Doctor Who: Flawed, Final Matt Smith Series 7 Saved by Jenna Coleman
Don't know why it took weeks, but the BBC finally released the compilation video for the second half of Season 7 of the new Doctor Who, which was Jenna Coleman's debut and Matt Smith's final season.
There's so much to look at in this half-season. Showrunner Steven Moffat's best and worst are both on display here. He works hard to give us big, crazy, unexpected Science Fiction ideas. There's an embarrassment of riches with a planet-sized god-like alien that eats memories, a creature in a nightmare dimension, Ice Warriors on a Soviet nuclear submarine, there's an odd recurrence of Victorian-era villains this season as well as the return of Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Katrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey), there's an Alien-style horror episode in the TARDIS, there's an unsatisfactory Cyberman story scripted by Neil Gaiman, his second and last script for the show.
In Clara, Moffat shows his ability to write a fun, plucky, charismatic heroines, only to undermine that by making them subservient to the hero and moon over them. Moffat does the same thing with Irene Adler in season 2 of Sherlock. "The Impossible Girl" is a sexist arc. The Doctor sees Clara as a mystery to be solved, a prize to be won, the prize being the tool that saves the Doctor in the end. Coleman looks like she's really having fun. The instantly visible chemistry between her and Smith was there from the start when the Doctor became a version of Scrooge in the Christmas Special.
For all the season's flaws, this second half of Doctor Who became a showcase for Coleman's acting range. Coleman reportedly aced her audition when she showed she could talk faster than Smith. Clara Oswald was her highest profile role since she was a regular on Emmerdale playing a teenager. She could go play anything the scripts threw at her, from fast-talking screwball comedy to screaming terror to tragic pathos effortlessly. It makes us look forward to her Joanna Constantine in Sandman.