Monday, December 29, 2014

Television Review: Doctor Who Season Eight

by Mord Fiddle
So disappointing.

I thought we'd seen the last of Clara Oswald.  At the end of Death in Heaven I said to myself, 'Well self," ('self' being what I call myself when we're alone) "With any luck Moffat has finally cut loose the Clara Oswald sea-anchor and now Doctor Who's center of gravity can shift back to its titular character.  Now that every episode doesn't have to revolve around Clara, Capaldi will have the elbow-room needed to put his own stamp on The Doctor."

Then, Last Christmas, 2014s Christmas episode of Doctor Who, dropped a wagon full of coal on me.

I have dubbed season eight of Doctor Who 'The Fan-Fiction' season.  One could see it coming on.  Under Moffat's tenure, periodic fan-fic episodes have been a reality since the onset of season six.  He was restrained about it that year - an episode here and there, usually by a guest writer. However, with the arrival of Clara Oswald (a fairly blatant Mary Sue) Moffat's control began to slip.  Season seven was one long, slippery fan-fiction slope with Oswald's 'impossible girl' waiting for us at the bottom.

Since the arrival of Peter Capaldi at the beginning of season eight, episodes of Doctor Who have largely revolved around Clara Oswald.

To an extent this is understandable. During the Tennet and Smith years Doctor Who developed a strong romance-oriented following.  While Moffat and company wanted to cast the post-Matt Smith Doctor as an older, cynical and far less romantic Doctor, no one wanted to lose this new romance-oriented demographic.  In Deep Breath, season eight's opening episode, when Madame Vastra took Clara to task for recoiling from the The Doctor because he was no longer young and a potential love interest, Moffat was speaking to the part of the audience that viewed The Doctor through a romantic lens.  That plot-line was a careful threading of the needle, and while it was a self conscious plot-line that put the episode out of balance, it was a needed farewell to the Doctor as romantic interest

That done, I thought we could move on. Have a little fun, run a nice dramatic story arc or two, and save a few worlds without it having to do with Clara for a while. Sadly, season eight turned into all Clara all the time. Every single plot was Clara-centric. I'd venture that Jenna Coleman has had more screen time in Peter Capaldi's first season as The Doctor than Peter Capaldi. 

First it was Clara as love interest, coming to terms with the Doctor as a non-romantic figure, which meant they had to give Clara a new love interest (because god forbid Clara not have a romantic subplot in her life).

Then it turned into Clara as daughter figure, which meant her love interest must be someone the Doctor would disapprove of and who would disapprove of The Doctor so we could play up the father-daughter-boyfriend triangle.

And then it was all 'Ooh Doctor I so hate you (for no good reason, but it's in the script therefore), you must leave and never come back".

And then it was all "Ooh, Doctor, I'm all sad and conflicted because my loyalties are torn between you and my boyfriend, and therefore I must lie to you both in order to continue our adventures in time and space on the sly."

And then it was all "Ooh, Doctor, I'm so distraught at having distracted my boyfriend by pronouncing my complete and total love to him (over the phone) as he was crossing a busy street, thereby killing him. Bring him back or I'll destroy all you hold dear."

GAH! {Bangs head on keyboard}

Anyway (ow), with Clara and The Doctor apparently parting ways at the end of the season I thought we were done with Doctor Who revolving around this banal instance of Mary Sue flotsam. Oh, I knew she'd be back at some point for a visit during Capaldi's final season. Maybe for a special episode. I even half suspected that this Christmas episode might end up being a cozy farewell to Clara. Which I was prepared for.  Really. Totally cool with it so long as the Tardis would hie off after the closing credits, leaving Clara and Earth in the rear-view mirror for a while.

But no. Apparently no decent movie offers came in for Jenna Coleman and we'll be stuck with her for another season.  Clara Oswald, like sidewalk gum on a hot summer day, is proving a bit of a tough scrape to get off the bottom of the Doctor Who shoe.

Wake me for the 2015 Christmas special.

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