Let’s all take a deep breath and see if this new, older, Doctor is any good. The long and short of it? Peter Capaldi is great. One episode down and he’s already won me over wholeheartedly. When Smith announced he was leaving the role my first thought was “I hope they cast an older Doctor.” When they cast The Thick of It Star as the Doctor I thought, “He’s great, but he’s been in Doctor Who twice?! Was there no one else?” Of course that wasn’t a worry about his ability to act and be brilliant – part of me didn’t want the familiar face but another part was very excited to see Capaldi fly the T.A.R.D.I.S.
Death! Murder! Mayhem! are wreaking havoc in Victorian London. A steampunk styled cyborg is murdering people, and Dinosaurs, while the Doctor is pulling himself together after recently regenerating. Clara is having trouble coping with the new Doctor and Vasta and co are there to help along the way.
We can all take a long sigh of relief after that deep breath. After two questionable series of mismanaged plot lines, poor character arcs, and easy screwdriver resolves we finally get back how a Doctor Who story should be told. Doctor Who was never been about flashy action set pieces but slow burning mysteries. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t action and excitement before, there was! Deep Breath is the first episode to get that right in a very long time. The tone and pace of the narrative isn’t rushed and you have plenty of time to embrace the new Doctor while following familiar faces.
Capaldi nails the role superbly! He harks back to the first three Doctors quite a bit! He has the ‘old man’ attitude like the first, the ‘quirk’ of the second, and the style resemblance and action mind of the third. He certainly is a darker Doctor. The implied killing of the cyborg has me raising an eyebrow, is this Doctor okay with killing? Don’t think he isn’t without humour, he is quite a funny Doctor still. Where the 11th Doctor was quite childish and bug-eyed Capaldi is much more serious which makes his humour a bit more adult.
Clara is still one of the dullest companions. Throughout the story she seems to have this hugely narcissistic attitude that she is the most important person in the universe and it does tend to grate on me. (Here’s hopping the rumours of her departure are true!). It still seems they can’t be consistent with her personality. Considering she has “seen all the Doctor’s faces” her reaction to this regeneration is slightly confusing. She doesn’t like him because he’s not the dashing young whippersnapper to steal her away in the night. Well, sorry Clara for someone who knows all the Doctors you should be okay with this new face! If she was having trouble with his personality, that is more understandable, but for her to complain about the way he looks. Many of the Doctors haven’t been spring chickens. She ought to know better. But more importantly is shows us how shallow Clara is a person.
Vastra and Co make their return after nearly dying but not dying in the Name of the Doctor. I admit I haven’t been a fan of these character since their odd introduction into the series. Their importance to the Doctor baffled me and still does. However, in this episode they were more enjoyable. I still feel they are Moffat’s way of promoting his own views on religion and lifestyle which for me get’s a little trying and not what I want from a children’s program.
I thought it was a nice touch to give Matt Smith’s Doctor a cameo. I don’t recall a Doctor reaching out to his companion after a regeneration. While to some it might look like it’s Smith’s endorsement of this new Doctor, I just found it a fun piece of story telling. I wouldn’t want to see it every time we get a new Doctor but as a rare moment it was fun.
Another thing that is abundantly clear is that the flirting between Clara and the Doctor completely and utterly dead. I think the relationship between 10 and Donna was why everyone loved them. No romance at all! Just good old adventuring. Capaldi’s Doctor is the adventurer, the mad man in a box, and not spacemen looking for a new girlfriend. The role of the companion will undoubtedly go back to the way they were during the original series; the way they should be. In fact, you can see from Deep Breath that there is a lot of things harking to the original series and for this I am thankful.
I feel hopeful that series 8 will stir things in a new direction for the revamped series started in 2005.
What did you think of the Deep Breath and the new Doctor?