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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.1 “The Pilot”
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who 10.1 The Pilot BBC

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 1 “The Pilot”
Directed by Lawrence Gough
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Stephanie Hyam
BBC America
Air date: April 15, 2017

At last, at last, Doctor Who returns to the airwaves regularly for the first time since December 2015! The long wait is over. We finally get to see Peter Capaldi kick off his last season playing the Doctor. We also start to find out what Steven Moffat has in store for his sixth and final tour through the Doctor Who universe. To top it off, we are introduced to new companion Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie. The result is fairly wonderful introduction to a textured new companion, told with a grace and charm that highlights the strengths of the show.

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‘Doctor Who’: Peter Capaldi Stepping Down As The Doctor
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Peter Capaldi To Step Down After Next Season Of Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi revealed on Monday night that the coming season of Doctor Who will be his last as the Doctor.

Speaking to BBC Radio, he said to Jo Whatley that “I feel sad, I love Doctor Who, it is a fantastic program to work on, but I don’t know how long I can give it my best, and if I’m not giving it my best, I don’t want to do it.” As there is no final word on the schedule for the next season of Doctor Who, the exact date of his last episode is unknown. If it sticks to the traditions of the modern series however, the Doctor will regenerate either during or immediately before the 2017 Christmas episode.

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‘Doctor Who’ Coming To Amazon Prime On March 27th
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who logo and TARDIS from the Netflix web site

It’s been a rough few months for Doctor Who fans in the United States who want to watch their favorite show. First, the news came in late January that only a single episode of new Who, the Christmas Special, would be broadcast in 2016 with Season 10 following in the spring of 2017. Then, both Hulu and Netflix announced a few days later that Doctor Who was disappearing from their respective rosters at the end of January. That left Doctor Who fans in the United States with no ability to stream the program legally. Doctor Who went dark for much of North America starting in early February.

The time of darkness is now over. Amazon announced today that it reached an agreement with the BBC to exclusively stream Doctor Who in the United States on Amazon Prime starting on Sunday, March 27th. Prime customers will be able to watch seasons one through eight and their associated holiday specials starting that day, with the ninth season being made available this fall. Presumably, Classic Doctor Who will appear sometime in the near future.

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‘Doctor Who’: Steven Moffat Stepping Down; Season 10 Will Air In 2017
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

SDCC 2012: Doctor Who panel: Stephen Moffat

Three BIG pieces of big Doctor Who news have come out of the BBC in the past 24 hours. First, showrunner Steven Moffat will be stepping down after finishing Season 10. Second, we also won’t be seeing that season for quite a while: the only new Doctor Who to be broadcast in 2016 will be the Christmas Special with Season 10 to follow in Spring of 2017. Finally, Broadchurch creator and showrunner Chris Chibnall will take over for Moffat in 2018.

What does this mean for Doctor Who? Plenty, I am sure! Love him or hate him, Moffat’s contributions to the series are significant and impossible to ignore. With written contributions going back as far as Season 1, he’s written for all of the modern Doctors. As producer, he’s cast two of them: Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. He’s made the show plenty of new fans, and (unfortunately) made many fans into critics of how he runs the series. Read more about this and Chris Chibnall below.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 2015 Christmas Special
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who Christmas 2015 BBC America

Doctor Who
2015 Christmas Special “The Husbands Of River Song”
Directed by Douglas McKinnon
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Alex Kingston, Matt Lucas, Greg Davies
BBC America
Air date: December 25, 2015

When it comes to modern Doctor Who, I have to admit a soft spot for River Song. That’s especially true of her first appearance in “Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead.” Written by Steven Moffat, it was one of the brighter spots of the Russell Davies era. It has some entertaining plot twists, an energetic performance by Alex Kingston, and a sudden opening of new possibilities for what the Doctor could be and for what show could look like.

It’s been seven years and River Song is back. That future happened. Russell Davies and David Tennant turned into Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, and now Peter Capaldi. We know River Song’s origins and the meaning of her name. We’ve learned much about her history and something of the Doctor’s as well. Does this latest encounter polish or tarnish the legacy of their time together? Let’s find out.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 9.12 “Hell Bent”
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who 9.12 Hell Bent BBC America

Doctor Who
Season 9, Episode 12 “Hell Bent”
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Maisie Williams, Ken Bones, T’nia Miller, Clare Higgins
BBC America
Air date: December 5, 2015

This week, we find the Doctor back on Gallifrey, the home of Time Lords. It’s a place of many traps, both for the Doctor and for Doctor Who. There is the Doctor’s own, occasionally troubled relationship with his own people. There is the temptation to reveal too much about who the Doctor really is. There is frequently the desire to indulge in the worst kind of fan nostalgia by summoning up key words, faces, and objects from the past.

