Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Twelfth Doctor

Back when I first joined the Geeks, I did a series of posts highlighting the First through Eleventh Doctors. When I finished with Eleven, we had just finished with the Twelfth Doctor--and forgotten much of the first two seasons. Now he’s been done for a couple years, but I’ve had the chance to rewatch the series. Now I can properly highlight Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. So after rewatching Series 8-10, here we go with Twelve.

Series 8

Top Story: Dark Water/Death in Heaven

First off, I hate that Danny Pink died. Why? We built it all up with him and Clara for a whole season (remember Orson Pink?) and then BAM! He walks into traffic. But Danny Pink is a rant for another day. Besides Danny’s death, I loved this story for bringing in so many Doctor Who characters in brilliant formation. We got UNIT returning with Kate and Osgood, Missy (as the regenerated Master), and even an appearance from the Brigadier (in Cyberman form). I love it when Doctor Who reinforces its continuity in episodes like these. We finally found out who Missy was and why she was meeting all these dead people from throughout the season. Unfortunately, she was killed off too soon…. Or was she?

Flop Story: Listen
When I first watched this episode, I thought it was great. Maybe even on par with “Blink”. However, upon rewatching it, it bugged me. If a creature is the perfect hider, why did it suddenly decide to “show” itself to the Doctor and tease its existence? And then in the end, it was just Clara to instill this fear in the Doctor? And what was that thing on Rupert’s bed? It’s a thrilling idea and a great episode in a way, but there are so many plot holes that upon rewatch it was unbearable.

Honorable Mention: Deep Breath
This was quite the regeneration story. To some extent, I don’t agree with how upset Clara was from the start--but once he started abandoning her, I felt like she was justified. However, by the end, the Doctor was himself again (well, his new self) and we even got a cameo from his past life. This was also our first introduction to Missy (we’d later find out who she really was) and we got an allusion back to the Tenth Doctor era and the Madame de Pompadour. I always love a good Easter egg. 

Series 9

Top Story: The Husbands of River Song
After such a dark season it was nice to get some comic relief during this Christmas special. Alex Kingston and Peter Capaldi working together was amazing. I wish we could have had more of these two together. Their dramatic and comedic timing was amazing. It was so sweet to see River realize that the Doctor cared for her as much as she did for him. And in the end we got to see River’s story come full circle, as she spent her last night with the Doctor before the Library.

Flop Story: The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived
I didn’t like this story for one simple reason: I didn’t find Ashildr/Me intriguing. The story felt kind of bland compared to other Twelfth Doctor stories and I didn’t like that by the end of the second story Me was just left without closure. Oddly enough, I actually liked her character in “Face the Raven” and “Hell Bent”, but not in her introductory episodes.

Honorable Mention: Face the Raven/Heaven Sent/Hell Bent
These three episodes were separate enough stories that it was almost more like a trilogy of stories instead of a three-part story. Clara had a good send-off in “Face the Raven'', fitting for her character. The three-part finale gave us the return of Ashildr/Me (which I’ve already addressed above). Finally, it gave us the return of the Time Lords and Gallifrey for the first time since they were saved by the thirteen Doctors. I love that they brought back Rassilon (regenerated after the Master killed him in “The End of Time”) and the General from “The Day of the Doctor”. But of course the Doctor ended up running away, leaving the Time Lords for another day.

Series 10
Top Story: Extremis/Pyramid at the End of the World/Lie of the Land
Another trilogy of episodes that pulled me in. “Extremis” was mind-bending. Kind of left a chill like the audience had to wonder if they could be in a simulation and not know it. We never even knew that the Doctor wasn’t real until the very end. Then we go into “Pyramid”, racing against time (and they didn’t even realize it), leading directly into “Lie of the Land”. It was exciting and heart-warming. The solution is love—love is stronger than fear. A lesson we could all use as human beings… but then again, as the Doctor noted, we never learn from our mistakes—humans forget—a symptom of pride and the human experience.

Flop Story: Smile
This episode was possibly the creepiest of the season, even more than the monks. It should have been my favorite episode, but instead of finding any sort of meaningful resolution in the story, the Doctor just reset the Vardi and told the humans to figure it out. Felt anticlimactic. The concept reminded me of “Happiness Patrol” where it was illegal to be anything but happy. It’s ok to have emotions; it’s human. If we didn’t have emotions, we’d be Cybermen. The Vardi treated grief as a virus, but it’s part of our humanity. “Granting all your wishes is not a good idea.”

Honorable Mention: World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls
The return of the Mondasian Cybermen. Bill’s tragic end. Return of the Master. It was a wonderful amalgamation of Doctor Who continuity. It was an interesting writing choice to “kill” Bill early on and turn her into a Cyberman. I really liked Bill! Why’d they have to kill her? At least she got a happy ending in her own way--same with Nardole. I loved seeing Missy show that she’d truly changed and come to the Doctor’s side… even if he never saw it. Goes to show what can happen when someone believes in you. And finally the ending… the Doctor… the original.

Special Story: Twice Upon a Time
It’s been decades since we had a multi-Doctor story for a non-anniversary episode. This episode featured the return of David Bradley, who had previously portrayed William Hartnell in "An Adventure in Space and Time". I loved the callbacks to the First Doctor’s regeneration story. We also had the introduction of the Brigadier’s grandfather and the return of Rusty. In the end, it was a nice send-off for the Twelfth Doctor. He was already fatally injured fighting the Cybermen, so his regeneration was inevitable. So instead of having some mystery big bad for the episode, we found out the “big bad” wasn’t so bad. 


Clara (11th Doctor) - Hell Bent
Nardole Extremis (flashback) - The Doctor Falls
Bill The Pilot - The Doctor Falls

Favorite Companion: I was pleasantly surprised with Bill’s character. I wrote my first impressions in a post after “The Pilot” but she got even better as the season went on. I liked her optimism. She’d been through a lot in her life, but she kept her positive attitude regardless of what hit her. Even after it seemed like the Doctor abandoned her in “Lie of the Land”. The world could use more people like Bill.

Least Favorite Companion: I loved Clara as a companion of the Eleventh Doctor and even through her tenure with Twelve. However, during my rewatch, I got annoyed with how awfully she treated Danny, lying to him and sneaking behind his back. And then after his death (which I’m still mad about) she got so reckless; it would have been much nicer if she’d said goodbye to the Doctor during “Last Christmas”.

Which was your favorite Peter Capaldi story? Would you want to see the Twelfth Doctor return for a 60th anniversary special in 2023?

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