The Name of the Doctor
Episode / April 5, 2016

Aired 18 May 2013 The name of the Doctor may not be one of the burning questions most fans have avidly asked over the years, but having an episode titled ‘The Name of the Doctor’ certainly sets the scene for a very big and important outing, indeed. Unsurprisingly, writer Steven Moffat plays with expectations and , rather than offering a straight answer, instead completely changes the entire fabric and history of the programme while bringing into question not only the Doctor’s name but his entire identity. ‘The Name of the Doctor’ features one of the most interesting settings in Doctor Who history, the planet Trenzalore being the final resting place of both the Doctor and his TARDIS. As the TARDIS continues to die, its dimensional control continues to falter and so the dilapidated TARDIS here is impressively large on the outside. But on the inside lies the crux of the episode since a tear in space and time that is connects the Doctor’s adventures and lives has formed. Before Trenzalore even appears on screen, though, ‘The Name of the Doctor’ gives fans a taste of what they were likely hoping for all along in this fiftieth anniversary series. The actual…

The Crimson Horror
Episode / April 4, 2016

Aired 4 May 2013 ‘The Crimson Horror’ is another bit of a surprise episode because it brings back the Doctor-lite aspect that hasn’t really been around since the Tennant years. There’s a decent mystery in play regarding Sweetville, but both the Doctor and Clara are more a part of that mystery rather than ones investigating and seeking a resolution until the end. It’s an interesting approach, especially considering that this is the programme’s fiftieth anniversary year, but maybe not the best one to take in this instance even if it suited the story. The setup is that the Doctor’s image appears in a victim’s eyes just before death, prompting the return of Jenny, Strax, and Madame Vastra as a trio of investigators. For the first time, though, it’s Catrin Stewart’s Jenny who really takes the lead in events, a welcome shift in the dynamic even as the other two remain useful in their own right and Strax in particular continues to deliver more comedic moments. People around the area are being discovered covered in red, dubbed the crimson horror by unaffected locals. While the locals focus on superstition and fear, though, the detectives soon shift their focus to Winifred Gillyflower,…

The Snowmen
Episode / March 31, 2016

Aired 25 December 2012 Doctor Who returns to screens with its annual holiday special, but Steven Moffat also uses it as an opportunity to set plot threads in motion for the show’s upcoming fiftieth anniversary series, in the process focusing less on the Yuletide setting than any previous special. With a long-forgotten foe returning, a new title sequence hearkening back to the face-including sequences of the Second through Seventh Doctor eras, and an updated TARDIS interior that also evokes some memories of past iterations, there are several hints already in place that 2013 is going to be a tremendously nostalgic time for the programme. Having previously appeared in the Patrick Troughton episodes ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and ‘The Web of Fear,’ the Great Intelligence makes a welcome return as he shows off his formidable psychic power while trying to find a physical form. Richard E Grant adds a sinister air of gravitas to the role during his limited appearances, and it seems inevitable that greater things are in store for the Great Intelligence- though perhaps not with Grant as its host- going forward. Yet as intriguing as the villain is, it’s ultimately Jenna-Louise Coleman who is again going to be the…

Deep Breath
Episode / February 11, 2016

Aired 23 August 2014 In the allotted amount of time that Peter Capaldi graces the screen in ‘Deep Breath,’ it’s apparent that he is a very different Doctor than his immediate predecessors, still just as willing to take charge and confront danger (now aided by attack eyebrows) but in a seemingly more deliberate and terse manner. As it is, though, ‘Deep Breath’ is a story about Clara rediscovering the Doctor just as much as the Doctor rediscovering himself, and both Capaldi and Jenna Coleman wonderfully deliver a sense of vulnerability and apprehension at the start. But as the Doctor is off confronting the mystery at hand, ‘Deep Breath’ becomes much more of a contemplative character piece for Clara as she tries to reconcile the transformation with the help of Madame Vastra. It is in these conversations that the heart of the episode resides, adding previously unexplored and resonating depth to the characters of Vastra and Jenny. Despite the astuteness and reason present throughout these talks, it takes a surprise cameo from Matt Smith’s pre-regeneration Eleventh Doctor to set her mind at ease in a lovingly delivered scene. Capaldi, in particular superbly sells the sense of heartache and loneliness he feels…