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The Friendly Dalek

My huge Doctor Who episode marathon.

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Dark Water- This is one of the best opening episodes a modern Who finale has ever had. I adore this one. 

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are at their best. The scenes in the TARDIS in the first half are absolutely superb. Steven Moffat crafted an excellently paced episode, and the supporting characters are interesting, and the small cast does help. Michelle Gomez finally gets to play a large role, and she is fantastic. 

The opening sequence is heartbreaking to watch. As a fan of the Danny character, seeing that happen to him certainly got to me when I watched it for the first time back in 2014, and even now it's a highly impactful scene. 

The 3W institute is a rather creepy location, and the imagery of the skeletons sat in the tanks is very effective. The cliffhanger is also one of my favourites. 

The exploration of the idea of an afterlife is very interesting, and the concept of the dead still highly conscious is a somewhat disturbing one. I have rewatched this one quite a few times, and I love it more every time. It is one of the few episodes where I can not think f a single fault. It is a superb episode in every way.

Overall- 10/10. 

Death In Heaven- I watch Dark Water often. I barely ever continue and watch this one. Dark Water is an example of a pretty much perfect episode. This is a prime example of wasted potential and an underwhelming resolution. There are going to be spoilers in this if anyone is worried about that. 

Let's start with the positives. The acting is great all around, especially from Capaldi, Gomez, Coleman and Anderson. The episode is very well shot, and the directing by Rachael Talalay is brilliant, as is the music.

Michelle Gomez is an excellent Master. She is perfect proof that a female Doctor could work, as a female Master clearly can. Gomez is so energetic, and is clearly having a blast in the role. She is always a joy to watch. The ending of the relationship between Clara and Danny is very well done, and Danny's send off is an emotive one. 

I do have some major issues with this episode, mainly revolving around the Cybermen. I don't know how Moffat's era managed to consistently disappoint when it comes to Cyberman stories. The issue with the Cybermen here is how they are created and what they are. The idea of the Cybermen containing actual skeletons, and the "Cyberpollen" converting dead people into Cybermen, kills the initial concept of the Cybermen and what makes them creepy in the first place. I had this same rant regarding Nightmare In Silver, but it's still true here. There Cybermen are simply no where near as creepy, and I still don't like this particular design of theirs. The Cybermen are also secondary to Missy here, and I don't like how modern Who almost always makes them lesser to something or someone else in their own stories.

I adore the character of The Brigadier. Nicholas Courtney was perfect as the character and he will always be an important part of Who history. This is why it annoys me every time that I see the Cyber Brigadier in this episode. That was a stupid idea, and I'm com-lately against the idea that The Brig is now a Cybermen flying around somewhere. The character should have been left to rest, rather than being desecrated like that for an attempt at crafting an emotional scene. I'm sure Moffat's heart was in the right place when he wrote it but the execution was way off in my eyes. 

Everything outside of the graveyard is  pretty poor in my opinion. Making The Doctor the "President of the World" is so stupid it still hurts to watch. The plane sequence is uninteresting any time that Michelle Gomez isn't on screen. Capaldi and Redgrave (who is also sublime) do their best but the writing just isn't good enough.

The final scenes between The Doctor and Clara are very good, and the scene where The Doctor has a sort of break-down in the TARDIS is very well acted by Capaldi.

Overall this episode is a major disappointment, especially when compared to the brilliance of the first part. It gives a neat resolution to The Doctor and Clara's arcs for this series, but the episode itself is poorly written, badly paced, and utterly wastes the Cybermen. There are some bright spots though, including the acting, music and the sequences in the graveyard. 

Overall- 4/10.

Overall rating for Series 8- 8/10

This is one of the best series of modern Who for a while. I love how this series different from others thanks to the Doctor/Clara/Danny dynamic. That adds a nice new layer of drama to the show, and it certainly made episodes like The Caretaker more interesting. Capaldi's Doctor is hugely different when compared to Tennant and Smith, and that works wonderfully. As much as I love Tennant and Smith, this is the type of Doctor that I love. I also like how the main arc of this series is simply The Doctor trying to discover wether or not he is a good man. It's not a hugely complicated and overblown plot like wat we had for most of Smith's run. Instead it is a small scale examination and development of a character, and I definitely prefer this approach. The episodes themselves are great for the most part, and when this series is at it's best it knocks it out of the park in terms of episode quality. 

