The first episode of the new season, cheekily called "the Pilot", felt like a reboot. Clara has gone and Clara (no fault of Jenna Coleman, entirely the fault of Steven Moffat) was at the heart of the tangle the show had gotten itself into. In her place we have Pearl Mackie's Bill Potts who seems like she's going to be a straightforward, quirky, uncomplicatedly likeable companion in the classic mould. The story itself is in Moffat's best vein (because he is a good writer in spite of everything)- self-contained- with laughs, thrills, scares and a dab of thwarted romance. If things carry on like this I may get back to blogging every week.
I haven't yet imprinted on Capaldi's Doctor and probably won't get round to it now. The problem I'm having with him is he's just too Doctory- too obviously so- wild hair, spidery frame, all that jive- like a melding of John Pertwee and Tom Baker with a dash of William Hartnell's crotchetiness and another of Matt Smith's bounce. Mostly in the past there was a randomness about the casting- and why not when his fresh appearance is always such a surprise to the Doctor himself?- and we kept being surprised by difference. Troughton, for instance wasn't a bit like Hartnell, and who- going on past form- would have thought the lot would have fallen on clownish Sylvester McCoy? It's a great role- that accepts almost any type of actor- and in some instances (Pertwee for one, McCoy for another)stretches them beyond their established persona. In the modern era Ecclestone, northern, chippy, virile- represented a considerable break with tradition and Tennant and Smith were both highly distinctive. With Capaldi it's as if they looked round for someone who reminded them of Doctors past- and that was- I think- a little bit lazy of them.
Moffat has just this one season left- and it's looking as if he wants to leave a fond memory behind. There's no time or space- thank goodness- for one of his enormous fading story arcs. I may not warm to Capaldi but I accept him as a competent placeholder and know that he's a safe pair of hands, Bill Potts looks to be the most relatable companion since Donna and I'm happy to have Matt Lucas- a reliable funnyman who's been marking time recently- on board as the robot butler.
Then the Chibnall era begins and there'll be a clean sweep of current personnel and a new beginning. And if it doesn't deliver the first female Doctor it'll be a great opportunity missed.