In a previous post I discussed a method of casting I believe to have been employed on Season 3 of HBO’s Girls whereby there was a conscious effort to cast actors of color in peripheral roles in the wake of backlash against the show for its lack of minority representation. It appears to me that Doctor Who, a series which faced a similar backlash for its representation of people of color, is employing the same method.
This season, there’s been an influx of people of color playing whom I’ll call “small c companions.” By that I mean major supporting characters within specific episodes or arcs that assist The Doctor or his companion. Mickey Smith is probably the best example from earlier seasons. This year we’ve had Courtney from Cole Hill School, Rigsy in Flatline, and of course Danny Pink. While I’d still love to see a more diverse range of Doctors and Companions going forward, I like the results of this casting, intentional or not. It can only lead to good things, in my opinion.
Clara’s development was the strongest aspect of this installment. This was another good Clara episode. We’re finally starting to get a sense of her character and her identity-who she is in relation to The Doctor and for herself. Clara and this Doctor actually compliment each other, as opposed to Clara just being an appendage as she was throughout much of Series 7. Clara is driving much more of the action this season, acting independently, and making decisions. She’s become a much stronger character both for and within the narrative.
Although I did enjoy this episode, “Flatline” serves as another example of where they have a really good concept that only takes them so far. After we discovered what the creatures were the narrative, well, flattened out a bit. I think they could have done with a bit more eeriness and claustrophobic tension-a sense of the walls closing in on them. All the same, this was another pretty strong effort in an especially strong season.