The Latest of my reviews of the Peter Capaldi Era of Doctor Who
Summary: Cyberman, An Army of the Dead and the Master/Mistress more crazy than ever.
Plot: The Doctor and UNIT find themselves trying to cope with the Master/Mistress while Clara finds herself surrounded by Cyberman trying to pass herself off as the regenerated Doctor. The Doctor is made president of the world as the graveyards are emptying of corpses now made into Cybermen with brains downloaded from the “nethersphere” consisting of the minds of the dead from the past and future. Is this a part of the Mistress / Master’s “master” plan or is something else going on?
Writing: ’Steven Moffat’s writing of this episode reminds me of my infrequent attempts at Dungeon mastering 30 years ago. I was absolutely lousy . If I wanted a plot to go somewhere I tended to throw away all the actual plotting in order to create the ending I wanted and that’s what Steven Moffat does here. He decides: “Wouldn’t it be cool if the master was a jealous crazy woman who longed for the Doctor like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction?” and goes from there. So what if the Cybermen one of the primary villains in the history of Doctor Who become basically an afterthought. So what if we decide to give them the power of flight just for the sake of the resolution, so what if we kill off fan favorites just to prove the new Master / Mistress is a crazy bitch (Am I the only one who considered the whole way the “mistress” was written as kinda sexist?) So what if UNIT is reduced to a joke. It’s as if the whole episode was dreamed up like the much better Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Think of a fun premise and write an episode around it and devil take the hindmost. You end up with some cool scenes and some cool lines but it just doesn’t work. I for example as a Doctor Who fan since 1976 have a particular vision of the Doctor that maybe one day I’ll write about but if I forced that vision on the series, it might not work. I think that’s what Moffat is doing. Furthermore he is not writing it for the youthful audience, he is writing it for the adult audience and that’s what killed the series the first time. He’s a great writer but he’s got to stop writing like the guy playing with Doctor Who action figures on his desk…
…and like Harry Anderson in the Devil’s Disciple expect his soldier/actors to bail him out.
Acting: Ok lets say this out front while I think the whole Glenn Close / Master / Mistress business is a horrible idea Michelle Gomez pulls it off to the point where knowing Moffat’s obsession with the Jon Pertwee era the thought of a whole season with Gomez showing up regularly as a villain (say 2-3 or a pair of two part stories) would really work. She & Capaldi reek of chemistry his best scenes are with her & the 51 year old me wants more. Coleman in her not quite swan song is almost an afterthought and Sam Anderson’s Danny Pink gets to make the St. Crispin’s day speech but all overshadowed by the brilliantly almost Tom Bakerishly insane Michelle Gomez.
Memorable Moments: The Salute, the Bow tie, handcuffs, St. Crispin’s day. What rate?
Doctor Who Flashbacks: Bow ties are cool (11th Doctor) The old Cyberhead (assorted) , Father Christmas A Christmas Carol (11th Doctor) The Binary coordinates of Gallifrey Full Circle, Pyramids of Mars (4th Doctor)
Oddities: Shouldn’t every single one of the Doctor’s late companions from Katrina to Sarah Jane to Amy & Rory all have become Cybermen fighting the Cybermen? Steven Moffat lost a great chance to make the story more epic. The concept that they would try to sell the whole “Clara as the Doctor” business in the credits was fun but c’mon!
Pet Peeves: The Master was not on Gallifrey when the Doctor saved it, he avoided the war in Human Form (Utopia), This is a kids show, there were plenty of other ways to establish the Mistress / Master is a crazy jealous murderous bitch than that (of course one can hold out hope that it was the Zygon duplicate). No explanation as to why the Cybermen would be so willing to co-operate with the Master, Making the Cybermen able to fly simply to allow the resolution of the plot was weak and does anyone really believe Human’s would make the Doctor their absolute ruler even in times of emergency?
Clara: Oh don’t be so slow it’s embarrassing. Who could fool you like this. Who could hide right in front of your nose? Who can change their face any time they want? Hm You see I’m not Clara Oswald, Clara Oswald has never existed.
Clara: I’m the Doctor!
Osgood: Would you like a still picture, selfies are never as good are they are you’re having a lovely moment.
The Doctor: Nice Bowtie.
Osgood: Bowties are cool.
Santa Claus: [knocking on TARDIS door in flight] Cooee… [knocking] Hello… Doctor…. you know it can’t end like that hmm. We need to get this sorted and quickly. She’s not alright you know and neither are you. I’m coming in. [opens TARDIS ] Ah there you are, I know I’d get around to you eventually. Stop gopping and tell me…what do you want for Christmas?
Final Verdict: 3 stars Always a bad sign when the Pet Peeves outnumber the quotes. Enough plot holes to strain spaghetti plus a really bad ending (Even Nick Frost fun St. Nick isn’t enough to save it) equals an episode in the bottom 1/3 of the season.
Ranking of Season: 10th of 12. I haven’t been this disappointed with a finale since the first rate Utopia three parter finished with Last of the Time Lords (ironically also featuring Master). What is it about the Master that it brings out the worst in Doctor Who finales? Thank God it wasn’t as bad as that one.
1. The Caretaker
2. Mummy on the Orient Express
3. Into the Dalek
4. Dark Water
7. Robot of Sherwood
8. Time Heist
9. Kill the Moon
10. Death in Heaven
11. Deep Breath
12. In the Forest of the Night