There are three standard Steven Moffat devices at play in the new Doctor Who episode, "Listen"--characters meeting child versions of other characters, the Doctor or Clara saying something wise to a child audience surrogate, and a threat that is based on the protagonist's perceptions--like the Silence or the Weeping Angels. There is a fun spin put on that last device, though, which I enjoyed even though I saw it coming pretty early on.
I liked it, but it kind of felt like Moffat doing his greatest hits. There was a bit that provided insight into the Doctor's character that I guess was okay but I rather wish the show would take some time off from being about the Doctor. From 1963 to 1989, the show was very rarely about the Doctor, the new series is almost always about the Doctor. I have to think that's going to cut into its longevity a bit, how many times and ways can you say the Doctor is a pacifist hero with a bit of a guilt complex? It feels sort of like a video game where the player spends all day on the character creation screen. Mind you, I love the character creation screen, so I understand.
Still really not feeling Danny Pink. The episode hints pretty heavily that Danny and Clara are going to end up together, these hints seemingly meant to compensate for the complete lack of chemistry between the two.
The Doctor has a really funny line regarding Danny's profession. I loved the Doctor's driving motive in the episode and his interaction with the desk clerk. Capaldi gives so much weight to this stuff but it all still feels like it was written for Matt Smith. Maybe it's just because I've tied Moffat's writing voice to Smith's performance style so much in my mind.
I want to point out that while Clara wasn't wearing a particularly wild outfit in this episode it was still weirder than the Doctor's outfit. The Doctor's outfit is cool, nice, simple, sleek black. But maybe one good argument for a female Doctor would be the possibility of the makers of the show finding the courage to put her in a truly eccentric outfit again. Bow ties are cool, yes, but they sell them at Macy's. Tennis shoes with a suit, that's slightly . . . odd, I guess. But where are the umbrellas, the spectator shoes, the inexplicable vegetables in the lapel, the suit two sizes too big? The Companion's outfit should never be weirder than the Doctor's.
I did really like the point the episode made on the usefulness of fear. Star Wars links fear to the Dark Side but, as Clara points out, it's knowing fear that can make one kind. It occurs to me that the devaluing of fear, either by machismo or spiritualism, works directly against empathy.
Twitter Sonnet #665
Star shaped pasta pollutes the sea bottom.
Submerged callipers languish for coral.
Cheap anemones cheat all who bought 'em.
Our lanternfish is sweetly amoral.
Weightless noses serenely glide up bridge.
Normal malcontents trouble the orbit.
Balloon livery lines up on the ridge.
The Gold One burned in a yellow habit.
Calm kerchief challenges absorb liquid.
Note the chocolate yellow operation.
Aqualung laissez-faire aced intrepid.
A full house clubs spade participation.
Recursive nightmare chalk always comes back.
The one man train rides a circular track.