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Dark Water - Couldn't agree with more. I love this one. 

Danny's death is so mundane. Follow this with the scenes between Clara and The Doctor and you have one of the strongest starts to any episode. It just improves from there. 

Capaldi and Coleman are excellent as usual. The chemistry between them is brilliant. The concept of 3W is very creepy. The pacing of this episode is just right. There is a nice mix between comedy and darkness. Talalay demonstrates what an excellent director she is. 

And so to Michelle Gomez. The Master has always been one of my favourite characters. And Gomez makes a great addition to the role. It's early days but I feel Moffat really understands the character and the relationship with the Doctor. I am glad I managed to miss any spoilers on the internet so the reveal is a big surprise. 

Overall 10/10

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Death in Heaven  - Oh dear. Moffat means well and there is a lot to like about this episode but also a lot to dislike. 

Our 2 leads and the main support of Anderson and Gomez are great. The episode starts well enough outside St Paul's Cathedral, goes down hill in the middle but the ending in the graveyard on the whole works. 

I really don't like the way the Cybermen are portrayed. They do not pose much of a threat. And it may be a nostalgic moment but making the Brigadier a cyberman just doesn't work. Danny Pink's sacrifice is played well. I love the ending between Clara and The Doctor. Plus The Doctor's breakdown in the TARDIS. 

Overall 6/10.

 

This was on the whole a great first series for Capaldi. The only episode I really don't like is Kill The Moon. Capaldi's Doctor is showing some great character development. He hasn't made it to the number one position for me yet but I love his portrayal. I prefer the Doctor as an older man (no disrespect to the previous modern era doctors who are all great). For me this is the best first series for any doctor. 

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I have a question as a casual Doc watcher with a poor memory:

At the end of that Cybermen episode, had they turned all the dead, buried bodies of the world in to Cyberpeople who then flew into space and exploded? If so, how messed up is that? Would that not cause worldwide mental devastation that Granny isn't in her grave anymore?

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15 minutes ago, natedammit said:

I have a question as a casual Doc watcher with a poor memory:

At the end of that Cybermen episode, had they turned all the dead, buried bodies of the world in to Cyberpeople who then flew into space and exploded? If so, how messed up is that? Would that not cause worldwide mental devastation that Granny isn't in her grave anymore?

That is correct. This show has a tendency to do things like that and then not explore the consequences which would be present if something like that were to really happen. 

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12 minutes ago, The Friendly Dalek said:

That is correct. This show has a tendency to do things like that and then not explore the consequences which would be present if something like that were to really happen. 

That could make a good Black Mirror episode dealing with the aftermath.

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Last Christmas- I actually really enjoy this one. It's not the best of Capaldi's run, but it's very fun.

Capaldi and Coleman are excellent, and the scene with an older Clara is great. Nick Frost is the highlight of this one. I love him in most things I've seen him in, so seeing him make an appearance in Doctor Who is really nice. Of the rest of the cast, Faye Marsay is the standout (if you know about the behind-the-scenes story regarding her character then this makes complete sense), but everyone does a good job. Samuel Anderson's cameo in the dream world leads to another great scene between Danny and Clara. 

The dream crabs are a very interesting monster. Their design is nothing special, but what they do is certainly unique (although it does remind me of Amy's Choice). This episode has a sort of Inception-style feel to it, with multi-layered dream sequences, which makes it stand out from other episodes from this era. The pacing is very good, and the set design is great. This episode also excels as a Christmas story, and is far better than Moffat's previous efforts. 

Overall- 8/10.

This episode is just a lot of fun, with some great guest performances and an intriguing story.

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Last Christmas  - It's nice to have a Christmas special with a Christmas feel about it. 

This episode is a lot of fun. The humour works well. Capaldi and Coleman are great and have some brilliant scenes. I'm glad we got to see more of Clara but it would have made for an interesting exit if she had left as an old lady. I love the that scene - a nice throwback to The Time of the Doctor when The Doctor was an old man. 

Nick Frost is excellent. The rest of the support cast are good but not especially memorable. I enjoy Samuel Anderson's cameo. 

The dream crabs are an interesting concept. Certainly paves the way to do what you like with the story. 

Definitely one that I can happily watch again. 

