Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Doctor Who: Season 8: Top 12 Episodes: Part 2

Here is my second part to the Top 12 Episodes of Doctor Who season eight.

"Robot of Sherwood" is one of those lighthearted and goofy Doctor Who episodes that have little to no relevance in the overall narrative of the season, but nonetheless served to entertain with the fun premise and great humor. Nothing about the episode was special, with the plot having some very daft moments, and other elements seeming a bit too wacky. Despite those problems, "Robot of Sherwood” was entertaining, and that was all that it needed to be. 

Wow, looking at my ratings, there is a rather large discrepancy between number six and seven, but "Mummy on the Orient Express" is the episode that set the series on the part to an incredibly strong ending. After the disaster that was "Kill the Moon," "Mummy on the Orient Express" had to fix Clara and the Doctor's broken relationship, while actually having a very strong central plot, unlike "The Caretaker." The concept of the Mummy killing people, which culminated with the Mummy being revealed to be a soldier, gave the Doctor, and the audience, an intriguing and fun mystery to solve. By the end of the episode, Clara finally was able to understand the Doctor’s methods and why he lies to the people that he is trying to save. Overall, "Mummy on the Orient Express" is a very fun, yet smart, episode of Doctor Who that is reminiscent of previous seasons.  

The first part of the two part season finale, "Dark Water," proved that all of the Missy madness throughout the season was not for naught. In fact, it took the concept of the series' "afterlife," and twisted it into a clever plot with the Master. While the actual finale was not quite as good as it could have been, "Dark Water" was an excellent and eerie setup.

For the first time since season five, Doctor Who had a truly top notch season finale. Even though some elements of "Death in Heaven" could have been executed with more finesse and stronger writing, the episode did not disappoint where it mattered most; the characters. Seeing Clara and the Doctor lie to each other, thinking that they are making the other one happy, proved to be one of the most powerful moments of the entire season. Thematically, everything came together well for one surprisingly powerful finale, even if there were a few moments of iffy writing. 

"Time Heist" is not on the level of iconic Doctor Who episode, but it certainly managed to be an entirely fun and tightly written heist story that incorporated a strong mystery and all of the fun that a heist story entails. Looking back at the episode, it did not serve a purpose in the grand scheme of the plot, but it did deliver the type of standalone story that every Doctor Who season needs.

2: Listen

"Listen" was Capaldi's first truly great episode. Steven Moffat went back to his roots with an episode that brought back some true scare factor with the mysterious monsters living under the bed, or is it all just in your head? Well, that is for the viewer to decide. The general ambiguity of "Listen" proved to be one of its strongest elements with many aspects being left for the viewer to deduce themselves. While some might scoff at Clara comforting the Doctor as a child, it only reinforced how important she is to the Doctor as a friend. Overall, "Listen" is a beautifully poignant and delightfully atmospheric masterstroke that brings out the best of Moffat's writing skill, and it is what we needed after slow start to the season.

Throughout Doctor Who's run, the episodes that are the most unforgettable for me are the ones that build up the suspense in a masterfully creepy ways with episodes like "Blink," "The Empty Child," and even "Girl in the Fireplace" to a lesser degree, and that is exactly what "Flatline" delivered. While not close to the same level of thrills and genius of those previously referenced episodes, "Flatline" is my favorite episode of the season for a multitude of reasons. Even though a few minor aspects, like possibly omitting the opening scene, could have been done to make "Flatline" a truly classic episode of Doctor Who, it still gave us the most original monster since the Weeping Angels with the 2D creatures. Despite the eerie atmosphere, "Flatline" gave us some great laughs with the tiny TARDIS, and the gags from its small size. Plus, Jenna Coleman truly shined as the Clara with the character finally understanding and realized why the Doctor must make the tough calls that he does to save the most lives in the end, as she essentially played the role of the Doctor in the episode. It was a close call between "Listen" and "Flatline" for the number one spot, but thanks to the splendid characterization of Clara and the wonderfully imaginative antagonists, "Flatline" is my favorite episode of Doctor Who's eighth season.

What are your favorite episodes of season eight? Do you agree or disagree with my rankings? Please comment below and let me know.

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  1. Excellent list, James! For me this season would probably go like this, I guess....
    Deep Breath: 4/5
    Into the Dalek: 4/5
    Robot of Sherwood: 5/5
    Listen: 4/5
    Time Heist: 4/5
    The Caretaker: ....3.5/5 (rounded up: 4/5)
    Kill the Moon: 4/5
    Mummy on the Orient Express: 5/5
    Flatline: 5/5
    In the Forest of the Night: 3/5
    Dark Water: 4/5
    Death in Heaven: 5/5
    Overall: Out of 11? 12!
    Like I said, I really enjoyed this season, and the only episode I really didn't like was ITFOTN. So, yeah. I mean, there were some episodes I didn't enjoy as much as others, but still. Once I rewatch the series, I think my scores will probably change a little. But my favorites were Robot, Mummy and Flatline.

  2. Great list! :D I agree, Listen, Flatline, and the Finale of this season were awesome! :D I really loved Clara's character growth and she's now one of my favorite companions. I liked the Robin Hood episode more, but that's probably because I have liked Robin Hood for years(used to play it as a kid).
    My ranking from favorite to least favorite would be
    Death in Heaven
    Robot of Sherwood
    Time Heist
    Mummy on the Orient Express
    Dark Water
    In the Forest of the Night
    Into the Dalek
    Deep Breath
    The Caretaker or To Kill the Moon

  3. Robot of Sherwood was very fun; I loved the scene when The Doctor and Robin met! It was a really fun, unusual episode.

    I would probably rank Mummy higher on my own list as I really really enjoyed the mystery part of it. The downside was Clara's presence (I sadly didn't like her after Kill the Moon) but overall I would say this was on of my favorites of the season.

    The second half of Dark Water was really good--while I didn't really like the valcano scene, everything else was better than I expected. I really liked how they explained the Promised Land thread.

    Death in Heaven... meh, it was okay, I guess.

    I actually forgot all about Time Heist but that was actually a pretty decent episode! Overall I really liked that one too!

    Listen is my favorite episode of this season because it scared the s**t out of me for like two and half weeks afterwards. I still get the skin crawls sometime when I turn my light out a night (glad I have a TV that lights up my room when I do that though, lol.) While the second half was weaker, the first half totally blew me out of the water; I wish Moffat wrote more stories like those. I think that where he best shines in Doctor Who!

    Flatline was alright; I liked the fact that the 2D people moved like zombies when they became 3D, that was really cool. :)

    Great list!!


  4. Time Heist wins favorite episode for me. :D I think your rankings are very reasonable though, even though mine are pretty different. And I rated the episodes lower overall. I am glad it ended on a high note though! Looking forward to the Christmas special! Nice post!


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