I have to put this somewhere, and this is pretty much it.
So, the new Doctor Who episode.
I enjoyed it, I enjoyed seeing the new doctor (he was by far and away my favorite part,) but there are some things about the episode that annoyed me.
1. More Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Strax, I think he’s hilarious, but I have a hard time seeing Vastra and Jenny as characters. They seem more like a collection of quirks. The first time we saw them at Demon’s Run I found them incredibly interesting, but with each successive appearance they lose a little more of their charm for me. They are completely static, everything interesting about them apparently happened before we got to meet them and their characters have undergone no growth whatsoever. I’ve learned nothing new about them, save that despite Vastra’s disdain for being judged, she is very judgmental herself. It also seems that every other line of dialogue for her is to remind us that she is a “lizard-woman from the dawn of time.”
Vastra. We know. You’re green and scaly. You’ve been in multiple episodes. We know when you’re from and that you find humans to be on the whole a worthless species. We get it.
Jenny’s every other line seems to be to remind everyone (in case they’ve missed it) that she and Vastra are in a relationship. Or perhaps she’s just reminding Vastra, as “the wife” does seem rather forgetful of human concepts such as marriage. Or gender. Or not eating criminals for dinner. (The first time it was funny, now I find myself wondering how she’s on the Doctor’s side since he’s very “don’t kill anyone!” and she’s very “Oh, a bad guy. Yum.”)
Naturally all of Strax’s lines revolve around him being a Sontarran, but since we’ve met other Sontarrans, and they all seemed to be like this, I’m giving him a pass on that one. (Also, the moment when he clocked Clara in the head with the Times? Hilarious.) Though if they continue to bring this trio up the writers may want to consider slowly granting him the ability to understand certain human things, unless they wish us to believe he is simply incapable of learning them.
The more we see these characters, the less I like them, largely I think, because they actually take screen time away from the Doctor. They’re portrayed as the Doctor’s friends, but rarely actually interact with him, most often we simply see them puttering about domestically while the Doctor is off doing heaven-knows-what that is probably vastly more interesting. The main draw of this show is the Doctor himself, so getting to see so little of him in favor of more “Yes I’m a lizard woman from the past and this is my wife in Victorian England, and by the way did I mention I’m actually Sherlock Holmes” was really irksome.
Writers. If you love these characters so much, give them their own show. (Maybe then they’ll get some actual character development.)
2. Clara’s reaction to the Doctor’s regeneration
I think I understand what the writers were trying to do here—Clara fills our role as fans, our hesitation about the new Doctor and worry that he’s not the same person we’ve come to love.
The problem is, we’ve already seen this. Rose went through a nice long angst about Eccelston being switched out for Tennant, and it was believable, if not particularly enjoyable. One reason in particular that this worked for Rose and not for Clara is that Rose had no warning. She didn’t know the Doctor could regenerate and retain his memories, he never bothered to explain any of this to her.
Clara on the other hand not only knows, she’s seen all of the Doctor’s previous regenerations! Even if she doesn’t necessarily remember her other lives going off to save the Doctor all through history, she at least remembers meeting Tennant and Hurt as part of the 50th, and seeing all of the Doctors in all of the TARDIS’s gathered to save Gallifrey.
Her angst was really overdone, I was sympathetic up until the point she asked how they could change him back. It doesn’t work like that, it’s never worked like that, and she lost a lot of the credibility she had managed to gain as a companion by asking that.
The concern and worry and sense of being lost that came later in the episode, when the Doctor kept seeming to abandon her made much more sense, and was handled in a style that seemed to be more Clara. She did have several moments I really liked in this episode, but I kept being reminded of that earlier line and it left a sour taste in my mouth. (Also, while her rant to Vastra about not being interested in pretty boys was really cool, I wanted to call BS. She totally thought the Doctor was her boyfriend. She kinda got the opposite deal from Rose, going from an older man to a younger one.)
3. Not enough of the Doctor
Which is what my other points have boiled down to. I’ve been looking forward to seeing Capaldi’s take on the Doctor, and I feel like I only got to see a few minutes of it since they were really holding on to Matt Smith’s Doctor the whole episode. I love Smith’s Doctor (I loved the scene at the end where he phoned Clara), but seeing this new Doctor not seeming to know how to let go of the previous one and find out who he is was really sad and kind of frustrating. The parts where he did come through (I’m Scottish? That means I can really complain about things!) were awesome, breaths a fresh air that made the whole episode worth it. (Also, the scene where he was translating the T-Rex in his sleep. Beautiful.)
Despite these things I enjoyed the episode and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.