News Categories
Archives

8 Potential Pitfalls for Series 8

Mark McCullough examines some things Series 8 needs to avoid.

As Series Eight draws ever closer, the anticipation within the fandom has reached new heights. With good reason too, as the information we have received so far gives the impression that this series will be the best so far. Being too optimistic about what’s to come is dangerous however as it sets you up to be disappointed. Given that history has a habit of repeating itself, I am going to highlight a few areas which will be key to Series Eight’s success, or areas where it may disappoint.

Is Peter Capaldi the Doctor?

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(32)

What a silly question, of course he is. Despite being cast in the role, it remains to be seen whether his take on the character will be able to reach out and grab the bigger audience. Will he have that moment where you think to yourself “Yes, this man is the Doctor!” For Smith this moment was widely regarded as the rooftop scene in The Eleventh Hour. What is important is that Capaldi’s identifying scene happens early, because nothing would ruin a series more than being unconvinced by the Doctor. Given Capaldi’s exceptional acting ability, I would stake my house that he will be able to pull it off with ease. That said, being a great actor doesn’t necessarily equate to being ‘the Doctor’.

A darker tone and an alien(ating )Doctor.

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(11)Much has been promised about the direction in which the show is heading. Buzzwords such as ‘dark’, ‘alien’, and ‘adult’ have filled comment threads. As I have stressed before this presents a potential risk in that it could ruin the appeal of the show to children. Given that the show is a family-orientated one, this would appear to be a big no no. However I can see justification for doing so given that it seems to be the desirable tone for TV entertainment in this day and age. Striking a balance by including the child-friendly moments will determine how well the series will be received. Couple this with the fact that the Doctor has been promised to be more alien and another problem arises. The Doctor is the hero of the show, and from what he have heard, it sounds as if he will be hard to like. This gamble means that the Doctor-Companion relationship will become more important than ever as it means we need Clara to bring his good side out.

Speaking of Miss. Oswald

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(4)Where to start on Clara’s character… Had you asked me my thoughts on her immediately after the conclusion of Series Seven, I would have answered that I thought she was rather bland and disjointed. Then came The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor which shed a whole new light upon the character who had now been resolved of any ties to the ‘Impossible girl’ story arc. Now I consider Clara to be one of my favourite companions, for no other reason other than that she is a real and complex character who is easy to relate with. So what went wrong in Series Seven then? Upon reflection it appears that the character was only at her best in the hands of Steven Moffat. Why this was, is anyone’s guess, perhaps the communication between writers was the cause of the lack of character development. What is important for Series Eight is that all writers have a clear idea of where the character is going and that she undergoes significant development throughout the course of the season’s narrative.

A Pink Problem

clara-and-danny-series-8Since the announcement that Samuel Anderson’s Danny Pink would become part of the regular cast I have a nagging worry at the back of my mind. I am aware that Coleman has recently spoken about the relationship between Danny and Clara. However I have not read these quotes as I am still trying to stay as ‘blind’ as possible, so this worry may be a little unfounded. I would suggest that it is a fair bet that relationship between the pair will be a romantic one, and that forms the basis of my doubts. There is no arguing that another relationship would add an interesting new layer to Clara’s character. However a companion who travels alone with the Doctor for half a series before being joined by their significant other, where have I seen that before? It may not necessarily be the case, but it’s hard not to draw similarities to the Ponds. Given that Moffat has only had Amy and Clara as main female companions so far, it is important that he does something new to differentiate. The dynamics of the Clara-Danny relationship needs to be vastly different to make Series Eight feel fresh.

Getting the pacing right.

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(27)The most important aspect of telling a good story is to deliver it over an appropriate timescale. This is something that Series Eight’s predecessor struggled with. Almost every episode felt like it could have done with some extra time to expand on what had been built during the narrative. If you need an example, look no further than The Power of Three, an episode which was shaping up to be a belter only to have its potential ruined by a horribly rushed ending. The most likely root of this problem was the idea of the ‘blockbuster of the week’ approach. With this seemingly dropped, I have high hopes that Series Eight will be able to deliver the goods, especially given Deep Breath’s extended run time and the fact we are getting a two part finale. Hopefully the show can learn from its past mistakes.

The arc, the whole arc, and nothing but the arc.

series-8-filming-finale-cybermenSteven Moffat’s mind must be filled with the most amazing ideas. To pull off an arc which spanned three series, led to the Doctor’s death, brought back the Time Lords and rebooted the universe, took a lot of skill. However I must confess that the long arc did get a little tedious and must have been extremely difficult for casual viewers to follow. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the three year arc, just that I feel a series would benefit from its own confined story arc. Again this does not guarantee success, Series Six is often criticised for being too ‘arc heavy’. My hope for Series Eight is that it contains its own arc which is teased throughout the series, but doesn’t dominate it and comes second to any individual narrative until the final. My worry is that Moffat will attempt something whose scale will detract from the other episode within the series.

