Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 9

“Time will tell, it always does”

Phew, the Doctor Who rewatch comes to an end with the most recent series, another that I hadn’t seen any of since it originally aired. And again it was one of highs and lows, a frustrating sense of pick and mix that never settles. So from the astonishing bravura of the (practically) solo performance in Heaven Sent to kid-friendly quirks of the sonic sunglasses and guitar playing, Capaldi took us from the sublime to the silly. Fortunately there was more of the former than the latter (although it is interesting that my memory had it the other way round).

Part of it comes down to knowing in advance how the hybrid arc plays out (disappointingly) and a little perspective makes Clara’s departure(s) a little less galling. This way, one can just enjoy the episodes for what they are, free from the weight of the attempted mythologising. The Doctor raging against the futility of war, the wisdom (or otherwise) of forgiveness, the repercussions of diving in to help others without thinking through the consequences…it is often excellent stuff. It’s also nice to see Who employ its first openly transgender actor (Bethany Black) and a deaf actor playing a deaf character (Sophie Stone).

Episodes, in order of preference

Heaven Sent
The Zygon Inversion
The Zygon Invasion
The Woman Who Lived
The Girl Who Died
The Magician’s Apprentice
The Witch’s Familiar
Face the Raven
Before the Flood
Under the Lake
Hell Bent
Last Christmas
Sleep No More
The Husbands of River Song

Top 5 guest spots

1 Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Stewart, rarely putting a foot wrong since being introduced a while back
2 T’nia Miller’s newly regenerated Gallifreyan general is the perfect baiting of all traditional attitudes
3 Representing for Wigan, Ian Conningham is a tenderly moving Viking father
4 Gruffudd Glyn and Reuben Johnson amuse as the bantering pikemen in The Woman Who Lived
5 Davros is a stalwart of many an adventure but Julian Bleach’s injection of real personality was a proper eye-opener

Saddest death

It’s operatically overblown and ultimately undone by the machinations of the following episodes, but I’m putting Clara’s demise in here.

Most wasted guest actor

Even with the shortest of scenes, Robin Soans is heart-breakingly good in Face the Raven

Most important thing that is never mentioned again (or has never been mentioned before)

Extraction chambers…puh-lease

Gay agenda rating

C – aside from Clara alluding to having snogged Jane Austen, Who’s famed gay agenda really is lacking under Moffatt’s reign


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