A Revitalized Doctor Who
Matt Smith had more than won me over by the time it was time for him to exit the TARDIS, but there’s no question that his final season was not Doctor Who‘s finest hour. That wasn’t Smith’s fault, but owed instead to lackluster and forgettable episodes such as “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” and “The Power of Three,” with the show seeming to drag its feet when it came to bidding the Ponds farewell. Things rallied in the run up to The Day of the Doctor, but Moffat’s unsteady hand left many wondering whether a new Doctor would just recycle the same old problems. Instead, we got the brilliant Peter Capaldi as a very different Doctor, one that seemed sterner and often so tactless as to seem cruel (“Top layer if you’d like to say a few words”), but one still ultimately living up to the promise of his name.
With a different Doctor, Moffat and his writers wisely couched Capaldi’s first year in the same questions the viewers would be asking, with The Doctor facing an unexpected new lease on life by wondering what sort of man he really is, and eventually finding exactly the right answer. Clara also fared better this year, defining herself beyond just The Doctor’s “Impossible Girl” and facing the reality that traveling with the Time Lord almost always has a price. Mixing light-hearted fun and heart-breaking tragedy, the season produced more gems than duds, not to mention one of the best episodes of the show’s modern run (“Listen”). There’s no telling how long we’ll get to keep adventuring with Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, but we look forward to every minute, and to being surprised by where the show might go next. – David