Please save me from the (underdeveloped) Monsters

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(15)The monster line-up of a series is particularly important. It is usually nice to see a sprinkling of returning monsters along with some new fresh memorable creations. Choosing the correct monsters is not an easy feat, there are some who I feel need a hiatus before making a return. These include: The Weeping Angels, The Silence and the Daleks. The latter two, due to their prominence towards the end of the Smith era, means an appearance would be too soon. That is unless something unique is brought to the fore. Monsters that could be due for a return are the Vashta Nerada, the Krillitanes, whilst the Cybermen are in dire need of a strong story which re-establishes their threat within reasonable margins. Creating a new monster is a fine art in itself, something Series Seven fell rather short in doing. Monsters like the Whispermen, the Vigil, and the Mummy were hopelessly underutilised significantly denting the enjoyment of the respective episodes. From what I have seen in the Series Eight trailer it looks like there are going to be lots of new creations, so it is imperative for the series as whole that they are handled well.

Spoilers Sweetie

redkeepmespoilerfreeAs I’m sure we are all aware there have been massive leaks already with regards to Series Eight. This led to the #keepmespoilerfree campaign which proved to unite the majority of the Doctor Who fan base. Whilst this pitfall does not directly pertain to the series itself it does present a major risk to how the series is received. The inevitable plot twists and answers to the story arc will have their impact lessened if they are spoiled in advance, nothing quite lives up to the magic of witnessing something that is unexpected for the first time. This is why another major leak (or even a single person trying to spoil it for others) could have a destabilising effect on the success of the series.

Conclusion

I had better stop writing before I have a band of excited Whovians calling for my head. I did not write this article with the intention of being negative, but to assess what Series Eight needs to do in order to achieve its maximum potential. From what we have heard thus far, I am relatively confident that it will overcome these hurdles. With excitement levels at an all-time high, I really hope I haven’t put a dampener on spirits. I won’t apologise as I find it better to experience the joy for something to exceed your expectations than the disappointment when it comes up short. Here’s to a fantastic series (hopefully).

Step back in time...

COMMENT GUIDELINES

Please be civil and keep article comments relevant and on topic. Flag and report any offensive/trolling behavior, or contact us with details.
Please do not post SPOILERS including anything from leaked episodes! Your account could be banned. For complete details on our comment policy please read.
94 comments
Noybusiness
Noybusiness

I'm pretty I'll be convinced he's the Doctor from Moment One. Actually, I already am, because Moment One has already happened.

Polyphase
Polyphase

 Buzzwords such as ‘dark’, ‘alien’, and ‘adult’ have filled comment threads. As I have stressed before this presents a potential risk in that it could ruin the appeal of the show to children

I find this statement unusual because if you go back 30,40 or 50 years you find that ‘dark’, ‘alien’, and ‘adult’ describes the show almost perfectly. In fact it tried not to be condescending towards children at all :)

Brainlock
Brainlock

Clara - I think she had a lot of character development...which never left the writer's room, or got edited out due to timing and other issues.  There were so many times when it felt like they had just skipped an expository scene with her, it got tedious.  "Oh look! She's a got a mystery around her! YOU MUST LIKE HER!!" yeah, no. we had no reason to think she was anything but Companion #4987.


On top of that, her story was retconned between what we were told early in s7 and then what we saw in the xmas eps.


as for her and Danny, it seems more of a Rose/Mickey as well as Pond situation with me, but that's only going by who was cast, right now, rather than any knowledge of what his role in the overall story will be.  For all we know, it will be another Ian and Barbara coworker situation.


Monsters-

Weeping Angels - insert Gary's "Office Space" meme with "If the Weeping Angels could be timelocked for eternity, yeah, that'd be great."

Silence - ditto

Cybermen - not a fan of the "sleeker" Nightmare upgrade. maybe if they were scuba-attack Cybemen? not feeling them, otherwise.

Whispermen - should have been the Silents

Vigil - who?

Mummy - ...uh...from the living sun and kid singer ep? only other mummy I can think of is from TB's run in POM.

Vashta Nerada - better used sparingly, like the Angels should have been.

