Doctor Who
Doctor Who Review: Is Every Episode Going to Be a Remake?

Elizabeth Harper | 31 Aug 2014 06:15
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Though Into the Dalek is another highly derivative episode, it's still a solid entry into the mythos of the Daleks and the Doctor.

Throughout the new Who era, second episodes have almost inevitably been disappointments after a strong initial showing. The second episode of the 8th season is only different because the first episode wasn't that strong -- and this one's about the same, quality wise.

Don't get me wrong: I think Peter Capaldi makes a great Doctor. The question of whether the Doctor's a good guy that Capaldi tackles head-on is a compelling one -- and one the show hasn't done much to address in the past. So one one hand, this feels like something interesting and new... but on the other, both of the episodes we've seen so far have been more or less remakes of earlier episodes. Deep Breath borrowed liberally from season 2's The Girl in the Fireplace while this week's Into the Dalek borrows from season 1's Dalek, and if you wind up comparing the new episodes to the old, the new ones don't come out on top -- despite the fact that Capaldi and co-star Jenna Coleman (as companion Clara Oswald) are delivering top-notch performances.

However, the acting alone is good reason to turn in: Capaldi is a distinctly different Doctor after the eras of Smith and Tennant, while Coleman's Clara feels like a fully realized character for the first time she was introduced. These past two episodes have given us more characterization of Clara than all of last season, and it's great to see her finally have a unique identity. This episode particularly hones in on Clara being a teacher (not just of children, but of the Doctor, too), and while it felt arbitrary when she was shown, out of the blue, in a classroom last season, it finally feels like it fits.

In the last episode we saw:

  • The Doctor being awfully shaky on his own identity after his regeneration, including rejecting a lot of last season's quasi-romantic suggestions between the Doctor and Clara.
  • The Doctor fighting off a new batch of clockwork androids, which we last saw in season 2's The Girl in the Fireplace.
  • A mystery woman (introduced as Missy) who called the Doctor her boyfriend. She took in the episode's villain after his death, telling him that he had reached heaven.

This week, the Doctor's run off to fetch coffee for Clara (as he promised at the end of the last episode), but has gotten distracted by his long-time enemies, the Daleks. Old-hat Who fans know things aren't likely to go well from here.

If you want to tune in yourself, you can can new episodes of Doctor Who on Saturday nights on BBC America -- though cord-cutters will have to pick up the current season on iTunes or Amazon Instant. If you want to catch up on earlier seasons, they can be found on both Netflix and Hulu.

Now, for those of you who have watched (or don't mind spoilers), read on for more about the second episode of season 8, Into the Dalek.

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