Overall 8/10

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The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar-

The Magician's Apprentice is an excellent start. Peter Capaldi excels, and his transition to a more laid back Doctor feels like a natural progression from where series 8 left off. Jenna Coleman is great, and Michelle Gomez is brilliant. The opening sequence is very effective. Colony Sarff is a weak link for me, I don't know what it is about him but I just don't find him interesting in the slightest. The pacing is very good, and the cliffhanger is very good. The main attraction of this story is of course The Daleks and Davros, and they do not disappoint. The Daleks aren't in much of this episode, but they feel more threatening in this short appearance than they did in most Smith era Dalek stories. The "extermination" of Missy and Clara is what makes this work. The visuals are great and the episode is well shot. 

Overall- 8/10. 

The Witch's Familiar- Firstly, I like how the episode explains how Missy and Clara survived the previous episode, as it also explains how Missy survived in Death In Heaven. The greatest aspect of this episode in my eyes is the interactions between The Doctor and Davros. I always love seeing these two interact, as their interactions are so unique. There's no other character in this universe like Davros. Julian Bleach was brilliant in the series 4 finale, but I think he is even better here. This episode allows him to show off a much wider range, and it pays off excellently. Capaldi is also given amazing material. Every scene involving these two is amazing, and seeing brief glimpses of Davros' story is effective, although it makes me wonder why Davros didn't remember who The Doctor was when they met for the first time in Genesis, although I guess it had been a long time so Davros probably forgot about him. 

Now I have one issue with Davros here, and it is a pretty major one (at least in my eyes it is). This issue is the fact that Davros has eyes. Not only that, but he can open them. Modern Who contradicts classic Who often, but surely Davros' backstory should remain unchanged? His eyes were supposed to be burned shut in the accident which crippled him, hence why he has the blue eye, it allows him to see. But I guess now it's canon that he's had eyes the entire time. Canon is a fickle thing in the Whoniverse, I know, but the fundamental stories behind major recurring characters shouldn't be changed to this extent. 

The Daleks themselves are utilised effectively, and I love seeing the Supreme Dalek from series 4 again. I don't know why that one stands out to me so much but it's one of my favourites. Unfortunately, something is done to The Daleks which I hated, and that is the idea that the Dalek shell changes what the creature inside it says. There were many things which Clara couldn't say when she was inside the Dalek. This is what bothers me. When it comes to Daleks, it is the creature itself that is hateful. The Daleks themselves are designed to be ruthless. The shell is just a thing they have to use to survive in. I just take issue with the idea that the Dalek shell changes what is said by the creature inside. Why would the Dalek shells be designed to do this if Daleks would never say those things anyway, because they are conditioned to not say those things. It's not like a creature which isn't a Dalek entering the shells is a common occurrence. It's another contradiction of lore which I find annoying. It leads to a good moment of tension when Clara is trying to tell The Doctor who she is when they are reunited, but other than that it's a decision I wasn't fond of.

The way the Daleks are defeated is also rather silly. This is a thing that I never really paid attention to before, but whenever the Master is introduced to an established monster the show tends to downplay it. When the Delgado Master met the Daleks for the first time in Frontier In Space, that should have been a huge moment, but instead they don't even share 5 minutes of screen time, and nothing is done with it. Davros meeting Missy should have been a huge moment, but instead it is glossed over in a very quick scene. 

The visuals are still just as great as the previous episode, but the pacing feels off, and I'm still waiting to see any sort of consequence to Davros and The Daleks stealing some of The Doctor's regeneration energy. This wasn't referred to when 12 died, and the next Dalek story, Resolution, also ignored this fact. As a result of it basically being ignored, it lessens the impact this sequence has upon rewatch. I'm hoping a future Dalek story will refer to this but I doubt it will. So overall, the acting is fantastic from everyone, the Daleks are well utilised, and the episode is great from a visual and directorial standpoint, but is weakened by the writing. 

Overall- 7/10.

This is a very good start to series 9. TMA is a great opener, and TWF, while not as strong as the previous episode, is still a very good follow up, but I personally have some major issues with it which stops it from being as good as TMA in my eyes. 

