‘Doctor Who’ Season 8 Premieres to Mixed Reviews

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The popular BBC series Doctor Who is currently in a period of transition – one which is familiar to fans and is highlighted in the premiere of the show’s eighth season. For the third time in the newer version (2005) of Doctor Who, the Doctor has regenerated into a new form, which is the fourth time if the series-launching transition to the ninth Doctor counts), and a new actor has taken on the titular mantle. For the past few years, the Doctor’s shoes have been filled by Matt Smith, who played the character with a balance of whimsy and angst. Smith also continued the new series’ trend of having relatively younger actors portray the Doctor.

Season 8 has now bucked that trend with the introduction of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor. The 56-year-old Capaldi is over two decades his predecessor’s senior, harking back to the classic Doctor Who series that often featured an older version of the main character. The eighth season premiere is all about the transition to Capaldi’s version of the infamous hero, a change that is always jarring for fans and characters alike, but potentially even more so with the newest metamorphosis. The season premiere highlights the awkwardness of the character’s age change and how that affects other characters’ perceptions of him. This doubles as a way of acknowledging fans’ hesitation to accept the newer, older and more abrasive Doctor.

That hesitation has mostly been assuaged, however. Fans and critics are nearly unanimous in their support of Capaldi’s performance as the twelfth iteration of everyone’s favorite Time Lord after his early appearances at the end of Matt Smith’s tenure and now in his first full episode. His frantic confusion at his new face and apparent gap of understanding from humanity are jarring at first, but Capaldi is an acclaimed veteran actor and most fans can agree that he is choosing to take the character in a specific direction. The same can not necessarily be said of the story in the season premiere. The second half of Season 7 has been widely disapproved of by fans and critics and to many, the actual plot and events of the Season 8 premiere do not fix the flaws of the most recent season. Among moments of character growth, villains get recycled and multiple plot points converge with very little explanation or reason and generally do not move forward as a whole.

With the story line and pacing being the most-agreed upon flaw in the Season 8 premiere, it could be intended to be scattered and mildly confusing – just as Capaldi’s performance seemed to be. With the extra-long season premiere and bumpy transition to the new face of the show’s hero complete, the second episode featuring The Doctor’s arch-nemeses, the Daleks, could kick the new season into full gear. Hopes were generally high for the Season 8 premiere of Doctor Who, although for some, expectations were low. Some criticisms of the pacing and writing were vindicated, but for the most part, fans and critics walked away from the newest episode satisfied and entertained, looking forward to new adventures with a new Doctor.

Opinion by Matt Isaacs

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The Mary Sue

8 Responses to "‘Doctor Who’ Season 8 Premieres to Mixed Reviews"

  1. dave   September 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Very disappointed it’s dr.who so i watched but I won’t be for much longer
    Should the series continue like this.
    I thought we were promised series fit for adults again pg for children but having seen 4 episode s
    I am afraid it is gonna be a real children s show now.
    Too bad

  2. Deb   September 14, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    The new doctor is over 2000 yrs old. Why is he so child-like and without the humanity of Tennant or Smith? Capaldi said in an episode “It’s times like this I miss Amy”. He remembers. He would also remember the possibility of saving Gallifrey. Did their giving him this extra regeneration destroy their chances of being found? Clara is his “carer” so he doesn’t have to…shouldn’t he care more now? We are back to Eccleston’s view of the human race as “pudding brains”. Also in first episode the doctor said “I’ve seen this face before. What am I trying to tell myself?” Again, humanity…Gallifrey? Capaldi is great actor bringing life to the character Moffat has in mind. I just don’t get what Moffat has in mind. Where is the 2000 years of learning, loss, humanity, etc? Perhaps a visit from River?

  3. jane   September 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Am a life long fan, watched dr who from episorde 1. Sorry but hate this one although he is a brilliant actor the stories are boring and not worth watching. Its just not the dr i have loved for many years. What happened ? I am very disappointed.

  4. wyzard999   August 28, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    It’s a new doctor, a whole new entity. I’m amazed and slightly upset at the show runner. Couldn’t you have pursued a story line that made sense. Did we really need a TRex ?
    One that swallowed the TARDIS ? How about a story with a large helping of action and
    something to make you think and get involved ?

    We haven’t seen the last of the other Doctors. Especially the War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor. The Moment is one of the most intriguing characters ever created. To appear in the guise of Rose Tyler was truly amazing writing. I would love to see her again.

    Rose Tyler was the spirit that brought life and soul to the new Doctor. She is so very special. She looked into the heart of the TARDIS. She was forever changed. She looked as though she was regenerating. Rose is a Time Lady

    Was the first episode satisfying? Yes, because of what it was. Because of our expectations. It is Doctor Who. Should the storylines of Day of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor be considered in context ?

    Did you just say .. Bad Wolfe ?

    There are so many storylines that could be followed.

  5. theron   August 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    matt smith was really funny

  6. Keorfas Blaidd Drwg   August 27, 2014 at 6:13 am

    I kinda think that it was quite like Tennant’s debut in more ways than one… http://justsaying.sg/take-deep-breath-doctor-returns/

  7. whatAaronsays   August 27, 2014 at 4:09 am

    see my reaction… 🙂 http://youtu.be/YUq36jzElVU

  8. Elaine Mcd   August 26, 2014 at 9:04 am

    loved it 🙂

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