TV Trailer Thoughts | Doctor Who Series 8 Trailer

doctor who series 8 trailer into the dalek clara oswald twelfth doctor peter capaldi jenna coleman be my pal tell me am I a good man

I am properly excited for this, in a way I haven’t been for ages. Even with the 50th Anniversary, and Time of the Doctor, I was feeling a bit trepidant, a little anxious. With this one though, I am totally, unreservedly excited. It’s going to be amazing.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Peter Capaldi in the role. That seems quite obvious, everyone is. But from this trailer, it looks as though he’s going to be quite similar to what I was hoping for his Doctor. More mature, a little bit on the morally ambiguous side. Someone quite reserved, in contrast to Matt Smith’s Doctor. I’m leaning towards the word “unflappable” actually. Yeah, unflappable.

The “Am I a good man?” stuff seems really, really interesting to me. I like the more reflective stuff, where you have to actually weigh up the good of the Doctors actions. (I swing between loving the idea of the Doctor as simply trying to do his best, and loving the idea of him trying to do his best, but making it worse).

I’m hoping that that’ll be quite important in the series as an overarching theme, and maybe, maybe that might lead into a Valeyard story. But I do get the feeling that I’m pushing it a little bit with that.

The rest of the trailer looks pretty good as well. Daleks, back again. I understand they’re in Phil Ford’s episode, so I’m confident that’ll be a good one. There’s a dinosaur, which really just speaks for itself. And! Some cool new aliens that we don’t know about, which is all untold possibilities and new and wow.

So… roll on August 23rd. I really, really can’t wait.

On Agents of SHIELD, Coulson’s Big Reveal, and Story Arcs

agents of shield agent coulson marvel clark gregg inhumans kree story arcs review analysis rewrite

So, Agents of SHIELD. 

I watched the show each week, more or less. It was… variable for the first few months, but after a while it did pick up in quality. Certainly, by the end, it had gotten quite good. Not perfect, admittedly, but quite good.

But! I think that it could have been better. Obviously. I am arrogant like this, and believe everything could be done better if it was done my way. (It could be)

Here, specifically, I’m thinking about something which occurred in the closing scenes of the finale episode, so… spoilers, I suppose, possibly. I left this a while to make sure that wouldn’t be an issue, but it’s always possible.

Right then, final scenes. They tried to set up some twists and turns for the next series, with little cliffhanger moments. It got a little bit too convoluted for my liking, to be honest – I think they would have been better off ending on the ‘hero shot’ of the team together in the plane, but whatever, suspense is fine.

One of the scenes stood out a little bit, and it got me thinking. Essentially, it implies that Coulson has gone crazy, and it’s meant to be a big moment. I have a screenshot, look.

agents of shield season 1 beginning of the end cliffhanger alien writing kree inhumans agent phil coulson clark gregg

Basically, these patterns that he’s drawing indicates he’s not of sound mind. We know this because earlier in the episode someone else was drawing them, and they were very clearly not of sound mind.

But what I’m wondering is if there was a better way to present this and to seed it into the series.

You know how some people doodle idly? Just scribbling, that sort of thing? Well, I’m thinking maybe Coulson could have been doing that throughout the series.

In a scene where he’s in a meeting maybe, he’s just drawing those patterns. Just talking to people, doodling, scribbling. It’d be presented as a sort of character tic, and it wouldn’t even look very weird; the other characters wouldn’t think a great deal of it, and nor would the audience. It wouldn’t even have to have that much attention drawn to it; he wouldn’t have to do it every episode, maybe just every so often.

That would probably give this reveal a bigger impact then, because it’s got more significance. It has the weight of Coulson’s actions over the series carried upon it.

(Although having said that I’d have changed the actual reveal. Rather than showing Coulson drawing on the wall, I’d have May or Fitzsimmons doing inventory, looking at the identical drawings that Garrett did, and then putting two and two together – realising Coulson had been crazy since the start. Your cliffhanger would then be their realisation. The fact the audience would share this realisation would serve to strengthen it, methinks)

What this then lead me to thinking about was story arcs as a whole though, and particularly in this show.

Story arcs can be quite difficult to pull off properly, I think. The sort of ‘build up to a reveal’ kind anyway, with foreshadowing and linking to things. You can kinda see that here, in SHIELD. It doesn’t always work; they head in certain directions, and twist in ways that don’t always seem thought out. Little details get left behind along the way, and things aren’t always clear what the idea was.

Still they made a pretty good stab at it. It’s hard to tell exactly how planned out it was, because it did stumble a bit. Planning definitely helps with these things, especially in a show where there’s lots of different writers. You can sort of see in Doctor Who, where they only planned out the ‘architecture’ of the arc, where it kinda falls down a bit in places. (A shame really, because if the arc of Matt Smith’s last few years had been tightened up a bit, it’d probably be remembered as one of the best parts of 50 years of television)

It’s probably safer to lean more towards the subtle mentions kind of thing, like Bad Wolf in Doctor Who’s first year. That paid off, and it worked, and it was never at the expense of anything else.

