Doctor Who: Series 7.2 - Final Review
The seventh series of Doctor Who is over! It concluded on Saturday night with heavily promoted climax The Name Of The Doctor, threatening to reveal Clara's true identity, the Doctor's real name and god knows what else. And in the end... yes, at least there were genuine revelations.
But winding back a bit: We last checked in with Who a few weeks ago, with our Series 7.2 halfway check-in, and muttered that the first three episodes were a little disappointing, but thankfully things perked up with fourth effort Hide. Did they continue that uphill trend? Let's see, and beware the spoiler. You can catch up with series 7B on iPlayer for another week.
Journey Through The Latter Episodes Of Series 7BLooking back at the final half of series seven, and indeed the whole second eight-episode run, it's hard to pretend it hasn't been a little patchy. I think the overall quality of the last four was slightly better than the first half - I was mostly entertained during the bulk of them, a couple were really good - but there's been no sudden lurch back to dazzle-form either.
First up in the second lot, Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS wasn't too bad, but meandered away at the end rather. The idea of taking a stroll around the TARDIS was intriguing, but the episode didn't build anything on top of that, and then erased the progress it did make with an end-of-week mindwipe. It was a nice touch to see that moment come back into play during the finale, but still felt a bit "Oh, was that it?" at the time.
The Crimson Horror, on the other hand, I really liked. For a moment, I thought we were getting a revisitation of the "Doctor-Lite" episodes from the Russell T. Davies years, focusing entirely on the Vastra crew, but our big-haired hero did eventually take back control. Nonetheless, it had a spring in its stride and some quick but well drawn emotional resonance - possibly one of my favourite Mark Gatiss Who scripts, actually. Lot of fun.
The primary USP of Nightmare In Silver is being this year's Neil Gaiman Episode, and that drags it, perhaps unwillingly, onto a higher quality scale. But trying to remain objective... I still thought it was just decent, rather than great. Better than Journey but possibly not the episodes either side of it - although did achieve its goal of making the Cybermen seem threatening for once. They've struggled to recover from being bitchslapped by the Daleks in series two.
Finally, finale The Name Of The Doctor was a flawed but watchable beast, containing a lot of cool moments and strong emotional scenes, but perhaps slacked the actual plot too much in the latter half. The Great Intelligence wasn't really built up well enough to play such a huge role, and they spent a tad too long having a prolonged "Hmm, shall we leap into this special effect?" debate - still, the angst whilst doing it almost covered that up. Good ending too. (Well, okay, those huge floating "INTRODUCING JOHN HURT AS THE DOCTOR" letters were a wee bit on the nose, but no-one left behind, etc.)
The Formalised Comparison Of The DoctorSo episode by episode, better than the first half. As a whole series, though, how does "Series 7" sqaure up to previous years? That's everything, remember, starting back at Asylum of the Daleks. Will any more of them be joining our Top Eleven Matt Smith Episodes?
The three best episodes from this run - Hide, The Crimson Horror and The Name Of The Doctor might stand a chance, but as a whole run, despite having some good episodes, there was a certain lack of drive and the okayish episodes were... really okayish. The mid-series episodes in previous runs had the occasional clunker, but seemed to just be a bit more fun and watchable. As a whole series, possibly the most uneven we've had since number two - the first David Tennant year. And yes, I love Tennant too, but the actual episodes in that first run were wildly inconsistent.
Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman firing on all cylinders in this half though - their chemistry probably saved some of the okayish episodes from slipping into actively not great. Coleman's raw charisma also covered well for the lack of hard definition in Clara's character - hopefully we'll be allowed to get under her skin more now that we've had the reveal about her "secret". Oh, and hopefully "Impossible Girl" won't keep getting name-checked every ten seconds, that'd be really annoying.
Anyway, that was series seven of Doctor Who. Next: the anniversary special, wherein John Hurt is presumably the 8.5th Doctor. Should be interesting, I have faith.
Doctor Who is not on anymore. More details of that absence on the BBC official Doctor Who site, including episodes that remain on iPlayer. Those Clara insertions into archive footage were pretty cool.