Now before I tackle the episode Dark Water, I feel I must make my feelings public about this series. I was a huge fan of Matt Smith and did worry whether Peter Capaldi came with too much historical baggage (of previous roles) to convince as The Doctor. I worried needlessly, almost from his first appearance he was The Doctor and now, just as when Tom Baker replaced Jon Pertwee, I accept that they were/are/will be The Doctor.
As for this series, some notes about each episode. This is not a series of reviews or even when I saw the twist firsts, but some short views:
1. Deep Breath - The tricky first episode with a new Doctor. This one was OK, a bit too much silliness and reptilian lesbianism (not a phrase that I think I've ever typed before) but it set Peter Capaldi up as a believable and differently nuanced Doctor, more fitting for his real age.
2. Into The Dalek - Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. A fair idea but with very poor execution. The antibodies from Who Killed Hitler made an unwelcome return and the plot had more holes than all the golf courses in Scotland. I watched it, I don't begrudge the time I spent doing so but could do so much better.
3. Robot Of Sherwood - Another somewhat irritating episode. Lots of nice Robin Hood references and de-mythologising but too much clowning around and just not that enjoyable.
4. Listen - This was an odd one. I enjoyed parts, I had a little squeal when the childhood Doctor was revealed and yes I did spot that he was in 'that barn' before it was made clear BUT what were the things under the bed, on the bed etc. Did I really care?
5. Time Heist - Much better. A tricky time travelling plot and some great supporting acting along with a great new alien to conjure with. some plot holes but none large enough to let the magic escape through. Not happy to see the antibodies from Who Killed Hitler ,make a second appearance in this series though.
6. The Caretaker - I quite like the episodes when The Doctor goes undercover in England, the best of these in recent years being the two-parter Human Nature and The Family OF Blood, although the presence of Jessica Hynes may have affected my judgement a little, I admit. This one was nowhere near as good as that two-parter and indeed maybe not as good as the James Corden stories. The Skovox Blitzer made for an exceptionally poor opponent, for a robot with enough firepower to destroy a plant it seemed a rather poor and weak shot.
7. Kill The Moon - Promised a lot, delivered a lot less.
8. Mummy On The Orient Express - I'm not usually a big fan of the Doctor Who Period Dramas, I detested The Unicorn and The Wasp for example. But this one was a right good romp. The Doctor was selfish and calculating, infuriating and brilliant. The plot worked and I enjoyed this episode a lot.
9. Flatline - Oh yes, a real return to form. Just what a planet Earth Doctor Who story should be like. Things going on just out of your eyeline, an enemy you can't communicate with and humans in danger. I liked this episode a lot and may even watch it again soon...
10. In The Forest Of The Night - Too many irritating children for my liking and too many plot holes, such as why were there so few people roaming around the London forest? How do trees stop fire by producing more oxygen? I watched it and tried to forget it.
11. And that brings us to Dark Water.
Two parters generally work better, there's more time to establish the characters, to play with the concept, to set the scene and ramp up the tension, as well as have some nice comic sidenotes. This episode did all of that. The concept of a real afterlife was nicely done, the reveal of who was (partly) behind it managed to not be obvious to me before the reveal, how embarrassed I was not to have seen that coming - a hidden exo-skeleton, the Cybermen eye symbol everywhere, "Who would harvest dead bodies" followed by the lift doors closing and revealing two Cyberman eye symbols... come on how did I miss that?
The 3W derivation was nicely handled too, will demand for cremations fall now? "Don't cremate me, don't cremate me, don't cremate me...." I'm opting to be buried lying on soft cotton sheets, on a comfortable bed, in a marshmallow room heated to a comfortable 66 degrees Fahrenheit!
Then there were the little comic asides - "tongues", "Doctor Chang!!!", "You have iPads in the afterlife? iPads, we have Steve Jobs", "nothing at the end of the cord", "Sounds like somebody left their body to science", "Can you just hurry up please or I'll hit you with my shoe", "I presume you've got stairs? I'm not a dalek", "... Another ranting Scotsman in the street, I had no idea there was a match on", "This is going to be our last conversation, and I'm the one who's going to have to live with that" - Missy/Missi channelling Miranda Richardson's Queenie there were nicely delivered.
I enjoyed the performance of Chris Addison as Seb, a nicely judged piece of acting with just the right blend of humour and menace.
The main irritation was the predictable reveal of who Danny Pink killed when a soldier; it was always going to be an innocent non-combatant, for who else do soldiers kill according to the BBC? And also a hiding antibody like creation, again, this time it's a Gallifreyan Data Slice?!?
The reveal of Missy was so well signposted that The Doctor should be ashamed of himself, the hand on the heart was so blatant that I fear this Doctor may be a little lacking in spotting the obvious. As I said at the start of this post, I had long ago predicted that Missy would be revealed to be a regeneration of the Master and that this was a test run to see if the public would accept a female Doctor Who after a future regeneration.I'm not sure that I will and that doesn't make me a sexist; Doctor Who is a strong male character and I remain to be convinced that Missy is a patch on any of the former iterations of The Master. I suppose I'll know more after this Saturday's Death In Heaven.