes, it’s homicidal aliens. This time, it was a homicidal mummy that could only be seen by the intended victim. For not getting any time to relax, The Doctor doesn’t look too bad for 2,000 years old.