There is one more that is coming back, but I found it personally annoying, as it seems to be drawing from my "Albion" fic.  Then again, most of Moff's run has, and I had to start timestamping the chapters so people reading it would know I was writing it BEFORE the eps aired. someone diving in now would simply think I was doing Moffat's Greatest Hits Redux. I wish I was kidding! Look the stories up on fanfiction dot net and tell me I'm wrong!

I started it before Matt took over and you can check the dates (posting and timestamps) to see for yourself.

They're all my favorite Doctor
They're all my favorite Doctor

Excellent points. Well said. 

Though I would add one more potential pitfall: 

Mimicking. 

A lot has been made of this dynamic between 12 and Clara, that it may be sort of similar to Sherlock and Watson, which, if done right, could be great. However, if copied too heavily, could become bland and unoriginal. 

I think it was Sydney Newman who said that the Doctor was like Father Christmas, Sherlock Holmes, H.G. Wells, and C.S. Lewis all rolled into one. Each time there's a new Doctor, it's like each of those characters with adjustable levels like the traits on Ms. Kizlet's tablet computer in TBOSJ. (Well, it's nothing like that, but if it helps, yes). Ten was heavy on the H.G. Wells and Father Christmas, and Eleven was a little less H.G. Wells and more C.S. Lewis. Cranking down the C.S. Lewis and Father Christmas for 12 could be good, so long as it's done in an original manner and you don't completely lose those character traits and let it become just a mimicking of Cumberbatch and Freeman's (brilliant) performances (but set in space).




Beasts_a_Snarling
Beasts_a_Snarling

This article doesn't recgonize that the question Will Series 8 be good? Is all opinion. It's not fair that this article should define what makes a series good because it varies from fan to fan.

Petyr Cupalldy
Petyr Cupalldy

If anyone can make this show good, Capaldi is the man to do it. The moment they announced Peter as the new Doctor, all my fears went away.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

1) Oh, I don't know. You never know what a kid will like; they can really surprise you sometimes. And we know that Capaldi has the younger audience in mind; he coordinated his costume specifically so that it would be easy for kids to imitate. He knows how important the show was to him as a kid and I'm sure he wants to translate that into his own performance. But that doesn't mean he can't still be a stern, alien Doctor who charges aggressively into a situation. We've heard that he'll be like Tom Baker and Chris Eccleston, and kids loved them. And I definitely don't think that he will be entirely without that charm that we all love.  2) I think ClassicWhovian has it here; Clara may have seemed inconsistent in the previous series because she was originally meant to be Victorian; Modern Clara was a late-in-the-day invention that no doubt caused them to have to redraft the scripts. She'll be more level here, I'm sure of it.  3) Now here, I'm definitely not worried. I trust that Moffat knows what he's doing anyway, but from what it's been described as, it won't be the same thing as the Ponds. Besides, not everybody goes about romance in the same way. Clara doesn't have the childhood infatuation with the Doctor that Amy had, nor the reluctance to make meaningful connections with other people. So her reactions should be very different.  4) Boy howdy, this. Luckily, we know that the scenes will be longer and the stories more character-driven, and that should help a lot. A (deep) breath of fresh air, if you ask me. I loved Series 7; it produced some of my favorite episodes, but I do have to admit that Capaldi was spot-on when he described it as having a "breathless vigour." And that should change for this series.  5) Now, while I have said in the past that I want to keep the "superarcs" exclusive to Smith for a while and that we shouldn't jump right into another three-year plot, I would disagree with them becoming too messy and tedious, because really, the Smith arcs aren't actually all that intertwined. They're yearly arcs, just like in the RTD era. Series 5: The cracks. Resolved at the end. Series 6: Lake Silencio. Resolved at the end. Series 7: The Impossible Girl. Resolved at the end. The Silence was a pervading theme throughout, but not in such a way that you constantly had to keep note of every previous mention whenever an arc episode came along. You don't need to know that the Silence wants to kill the Doctor in order to follow the Series 7 arc, for example. Well, maybe I'll concede that the River storyline in 6 was tangled, but they always told you where she was relative to the Doctor whenever she appeared. And 6 was explicitly heavier on the arc anyway, which Moffat has said probably won't happen again. But ultimately... would casual viewers even, you know... care? "Casual viewer" implies that they're just tuning in to be entertained. I doubt they would put up much fuss.  6) Fully in agreement here.



Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

It's nice to have a tidy one season arc but I wouldn't mind seeing other sub-arcs or mysteries being teased and hinted at that go beyond season 8 (besides Gallifrey of course)

DawnTime
DawnTime

I loved the three year arc the more complicated the better for me

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I have a feeling that Clara will be better this year,as there will be more for her to do a new doctor ,a boyfriend ,it will be interesting to see how she juggles both the doctor and Danny. I have heard that Peter is having a bit of input, we will see if his ideas are good or not. I hope we get good monsters that scare the hell the hell out of us.I think steven in interviews is looking happy maybe he is pleased with what he has done so far. I am sure we will get very good episodes and some not so good , they have done their best

ClassicWhovian
ClassicWhovian

I think the problem writers had with Clara in series 7 was that she was originally going to be the Victorian Clara we met in The Snowmen, but this was changed, which may have led to re-writes or shifts in ideas from writers - at the very least the problem may have been that writers had nothing to go on, having not seen the companion they were writing for before....

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

Mark, I won't reveal spoilers for you on Clara and Danny, but the description of it from Jenna suggests it will be significantly different than Amy and Rory!

Don't Blink
Don't Blink

Pretty good list. The pacing seems most important to get right for me as that's one thing series 7 wasn't good at. Some nice simple character work would be great too - luckily "Deep Breath" has been said to deliver in that regard, and let's hope the rest of the series does too.

Whovian_Brownoat
Whovian_Brownoat

 Nice article. I agree with everything you said in the "The arc, the whole arc, and nothing but the arc" section. Especially teasing with an arc, but not dominating, a bit of a return to the RTD era...? I hope so.



TheNightmareChild is LISTENing!
TheNightmareChild is LISTENing!

Very concisely and eloquently expressed.  I didn't find this article at all negative.  This was a very honest and thoughtful discussion on the mistakes that this series could realistically make.  Personally, I'm not too worried about the tone issue.  As long as they don't go too adult with it it'll be great.  Besides, I don't think we give kids these days enough credit in terms of what they can handle or what they would be interested in anyway.  I am also confident that Clara will be at her greatest now that she is not being weighed down by the Impossible Girl arc.  In fact, I see her becoming a fan favorite before long.  I honestly hadn't even considered her relationship with Danny Pink before you mentioned how it sounds like it's going to be incredibly similar to the Ponds'.  And while that is a serious risk, I think their relationship will already be pretty different because from what I understand, they are not starting off romantically attached.  They are coworkers to start with, and it sounds like their relationship will develop from there.  

I personally like Series 7 a lot.  I might be one of the few fans that see it as a generally good series.  However, you are right in stating that it's pacing was definitely a weak point.  It sounds like with series 8 they are returning to something more akin to the RTD era in terms of arc format and, whatever you might have though of individual episodes or arcs during that time, the pacing was generally on point.  The show was also significantly less "arc heavy" at that time.  So that inspires confidence in me as well.  As for the monsters, the only one that I felt was really underdeveloped was the G.I. and the Whispermen, something that could've been remedied if [insert least favorite series 7 episode here] was removed and they had a two-part finale to help flesh them out a little better.  Honestly, there's not much I can say about the underdeveloped monster question except I just feel really really comfortable in the preemptive belief that they will generally be good.  I do agree that the Weeping Angels are maybe due for a break though.  The Daleks, on the other hand; if they just get their time to shine in episode two and then scuttle off for a while, I'll be happy.  I agree one-thousand percent though that the Cybermen need a proper good story, and a finale where they get to be the big bad is just the way to do it.  

Finally, in regards to spoilers: I have not had anything significant spoiled for me that I didn't want spoiled.  And even then, it was only the opening title sequence (which has unfortunately been removed from YouTube and is nowhere to be found elsewhere apparently. :( )  Seeing as there is only about a week left until the show comes back, I'm not worried about anything else getting spoiled for me at this point.  It is of course completely possible that I am dead wrong on a few of these points, but this is where I'm at right now and it's keeping me happy for the moment. :)

MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier
MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier

I feel I should say, dark doesn't necessarily alienate younger viewers, it depends how it's pulled off. Lots of pointless gory deaths certainly could (though it could also go as far as desensitising it), but other elements that create dark episodes, playing off fears and emotions or relatable settings and scenarios for example, wouldn't. "Dark" doesn't necessarily mean "adult".

Perhaps one possible pitfall is overly high expectations. Many of us (including myself) are already very enthusiastic about Capaldi and Series 8 - when we've not even seen it in action. We have to remember that while in our DW-starved states everything seems exciting and anticipation is rampant, there is no guarantee or reason for Capaldi to be the best Doctor, or Series 8 to be the best series. Building expectations too high can lead to disappointment, even if the episodes in question are generally strong.


Antee991166
Antee991166

Very good article! These are all problems that this series might face, and although it will probably fall into at least one of them, I am confident it can bypass most of them. However, I disagree with the darkness problem. Tom Baker's first 3 seasons as The Doctor was arguably the darkest era in the show's history, and is also the most popular with both fans and the general public, so I don't think that will be an issue.

