Doctor Who || Series Nine Overview
After nine series, a run of specials, nine Christmas specials and so much more Doctor Who is still going strong. If you believe the internet, (sometimes not always a recommended thing) then the ninth series of Doctor Who was a staggering return to form. To be sure, that’s no lie.
After the ending of series eight, which introduced the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, it’s fair to say that many were unsure of what to think but were generally in the positive. After the finale of this ninth series it’s very fair to say that many, including us, were saying very positive things about the most developed and consistent run for a while.
With the exception of one episode, this was the season of multi-parters (a return to the past, in a way) and this format worked perfectly. With more room for development of character and plot the ‘To Be Continued’ caption at the end of half the episodes was a welcome occurrence indeed.
Indeed, the sole standalone episode divided viewers like happens rarely. Yes, we talk of Sleep No More. The Mark Gatiss penned, much anticipated ‘found footage’ episode turned out to be a curiosity rather than an essential. It’s certainly not an ‘In The Forest of the Night’ style disaster but it’s far from a classic outing. In any other season it might have just about passed muster but this supercharged ninth season was not the place for an experiment, no matter how effective it was on occasion.
But, perhaps that last statement was misleading. There was one rather big experiment in the second half of the series in the form of the excellent Peter Capaldi 0ne-hander ‘Heaven Sent’. An experiment of this scale shouldn’t work in a show that is, at its roots, a half-century old, but Heaven Sent was nothing short of mesmerizing. In some ways, perhaps the most brutal episode of the run as we see the Doctor constantly kill himself over many billions of years until he finally gets through to the other place he calls home. That is, Gallifrey.
What a finale it proved to be as well. Wrapping up the Clara Oswald story line with a clever reverse of Tenth Doctor companion Donna’s final episode, it was a riveting watch. But as Clara and Ashildr/Me travel off into space with a new TARDIS and a point in time that has to be met many felt cheated by the episode. Wrongly, we’d say, as from the Doctor’s point of view the last two and a half series effectively never happened. Additionally, it was admittedly time for a change in the companion stakes so this makes the perfect clean break.
But floating above the whole season was something that we tried our very best to avoid so as to experience the series as it should be. That is, spoilers, sweetie! From the very beginning there was an abundance of advance knowledge slipped out there that many viewers really didn’t want to know. Thus, instead Face The Raven’s closing minutes being the jump to the senses they were meant to be, we knew what was going to happen. Indeed, our co-reviewer was very pointed on that topic in her review of said episode. But in the end, forgive and forget is the key. Next series though, less spoilers would be perfect.
Finishing the run of episodes for 2015 was the light, if entertaining and plot advancing, The Husbands of River Song. As you might’ve guessed, it featured the return of the very quotable archaeologist herself and fulfilled many diehard fans wish to see her and the Twelth Doctor on screen together. When all is said and done it was a perfect Christmas Special, silly and not too demanding, but it did reset the tone of the series following the dark triple that preceded.
Overall, series 9 was a great return to form for Doctor Who. We really liked the wilder look and feel that the twelfth Doctor has been allowed - the unkempt mane of hair, the rock-god guitar and the punkier garb. Based on what we've seen this series, we'd go as far as to say that Peter Capaldi is now completely at home in the role he always dreamed of playing.
Best Episode: Hard to judge based on this excellent run, but Heaven Sent and The opening, Missy powered two-parter The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar are contenders.
Worst Episode: You might have guessed this already, but it’s almost certainly Sleep No More. It’s certainly not awful but lose out in such a well designed series. Read the review and find out why!
Words: Sebastian Gahan & Andrea McGuire.