I was lucky enough to get swept away past a blue box and into a grey theatre to see the premiere of Season 9 of “Doctor Who” a little early. And I’m glad I did.
Like many “Doctor Who” fans, I found last season to be a challenge much of the time. With Peter Capaldi taking the helm of the role of The Doctor, it felt like a lot of growing pains and not enough juicy story with appropriate writing for this new man.
Well it took a season to figure out, but after seeing episodes 1 and 2 Thursday evening I can plainly say they have done it. These episodes blow away every single episode from Season 8.
I can’t give you any spoilers here prior to Saturday, September 18 (you don’t want them, trust me). But I can give you a few solid reasons why you will, indeed, love the first two episodes.
One of the most frustrating things about Season 8 of “Doctor Who” was how each and every story lived in its own little vacuum. Sure, Missy rears her head teasily throughout the season leading up to the finale, but otherwise each episode is very self-contained. Sometimes that works, but most of the time last season it left us missing the bigger story that tied us to The Doctor and his mythology.
Without giving too much away, the show makes a return to focusing on The Doctor and his past. And it makes a huge difference in the writing. Seeing The Doctor as a part of the same line as his predecessors instead of something entirely new drew me back into the show. Watching these episodes gave me a familiar feeling in the best way possible.
This happens from the very start. In the first five minutes, writer and executive producer Steven Moffat drops a bomb on everyone that had the whole audience gasping. It sets the stage for a show filled with both nostalgia and a new excitement for the coming season.
Peter Capaldi’s Doctor feels much more comfortable in the role. The costuming is different, the attitude’s a bit different, and the heroism is more inspiring. Granted, I was surrounded by a bunch of “Who” fans, but there was a ton of cheering for Capaldi’s heroics at several points.
From a writing standpoint, I always felt Matt Smith (the former Doctor) dialogue was being written for Capaldi’s Doctor last season and it just didn’t work. Capaldi doesn’t have the same charm or youth, and he’s much less wobbly. Moffat also seems to have rectified that issue in the new season. Doctor #12 is finally carving out its own niche.
Old villains return, old wounds are opened up, and Clara is back to playing the supporting role that was oddly made more protagonist last year. These two episodes are not about Clara, this is The Doctor’s story. He has to face and fight his own demons this time, something we didn’t really see him do in Season 8.
There’s not much more I can say without giving anything away. The two episodes are jam packed with plot twists and cliffhangers. But rest assured, whether you’re a “Whovian” or not, you’re going to have a wild ride.
“Doctor Who” airs Saturday, September 18 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.
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