Noybusiness
Noybusiness

@Brainlock The Vigil are the people responsible for making sure the Queen of Years is sacrificed.

PaddyB
PaddyB

@They're all my favorite Doctor Good point. I get the idea that Moffat likes to write sarcastic, calculating and super-intelligent characters so hopefully he doesn't just slip into default mode when writing for Capaldi's Doctor.

They're all my favorite Doctor
They're all my favorite Doctor

However, based on what Capaldi has said in a number of interviews about his character, I, myself, am pretty confident this will not be an issue.

The Genie
The Genie

@Beasts_a_Snarling An opinion article on an opinion site that has to explain itself as an opinion?


I'm starting to get really ticked off about people complaining like this because it so obviously is his opinion and he'd have to be a Year Four student not to realise that.  Come on people, a little common sense...



Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@ClassicWhovian That's true, though Neil Cross also wrote really well for her, RoA has a massive amount of backstory for her, while I find Hide portrays her character really well!

Brainlock
Brainlock

@They're all my favorite Doctor There were many times when it felt like we were missing scenes that could have filled us in a little more on Clara's story, but what we did get got retconned in the xmas special with her family...including a father that looked nothing like the flashback one and a mystery woman that was never explained. her aunt? or step-mother? or just his date/neighbor/neither?

PaddyB
PaddyB

@Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd  @TheNightmareChild sees into your soul! I think that TROA would have had a far greater sense of threat if The Vigil were revealed to be the previous choristers who were now essentially soulless (hence the name 'vigil' as during a wake the now empty shell of the dead body is watched over by family and friends).

It seemed a logical direction for the story to take yet instead they became dull, unexplained monsters who could be fended off with the sonic screwdriver!

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

Also, expanding on #5 a bit more because it's something that I have a lot of technical thoughts about but I didn't want my initial comment to go overboard, I think we need to remember that just because somebody isn't a hardcore Whovian, doesn't mean that they are a helpless little goldfish who aren't capable of figuring things out or following a basic premise, especially with Doctor Who since even under Moffat, it's not really a mytharc-based show. Taking a look at real mytharc-based programs; you can't just hop in on the middle of the fourth season of, say, Babylon 5 or Breaking Bad and expect to follow everything. Those shows both have very intricate, multi-year arcs and character dynamics which demand that you be aware of the story up to that point. But Doctor Who is different, because it's not arc-based TV. It's still largely episodic. There are arcs, but they're explored with an episodic format. Let's take "A Good Man Goes to War", for example. Yes, knowing about the Doctor's previous encounter with the Silence, as well as his death at Silencio, enhances one's understanding of the situation. But what is the actual premise of the episode? "The bad guys have taken Amy and her baby. The Doctor aims to retrieve her by stirring up an army. River Song's identity is revealed." And everything pertaining to those topics is explained in the episode for the most part. That's the mid-season finale of the most arc-intensive series, and yet the premise is as easy to follow as "Gridlock" (which is actually quite abundant in call backs and continuity)! Now there are off-cases, such as "The Time of the Doctor", but that was an "end of an era" episode and was just as continuity-heavy and self-referential as "Journey's End" and "The End of Time" were, because those were all "grand finales," and even regular finales aren't generally designed with "casual viewers" in mind because they're not really supposed to be. They're usually meant to bring everything that we've learned over the course of the series to a head. But at any rate, I don't see anything wrong whatsoever with a show assuming that its viewers are being, you know, viewers, and tuning in each week to watch it (especially nowadays since you can generally catch the episode later on at your convenience if need be). But that is, of course, also why they hype up the big episodes. They tell you, "You'll definitely want to watch next week to find out who River Song really is!" That's them saying, "Try not to miss this one, eh? It's got important stuff."

They're all my favorite Doctor
They're all my favorite Doctor

@Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor! A helpful hint someone on here gave me about Livefyre: 

When it's not letting you press 'enter' to go down to the next line, type the first letter of your new paragraph, then click the cursor just behind the letter and press 'enter.' Works every time for me. 





For example, I made this paragraph by typing "f" then clicking behind it and pressing enter. 






Now, to put a space between paragraphs, "simply" click the space before the word you've just moved ("Now" in this paragraph's case) and hit the spacebar then 'enter' again. 

Essentially, it works much better with reformatting existing text rather than just letting you type and organize a whole thought like a normal person.











Temporal Tomato
Temporal Tomato

I just thought it was generally awful. It was a real let down after what I considered to be a brilliant special the year before.