 

Edited by The Friendly Dalek
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The Magician's Apprentice - A brilliant opening episode. I love the character progression of Capaldi's Doctor. His performance is excellent. Jenna Coleman is great. Michelle Gomez I can really believe is The Master. Her performance is more restrained than in series 8 which I prefer. Moffat takes the complex relationship between The Doctor and The Master to a new level. Along with his writing and the performances of Capaldi and Gomez you can really feel the friendship between them. The writing, production and pacing are all spot on. I like the flashbacks to a young Davros. The Daleks are a proper threat in this episode and the cliffhanger is brilliant. Colony Sarff has the potential (for me) to be a great villain and I would have liked this to have been explored further in a later episode.

Overall 10/10

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The Witch's Familiar - You have so many different relationships going on and they are well written and performed. It's interesting to see Clara interact with Missy. But the main interaction has to be between The Doctor and Davros. This is extremely well written and acted. You can feel two enemies who also have a lot of respect for each other. Julian Bleach reprises his role excellently. The production is superb. The pacing is a little off at times. The defeat of The Daleks is all a little too convenient.

You certainly picked up on some interesting points that I hadn't thought of.

Davros has eyes - OK. Moffat has changed canon to fit the story but it works within the overall episode.

The Daleks - I had always presumed the outer casing was a life support system to support the creature inside. Therefore with someone good inside the shell (like Clara) surely she should have been able to communicate as Clara. But that would have spoiled the interaction between Dalek Clara and The Doctor.

Davros and The Daleks stealing some regeneration energy with no consequence seen later - Difficult. You could view this as regeneration energy only working for Time Lords. Maybe it just has a temporary rejuvenation effect on other species. That way you could get away without a long term consequence.

Obviously we know that The Doctor never killed a child Davros. But I love the flashback to The Doctor being Davros' rescuer.

Although a great episode it doesn't quite reach the heights of TMA.

Overall 8/10

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Under The Lake/Before The Flood- This is easily among my favourite Capaldi era episodes. I adore this two parter.

I love a good ghost story, and this story excels as one, especially in the first half. This story is excellently shot, and the pacing is great. The underwater base setting reminds me a lot of the base-under-siege stories that were a major part of classic Who, especially at points such as the Troughton era, and being reminiscent of the peak of classic Who is never a bad thing. 

The cast is excellent, and top marks go to Sophie Stone as Cass. I love how well the fact that she was deaf was incorporated in the plot, and it was in no way derivative. She has some excellent scenes. The score is fantastic, and this episode does a great job at building tension and being hugely atmospheric. The cliffhanger is excellent.

You'd think that this would be another example where the second part doesn't live up the quality of the first, but thankfully this isn't the case here. Before The Flood is an equally brilliant follow up. Capaldi's opening monologue is a great showcase of his acting talent, and he keeps up this level of quality for the whole thing. This episode utilises time travel in a very effective and clever fashion. The Fisher King looks magnificent. My one complaint is that I wish he had a little more screen time, but otherwise he's served his purpose brilliantly. 

I think that this is as close to flawless in Capaldi's era. There are more stories to come of this quality, but this ranks among his best in my eyes. I rewatch this one quite often because it is so entertaining and well paced. I have no issues with it.

Overall- 10/10.

I think I like this two parter a lot more than most, but hey, that's the wonderful subjectivity of this. I think this is a modern classic, and there are more 10s still to come from Capaldi's era. I do wonder what the detracting factors are in other people's eyes though, because as far as I know this one is well regarded but not considered a classic.

Edited by The Friendly Dalek
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I remember enjoying that two-parter but in order to contribute more fully to this thread I'd need to go and watch the episodes in question again and tbh I'm too lazy to put the effort in.

I enjoy reading the thread though!

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Under The Lake/Before The Flood  - This is indeed an excellent 2 parter. One of my favourites. 

Capaldi and Coleman are excellent. Their Doctor/Companion relationship is brilliant as they work so well together. 

The support cast all play their parts well. It is great to see actors with a disability being treated as a regular character. 

I love the claustrophobic setting of the under water base. It adds to the ghostly feel. The writing, music and production are all superb. 

The cliffhanger is excellent. Capaldi looks quite creepy as a ghost. :lol:

Very clever use of the bootstrap paradox at the beginning of the second part. 

I to would have liked to have seen more of The Fisher King but that's a minor complaint. 

Overall 10/10

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Like @Bumper8 I am enjoying reading this thread. However confession time  - I am also using it as an excuse to rewatch old episodes. Not that I need an excuse. My main challenge  - finding the time to stay a couple of episodes ahead of you! :lol:

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