In this week’s episode, “Hell Bent,” I think the Doctor emerges relatively unscathed, but only after the showrunner Steven Moffat leads us through some abrupt and unconvincing turns that aim high but cater to the show’s worst storytelling tendencies.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 9.11 “Heaven Sent”
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who 9.11 Heaven Sent BBC

Doctor Who
Season 9, Episode 11 “Heaven Sent”
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Jami Reid-Quarrell
BBC America
Air date: Saturday, November 28, 2015

WARNING: SPOILERS for Season 9 of Doctor Who

This week on Doctor Who, Episode 9.11 “Heaven Sent,” we are forced to consider the myths of Prometheus, the Greek Titan. In an episode featuring only three actors, the Doctor is trapped in a prison apparently designed to both punish and tantalize him. A method of escape apparently exists, but it comes at a horrible price. It is a beautifully atmospheric piece of Gothic horror with a clockwork castle, an amorphous death-like adversary, and plenty of chills that bite deeply enough to hit bone.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 9.10 “Face The Raven”
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who 9.10 Face The Raven BBC

Doctor Who
Season 9, Episode 10 “Face The Raven”
Directed by Justin Molotnikov
Written by Sarah Dollard
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Joivan Wade, Maisie Williams
BBC America
Air date: Saturday, November 21, 2015

WARNING: SPOILERS for Seasons 8 & 9 of Doctor Who

This week on Doctor Who, Episode 9.10 “Face The Raven,” we finally start to see the end of the season in the distance. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, we can say that now is not the end, but it is, in one sense, the end of the beginning and, in another, the beginning of the end. Both concern one piece of business that must be dealt with: the departure of Clara Oswald, the Impossible Girl. One actress sets that end in motion, and another brings it to its conclusion. Along the way, both discover that while they aspire to be with the Doctor or like the Doctor, there is price to pay whenever someone who is not the Doctor acts as the Doctor does. That’s a powerful idea, but it gets lost in an episode that was merely good and not great.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 9.9 “Sleep No More”
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who 9.9 Sleep No More BBC

Doctor Who
Season 9, Episode 9 “Sleep No More”
Directed by Justin Molotnikov
Written by Mark Gatiss
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Reece Sheersmith, Elaine Tan
BBC America
Air date: Saturday, November 14, 2015

This week’s episode of Doctor Who, 9.9 “Sleep No More,” seems to pose a question: Can the Doctor ever lose? In over 50 years, we’ve seen some rather pyrrhic victories (as in “Doctor Who And The Silurians” or “A Good Man Goes To War”), some inevitable stalemates (as in “Genesis Of The Daleks), or even the occasional tragedy (as in “Earthshock”), but we’ve rarely, if ever, seen him lose. What would a loss look like? Would the Doctor escape? Would anyone be hurt? How would the Doctor fail to grasp the full scope of the situation?

Writer Mark Gatiss presents us with such a situation this week. Framed as a sort of found-footage horror film, the Doctor and Clara escape with their lives but allow their enemy to achieve its goal. This raises two competing sets of issues. First, there are matters of plot convention; the twist ending that sets up an escape and/or sequel to a horror film is a pretty stock affair at this point. At the same time, this competes with the fact that the Doctor’s success rate averages somewhere very close to 100 percent of the time. An entity that defeats the Doctor had better be something pretty special, and sadly, much of “Sleep No More” is worse than average. Given Gatiss’ track record with the series, as well as his work on Sherlock and An Adventure In Space And Time, one should hope for better. This time, he pretty well missed the mark.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 9.8 “The Zygon Inversion”
Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  

Doctor Who 9.8 The Zygon Inversion BBC

Doctor Who
Season 9, Episode 7 “The Zygon Inversion”
Directed by Daniel Nettheim
Written by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Jemma Redgrave, Ingrid Oliver
BBC America
Air date: Saturday, November 7, 2015

In 1882, an author by the name of Frank R. Stockton wrote a now famous short story called “The Lady, or The Tiger?” In it, a barbaric king decides to mete out justice using trial by ordeal. The accused of crime is placed in an arena with two doors. The accused must open a single door. Behind one, there is a lady that the king decided is an appropriate match for the accused, that accused must marry if the door is opened. Behind the other is a fierce, hungry tiger that will devour the accused if the other choice is made.

That is very much the sort of conundrum that is the presented in Episode 9.7 “The Zygon Inversion” this week on Doctor Who. Does the world end in fire and violence? Or does everyone go on, committed to something different? How do you choose? Which do you choose, the Lady or the tiger?

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