jason stives looks at the seventh series of Doctor Who …
So collecting my thoughts on an overall season of Doctor Who is just as frustrating as reviewing a single episode each week. On one end I have been a loyal fan for years who is easily satisfied but after reviewing Series 6 and receiving some not so flattering remarks about my own fandom I had to remember to separate my fan appreciation from my critical viewpoints but both still become intertwined in the grand scheme of things. That’s why Series 7 was one of the toughest to review because it satisfied a lot of geek tendencies leading into the show’s 50 anniversary while still feeling like the most inconsistent series the show has had since the Tennant years.
Most of the trouble that I think befalls Series 7 has come in the wake of splitting this season into two parts. While Series 6 it made sense because there was a reasonable split between two story arcs this season it felt unwarranted with Amy and Rory’s farewell tour being prolonged a few episodes too long. I am quick to admit that I fell out of love with the Ponds at the end of their second season and their extended stay should have been much shorter than it was. In light of the 6 month break between the two parts getting back into the swing with Clara’s storyline felt a bit stunted with no time to set in.
This reflects in the bulk of the scripts that didn’t have the benefit of getting a complete one over by Steven Moffat. In comparison the scripts solely penned by Moffat tended to be the strongest with both the season opener and finale being stunning highlights. A lot of this comes from underdevelopment of character and pacing. The mystery of Clara Oswald is unique but her story and the mystery are truncated at best when they are mentioned. Only “The Name of the Doctor” had the benefit of fully explaining the situation but it should have been given more time and care than it was.
The one criticism I have heard the most by those who watch the show and it’s something I tend to agree with is that the characters in the show other than the Doctor have felt underwritten because we never get to really embrace them. Compared to the Russell T Davies era the majority of the supporting players here tend to reactions to what is going on with the Doctor instead of going about a natural course that shows their plight in the TARDIS. I’m not suggesting that the show stop developing the Doctor but he should be more like how the Seventh Doctor was to his companion, a background player with greater importance than is suggested who can manipulate others into what he knows they can be.
The season had its fair share of shining moments and despite some people’s claims that the show and the BBC have not been honoring the show’s 50th anniversary I would say there was more than enough here to entice an older audience. Still the episodes remained inconsistent in tone and while that’s ambitious and more than welcomed it showed off the flaws of the season by jumping from style to style. Stories like “Asylum of the Daleks,” “Hide,” and “Cold War” were superb modern takes on traditional motifs from the show’s past whereas “Bells of Saint John” and “Power of Three” produced clever ideas that reflect our society and displayed a fun and adventurous tone. Not all of it works and some stories ranged from forgettable (“Rings of Akhaten”) to just short of good (“The Crimson Horror”) and finally to just plain awful (“Dinosaurs on A Spaceship,” I’m sorry). Each series always has a few clunkers but it’s normally amid a level of consistency which this season seemed to lack up until the very end.
Series 7 was far and away the weakest of the three seasons that Steven Moffat has helmed but not for a lack of trying although it does feel that way at times. Leading into the anniversary special in November we have some questions that we are dying to have answered but it’s the lead up to that that should’ve been more concise and fleshed out. While it had its share of highlights, especially the finale, I will be very selective on what I deem worthy of a rewatch down the line.
All Photos Credit: BBC America