The memory cheats.
I’ve never really considered myself as being a massive fan of Series 8. I’ve always liked it to an extent, I don’t dislike any series of the revival, but it was always a series I considered to be a bit weak. It’s a bit of an odd opinion to me to have had, as it introduced (and for a while was the only series to feature) my favourite Tardis team, and it does contain a couple of my favourite Who stories ever, but on the whole, I didn’t really care for it. I don’t think I had seen it in full since it aired actually. I would watch Mummy on the Orient Express a fair bit, and Robot of Sherwood if I needed cheering up or just felt like watching a bit of Who, but on the whole , frankly I didn’t really give a shit about it. I thought it was okay as I said, but why would I rewatch that series when I could rewatch Series 1 or Series 5? I’m sure I’ll rewatch it again. Sometime. Eventually. But why bother now?
I’m glad I did bother. I’m glad I decided to rewatch this series. I’m glad I decided to approach everything with an open mind and not “oh crap, In the Forest of the Night, is next”. If rewatching series 8 has taught me one thing, it’s that everything deserves a second chance, because I really enjoyed this rewatch on the whole. It’s not my favourite series ever all of a sudden, and yes there are a couple of absolute duds, but I’ve found more to love about it, so much more that I’m slightly confused to why I convinced myself it wasn’t particularly good. Maybe because 2014 was a tough year for me, and the memories of that year affect everything which happened in it. Maybe because I’m not at my happiest now. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that I thoroughly enjoyed this series, ad found some more to love about it. That’s all I really wanted to do, and I’m over the moon I achieved that.
So why did I really enjoy series 8? The main reason is that I didn’t let past biases affect my new rewatch. It’s fairly straightforward. However, there were a couple of things which I really enjoyed on this rewatch which I didn’t notice on original transmission.
The first is the series approach to character, particularly the characters of The Doctor and Clara. Series 8 definitely feels like one of those series where you feel like you are sharing the adventure with the characters rather than just watching them have them. Combined with pretty solid writing across the board (Clara’s a tad iffy in Into the Dalek, and I’m not sure Peter Harness gets Twelve, but for the most part, excellent stuff) and stunning performances from Peter and Jenna throughout, then you have this series’ greatest claim to fame. Twelve already proves himself to be one of the most detailed and layered incarnations of the Doctor. He shows many sides to his character, from the arrogance and bluntness he is first introduced as, but also a softer, caring, loving side the role. The good man arc is introduced, developed, and concluded very nicely and Twelve’s bewilderment of who he actually is makes the incarnation extremely engaging. Clara’s also a brilliant character here, proving herself to be the best companion New Who has to offer so far and my personal favourite in the entire franchise. Each episode she became a more like the Doctor, so much so she’s almost like a second incarnation, and her development throughout, particularly in episodes like Flatline, is an absolute treat.
This series works pretty well tonally. I think it’s fair to say the darker tone of the stories works well for the most part, and despite some tonal inconsistencies in some stories, usually by the use of “comedy” being inserted inappropriately so it jars, it works well, for the most part, suiting the darker (on the surface) Doctor.
Story quality is also generally very good, with this series containing three of Who’s all time best at the very least. There are a couple of duds here, and a couple episodes which are masterfully mediocre, but for the most part it’s certainly a decent run of episodes.
Production wise the show is at an all-time high. The show has never looked better, the set designs have been astonishing, the music has been pretty good for the most part, if a tad forgettable, and the direction has also been very good, hiring two of the show’s all-time best directors in Ben Wheatley and Rachel Talalay.
What didn’t work this series? Guest casts I’d say. Quite a lot of the guest characters weren’t anything special this series, being either bland or irritating, or both, and there are only a couple of characters I would like to see any more of. Perkins would be the obvious choice, and I think Rigsy showed potential, though that could be hindsight speaking.
Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed series 8. As I said, I can’t say it’s my new favourite series, but I certainly found a lot more to love about it. The character work is stunning, and there are some real gems in there.
1. Mummy on the Orient Express
4. Dark Water
5. Robot of Sherwood
6. Last Christmas
7. Deep Breath
8. The Caretaker
9. Into the Dalek
10. Time Heist
11. Death in Heaven
12. Kill the Moon
13. In the Forest of the Night