[personal profile] morganminstrel
This was a great episode of Doctor Who. Fun, enjoyable, a wonderful addition of a new companion. It was a great introduction to Bill, and to the mysteries that will apparently surround this season.

It's possible that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the head grow softer, but this might be my favorite episode in quite a long time. I'm going to keep things non-spoilery for a bit, for those who may not have seen the episode.

It took me about 3 minutes in to decide I love Bill as a character and a companion. She's smart and funny, but not obnoxious or bossy or any of the other things many companions before her have been. Not to say she's not assertive, she is, but that's not her dominating trait. And, thankfully, the Moff finally gives us a "less is more" view of a life...that works, unlike Clara's very confusing introduction. We find out all we need to know about Bill within the first 20 minutes (although there are still seeds for further mysteries), and it works. It helps that Pearl Mackie is really engaging and is clearly throwing her heart and soul into this.

As for the Doctor? Peter Capaldi has truly settled into the role in a way that he hadn't before, even last year. He's kind, witty, crazy, funny, a little bit frightening...it's a great evolution from his first season to here...and it gives one an idea of what Colin Baker hoped to do in the role, honestly. (For those who don't know, Baker's plan was to stay as long as he could and to begin as the abrasive Doctor we saw in his televised stories from season 22, gradually mellowing--which definitely started in season 23--into a kind, lovable Doctor. Kind of the way TV allows characters to do so now; he was definitely ahead of his time!) ANYway, this episode makes me even sadder to know Peter will be going at the end of the season, just when he's reaching a brilliant moment with characterization.

And Nardole...well, Matt Lucas is fun, and gets one of my very favorite lines in the episode, but I have no idea why he's there. Apparently, all will become clear as we go on. And hey, I like Nardole. He's fun, silly, perceptive as hell, and a good addition.

The story had nods to the past with a very definite look towards the future, and leaves us with as many longer term questions as it answers. It is, however, very much a "done in one" story, with hints at something bigger, so have no fears about that.

Anyway, a big recommendation from me. I just loved it. And I may post spoilery things later, but I wanted to leave this here so people could read without fear! Hmmm...let's say spoilers in comments, ok?

The Doctor Who Review Depository is down for the moment, due to the move from Livejournal. I'll get it back up and running sometime soon.

Spiral staircase ...

Date: 2017-04-18 07:25 am (UTC)
saavedra77: Back to the byte mines ... (Default)
From: [personal profile] saavedra77
I definitely enjoyed this episode's reset of the character: In a sense, the Doctor comes back to where we first met him. Only not exactly.

Now the Doctor is a professor. He's been teaching for some time--years in fact. His classes are epic, part Ted Talk, part Douglas Adams, almost mystical (all time exists simultaneously--as if another dimension of space--this actually is a recurrent theme in mystical literature: memory, presence, and anticipation as only limited perceptions of a transcendent simultaneity, entanglement--an eternity ...).

So a companion enters the Rock Star professor's life on his personal scholarship. Bill's immediately on to the fact that there's something more than a little ... odd about the fellow. She's one of the few characters who see past the glamor the Doctor casts, notices that certain things don't add up. ("I know a mind wipe when I see one!") It's a promising sign. And, of course, it means trouble, too. This Doctor has a lot to hide. But he's also there for precisely the sort of situation she's about to get into. I won't get into the details, but the episode has the traditional way of weaving together the mundane with the cosmically weird.

Capaldi's performance here interested me, too: Now, I never got into the Colin Baker era of Old Who. So what I saw in early Capaldi were more sartorial and behavioral nods to Jon Pertwee's tart tongue and velvet smoking jackets. (The Sixth Doctor's reputation as an angry clown does at least suggest a kinship to the Third Doctor's reputation as a snappish dandy.) Capaldi version of the character began as a rather irritable figure, dressed like a short-tempered dinner theater magician.

But he mellowed. Last season's farewell to River Song seemed to unscramble the Doctor's emotions. The pained, confused anger of Thirteen's youth (if that's the word?) gave way to a thoughtful, generous maturity.

And that reminds me of someone else.

Now, years later, we find Thirteen apparently in seclusion, having spent years getting over River's death. And look at those two pictures on his desk, like his heart on his sleeve. How many years of misadventure and heartbreak, how many lifetimes, did he spend coming to grips with what he and River were to each other? The picture of his granddaughter, like the return to teaching on earth, reaches right back to the beginning of the series. The generosity comes more easily now, even if he remains secretive and guarded. He loves to share knowledge, share experience and discovery.

What I love best, though, is how Capaldi performs his scenes with Bill: Look at him squint down his nose over a crooked grin, make a sonorously knowing remark or a confusing non-sequitur. I don't think any of the 21st century Doctors has given such a direct Tom Baker impression, yet.

I'm pleased with this turn.

The Doctor's character development seems like a spiral staircase, progressing only by periodically feinting back toward the past.
Edited Date: 2017-04-18 07:54 am (UTC)

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morganminstrel

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