Details: Aired on the BBC in 2017. The Christmas Special aired in 2016. Twelve episodes with each episode somewhere between forty-five minutes to an hour long.
I think Matt Smith’s impact on the Doctor Who series is profound in that his tenure was one of the most successful, if not the most successful. That creates problems, especially for his successor, Peter Capaldi. You see, Smith was so charismatic, had such presence in each episode, that the writers could write whatever dumb, lazy, ill thought out crap they wanted and Matt Smith would just deliver the hell out of those lines. He’d play that quirky, charming Doctor and we’d go along for the ride, no matter how little sense the plot made. The problem is that Capaldi is neither as young nor is his performance as in your face or charming as Smith’s and that is intentionally so. Doctor Who writers can no longer rely on the leading actor to fill in all the writing errors and instead have to write good stories.
Capaldi’s first season seemed to be that adjustment period. The stories weren’t great because they needed to learn how to write for a Doctor that wasn’t Matt Smith. This second season of Capaldi’s tenure is far better in that the stories and science fiction concepts expressed in here are far better and held my interest better. I’m glad they relied less on Capaldi, even though he did a good job here. Series 10 is a good season of science fiction and I enjoyed it very much.
This season primarily consisted of a bunch of standalone episode with a different dilemma of the week, which I liked. There are few overarching plot threads and those that exist were barely touched upon. Instead, each episode explores a new, science fiction idea and I think that’s what made it so enjoyable. I won’t ruin it by discussing the plots.
The most important thing in this season — I think — is the writing. Instead of writing stories that served Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor, I felt that they wrote stories that fit Capaldi. In other words, they just wrote some good science fictions stories that many actors probably could have played, not just Capaldi. Capaldi was good, but he didn’t stand out, which was fine to me because the stories were fine.
The new companion also grew on me over the season. She didn’t fit the classic potential misguided love interest that the last few companions were, but that’s what made her unique. She was the Doctor’s friend and at no point in time was she anything more. The Doctor chose her to be her friend and teacher, nothing else. There’s something beautiful about that.
Overall, it was a good season of science fiction stories. There was still that morality that the Doctor always has, but there’s also a realism in embracing losses and cruelties that Matt Smith’s Doctor didn’t do. Capaldi’s tenure is undoubtedly darker and more serious, but I think that’s a good thing in order to change the tone of the show, play towards Capaldi’s strengths and walk towards something different from Matt.