Seems like as good a time as any to do a "what do you think of it so far," since we've reached a significant milestone - all the episodes which were leaked earlier in the year have now been broadcast.
And yes, I did download both the scripts and the episodes. Watched Deep Breath, Robin Hood and bits of Into the Dalek, but resisted temptation for the rest. Didn't bother reading the scripts either, except for post-broadcast to check a couple of lines here and there.
So, I'd seen this twice by the time it was actually broadcast - the leaked episode followed by the premiere in Cardiff. Good job I really liked it, then, isn't it? It's always nice to see the Paternoster Gang back, and Jenna Coleman seems to be relaxing into a more archetypal companion role now that she's freed of the whole "Impossible Girl" malarkey. Peter Capaldi settled into the role fairly comfortably (he had me from "shush". Actually, that's a lie, he had me from about the moment his name started to be rumoured in connection with the part late last July/early August, a few days ahead of the Zoe Ball-hosted announcement programme), but didn't really do anything to make me sit up and go "that's it, he's nailed it!" the way I did part way through Matt Smith's weeping angels two-parter.
The plot was good and solid, and Peter Ferdinando particularly impressed me as the half-face man. Presumably given his closing scene with Missy (the Michelle Gomez character) there's a chance he might be back, either later in the season or next year. One can only hope. It could perhaps have been trimmed a bit - some of the debate between Clara and Vastra about the Doctor didn't really seem to go anywhere, and (as others have said) seemed to be more Moffat's way of saying "shut up" to the "OMG Capaldi's too old to play the Doctor!!!" crowd. But yeah, a strong start. At the time I rated it 9 out of 10. I might revise that estimate down a bit, to 8 out of 10.
Into the Dalek
Derivative of both Fantastic Voyage and Doctor Who's earlier riff on the same, The Invisible Enemy, and also function as a thematic sequel of sorts to Christopher Eccleston's Dalek episode ("you would make a good Dalek"/"you are a good Dalek"), this was another strong one, albeit nothing special with hindsight. Still, it's good to see the Dalek army attacking en masse and obliterating their enemies. That's not been done properly for ages. Still no wild epiphany moment with Capaldi's Doctor yet, either. Again, about 8 out of 10 for me.
Robot of Sherwood
I've got mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the episode itself is light and frothy - in a real sense, it's the closest the programme's come to pantomime in some time, if ever, closer to Disney's Robin Hood than Richard Carpenter's Robin of Sherwood in style. On the negative side, though, the Doctor in this episode (and I'm loathe to blame Capaldi, since it seemed to be mostly down to Gatiss's script) was more harsh and unpleasant than he's ever been in the programme's history, even worse than the ninth Doctor's comparison of the human race to stupid apes. Threatening to punch Robin Hood was a new low.
Which is a pity, because the episode itself was good fun, entertainingly riffing off the Robin Hood myth with its "well...it's not real...but maybe it is..." approach (go on; do Arthur and Merlin now...), Ben Miller totally camping it up as the Sheriff, and Clara being given some sweet moments and a rather fetching dress to wear too. And you'd have to have a heart of stone not to have had a slightly moist eye when Maid Marian showed up at the end.
Maybe a 7 out of 10?
(I still think Robin should have his own spin-off series. Possibly with the Paternoster gang and Nefertiti and Riddell from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship...(
Going all out for the scare factor here, and kind of managing it, although in hindsight less effectively than Hide managed last year, simply because...well, it doesn't really make much sense as a plot. Or at least it left a few too many unresolved questions for me. But I think I might need to give it another watch before I come down too harsh on it - I recall enjoying much of it at the time. So I'm not going to give it an out of 10 score at the moment.
Personally I didn't mind that ending, with Clara offering words of comfort to the young Doctor, but I understand it's been rather controversial around the rest of fandom.
I enjoyed that one, although again I want to give it a rewatch, if only because the twist at the end totally changes ones understanding of everything that's gone before (bit like Girl in the Fireplace in that respect. Strong story, well written and acted, shame Keeley Hawes was almost unrecognisable (well, she was to me, any way) meaning that the supporting cast seemed like total strangers to me. And, given the way the story panned out, to the Doctor and Clara as well. It was kind of difficult to care much about the bank robbers, really, as we had so little time to get properly invested in them.
Visually, it was an incredibly impressive story - an effects tour de force.
However, one thing I will say - it was in this episode that I had that Capaldi epiphany moment I've been waiting for all series, that feeling that, oh, hang on, he's not just an actor playing the Doctor - he actually has become the Doctor.
So...that's my random thoughtlets on the season so far. Wonder what the next few episodes will bring..?