DVD review: Doctor Who The Complete Eighth Series

Doctor Who 8

Calling all Whovians.

The BBC is organising the Doctor Who Complete Eighth Series Fan Marathon on December 13.

“Spread the word amongst fellow Whovians #watchingWho to make this the biggest, most unique Doctor Who event of its kind,” the maker of the British series in a statement emailed to fans in Australasia.

“We’re calling on you and your legions to make history… so block out December 13, spread the word #watchingWho, gather your fellow fans, stage a viewing party of any size (even 1) and participate in this epic marathon, where we unite to watch all 12 explosive episodes of Series 8, just in time for the Christmas Special.”

The eighth series was released on DVD in November after finishing its three month run on Prime in which a darker, less approving of humans Doctor, emerged.

Here’s what I thought of each episode in a few lines per story.

Deep Breath: The feature length debut of Peter Capaldi cleverly explored audience apprehension through companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) as to why the new Doctor looked so old after Matt Smith’s younger version of the character. Show runner Steven Moffat reworked a storyline from a tenth Doctor episode, The Girl In The Fireplace, tacking on the mystery of Missy (Michelle Gomez) who is snatching the Doctor’s foes from time. Obviously another Time Lord, but who?

Into the Dalek: Every actor who plays the Doctor is measured by his reaction to his arch enemy the Daleks. This story, though, cleverly takes Capaldi and Coleman where the show has never been before. Inside a Dalek, Inner Space style. A stronger story than the series opener.

Robot of Sherwood: The Doctor takes Clara to Sherwood Forest to prove that Robin Hood is a fictional character only to encounter the charming rogue. A piece of light, inconsequential, fluff which, frankly, signifies nothing.

Listen: If Into the Dalek explored the psyche of the Doctor’s enemy, Listen explores our hero’s inner self and even takes us back to his childhood on Gallifrey. This story left me with more questions than answers, uncertain exactly what had been vanquished.

Time Heist: The Doctor, Clara, and their gang are hired to break into the toughest bank in history, their minds temporarily wiped to get past the telepathic Teller. This alien can read criminal intent and turn the guilty into mental vegetables. Nothing is as it seems in this real stand out of a story.

The Caretaker: The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School, where Clara is teaching, to stop an alien incursion. Clara’s new beau Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) is inadvertently given a chance to prove himself.

Kill The Moon: The Doctor lands Clara and a pupil on the moon where they encounter an expedition sent to investigate why the satellite has “put on weight”. The conclusion is stunning, the Doctor running off in the TARDIS at the last minute leaving the fate of the moon in the hands of Clara and co. Ultimately the story is about peer pressure, and a very good one to watch with the kids.

Mummy on the Orient Express: After last week I was surprised to see Clara travelling with the Doctor again. They predictably investigate the sudden appearance of a killer mummy on a space version of the Orient Express. Arguably the silliest episode of Doctor Who for a very long time.

Flatline: Be scared, be terrified, as a new two dimensional monster steps out from graffiti onto the Doctor Who stage. This is the most original story of the season and both Capaldi and Coleman shine in it. Worth the watch for the dramatic “I am the Doctor” speech at the end.

In The Forest of the Night: I was beginning to wonder if I was watching the Clara and Danny show, as this episode explores their relationship in depth while a forest overgrows London. Again, there’s a nice twist at the end but I want more Doctor in my Who!

Dark Water: It takes all episode to see the glorious recreation of that classic shot of Cybermen invading London from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. But it’s worth it. And then there’s the reveal of who Missy is. No, not the Rani, but the Master after all.

Death in Heaven: The Doctor is made President of the world by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce as the Master reveals she has given the Doctor a Cybermen army from the world’s dead. The series’ loose ends are tied up, but I can’t help feeling that I’ve missed something this series. Matt Smith’s still my favourite Doctor, Capaldi not helped by the spiky character he has played all season.

The complete eighth series appears on four DVDs and packs a fifth which includes a 10 minutes behind the scenes documentary for each episode as well as a couple of 45 minute documentaries hosted by fifth Doctor Peter Davison. Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord and The Ultimate Companion each explore what goes into creating a new Doctor’s regeneration and new companions.

The highlight of the extras is Doctor Who: Earth Conquest: The World Tour which joins the cast as they launch the new series around the globe.

This is a DVD set which is most definitely bigger on the inside.


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