I think if (when!) I work in television, on a long-running TV show, I’d want to at least try the more complex plotted arc, where everything is intricate and well thought out. It’d take a lot of planning though. And I wonder if, depending on how it’s presented, it would actually work for an audience. Maybe you’d lose interest. Or, hopefully, you’d better sustain interest over a long time.

This got a bit rambly, didn’t it? Whatever.

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Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: The Doctor Himself

doctor who ninth doctor christopher eccleston russell t davies rose tyler billie piper joe ahearne series 1

This is what I wrote, way back when I first started on these reviews, months and months ago. Quite a long time ago really, thinking about it.

The Ninth Doctor is, for me, a bit of an oddity. He was the first Doctor I ever saw, true, but I only caught the very end of his tenure – Bad Wolf was my first episode, and then a week later the Doctor regenerated. So, I’ve not exactly got a big emotional connection to him.

As well as that, I don’t tend to watch his episodes very often, so I’m not all that familiar with them – I know the basic plot and sequence of events, but there’s lots of little things that surprised me when watching Rose for this review. 

That, coupled with his relatively short run, means I’m just not quite sure about him – sure, he’s a good Doctor, but how good? If I were to one day rank the Doctors, where would he stand on that list?

Here I am now, 13 episodes and several months later. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the Ninth Doctor now, as it goes. He’s not an oddity anymore; he’s a really fantastic Doctor.

One of the things I love is his story arc.

When we first meet the Ninth Doctor, he’s wounded. He’s carrying a lot of survivor’s guilt, and he’s not wholly comfortable in himself. He’s trying to be the Doctor again though, he’s trying to go back to how he used to be. That’s why he’s in the shop, trying to stop the Autons. That’s probably also why he stopped the Daniels family from getting on the Titanic – trying to save their lives.

Interestingly, this actually fits really well with John Hurt’s Doctor, now that I think about it. John Hurt gave up the title of the Doctor, he lost that name. He stopped being the Doctor. And now here we have Christopher Eccleston showing us the Doctor trying to settle back into himself, before we even knew that was happening. There’s all sorts of things like that actually, if you look back on the series, especially in RoseThere’s the Doctor’s initial reluctance to commit to anything other than being “nobody”, and a sort of wry smile where Rose first calls him “Doctor”. It’s a strange sort of backwards prescience, but it’s nice, and kind of fitting in a show about time travel.

In a few of these reviews, I said Christopher Eccleston seemed a bit at odds when he was trying to appear happy. Awkward smiles, not quite laughing at the jokes. I put it down to Christopher Eccleston not quite getting it right. That’s obviously a mistake on my part – I was missing the point. It was deliberate. It was the Doctor who was awkward and not quite happy. The Doctor, out of his element when he wasn’t in the midst of the action, because it’s been so long since he wasn’t always in the midst of the action.

Over time though, you can see this change and develop. You see the Doctor becoming more heroic again, and a little less callous. Towards the start of the series with his rather grim dispatching of Cassandra, stony-faced and determined; by the end of the series, he’s clearly troubled about the thought of doing similar to Margaret Slitheen.

It all culminates in one of my favourite moments of Series One, if not New Who as a whole.

In The Parting of the Waysthe Doctor is presented with a dilemma that mirrors the final moments of the Time War. He has the opportunity to destroy the Daleks, but it’s at the expense of the Earth and everyone on it – at this point, probably the closest thing he has to a home and a family.

When it was the Time War, he made that choice. He wiped out both Time Lords and Daleks, and he’s been living with that ever since. And here… he doesn’t. It’s a fantastic moment, despite how bleak it is. It’s the moment where he becomes the Doctor again. Finally, after all that’s happened… the Doctor is the Doctor.

(Of course, when you take John Hurt’s incarnation into account, on some levels it’s more tragic. He was always the Doctor, because he never did destroy Gallifrey. He just didn’t know it. It’s only now that he knows he’s the Doctor – on some levels, it makes the moment more poignant)

His regeneration too is part of this, part of this moment. The Doctor sacrifices himself to save his companion, to save the woman who helped him to become the Doctor again. It’s very fitting.

The Ninth Doctor is, I think, one of the few Doctors who has quite a concrete and obvious character arc like this. It really helps, I think, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve come to like him so much. It’s a detailed, compelling story which is presented in this series, and it’s definitely worth watching.

So… what do I think of this Doctor? Well, having already used the “fantastic” joke, I probably have to say something articulate and intelligent, don’t I?

The Ninth Doctor is… well, he’s brilliant. He’s a fantastic creation, and Christopher Eccleston and Russell T Davies both deserve plaudits for bringing him to life. He was absolutely the right Doctor for the 21st century, for a group of people who didn’t quite know or wouldn’t quite accept the Doctors of old. He opened the door and set the stage for David Tennant and Matt Smith, but he should be remembered for much more than that.

The Ninth Doctor was fantastic.

(Some jokes are too good not to use twice)

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

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