It's weird, but this season has finally made me start loving Doctor Who again. I've actually started wanting to rewatch episodes (the last couple of seasons, I've literally only got round to rewatching in the last few weeks before the next season, and then only really because I honestly couldn't remember what had come before) and discuss them and think about them again. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed that – the interaction with fandom and the fun of looking at episodes as a writer again. The fact that I can. Because I'm pretty sure the reason I stopped doing that was that, mostly, Moffat's Who just doesn't make any sense. Oh sure, it's chock full of meaningful imagery and timey-wimey cleverness and intricate writing, but the one place where it seems to fail is in making sense from a character point of view. The main reason I stopped analysing it is because I couldn't work out the characters' motivations in doing what they do, and that was a shame because that's what I watch drama for. It's what I'm interested in – the people in a story, far less than the story itself. And while Moffat's stories are often wonderful, they often, for me, lack a strong sense of character and that's made me lose touch with the series.
I don't really know what's changed this season but somehow I feel like I'm connecting with the Doctor again for the first time in way too long. I suspect a large part of it is the marvellous acting of Peter Capaldi, but I've also started to connect with Clara too, and feel that her character was finally starting to actually show the traits they kept saying she had (the recklessness, the control freak thing), so obviously it's not just the acting. Either something's changed in the writing, or something's changed in my brain!
The reason I started thinking about this was that I was re-watching Last of the Time Lords with my son last night (and Utopia and The Sound of Drums a couple of nights before) and I still love those episodes to bits, even though I've watched them about a hundred trillion times, both for research because I used to write the Master and (still write) Jack, and because I just loved them. I know exactly what's going to happen in every single moment of each episode, but I still love watching them and I still get something out of watching them, because there's just so much to see. Okay, so the Tinkerbell Doctor ending is incredibly twee, and I still don't see why Martha actually needed to get up to the Valiant in time for the countdown etc. etc., but I don't care, because everything is driven by character and in that respect it makes sense. And the characters and their interactions are fabulous. (Also, last night, I even spotted something new – or possibly something I'd once known but had since forgotten – the fact that the Master's screwdriver sounds like a sword coming out of a sheath when it's being activated, which fits in beautifully with all his other 'old-time villain' traits such as loving a countdown and corny dialogue.)
I can't imagine wanting to watch even the best of season 9 (the first two, Ashildr's second ep, the Zygon ones, the final three) as many times as I've watched the Master trilogy, but at least I feel like there's something there again. Something that's made me connect with Doctor Who and its characters again.
After all this time, it's quite a relief!