Series 8 Episode 1
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Ben Wheatley
I am a “Whovian”, and have been since I was a kid. It was sometime during the mid to late eighties when I accidentally stumbled upon this incredible show on my local PBS station after watching Monty Python. If I recall correctly, we only had like five or six channels and the public broadcasting station just had better quality programming back then, it was the HBO of the eighties for me, in a manner of speaking.
Something about the show just demanded my attention, the intro theme music that just sounded really cool to me with the catchy melodic eeriness that sounded unlike anything I had ever heard (I still believe it inspired the X-Files theme). My first doctor was Tom Baker, because those were the episodes that were airing when I discovered this fascinating sci-fi program
So anyway, like I said on Twitter last night, the episode was awesome. Not one of the best DW episodes in my opinion, but a great premiere nonetheless. The one thing clearly evident in this episode was the new doctor’s performance. Capaldi was brilliant and convincing in just about every scene he was in. His regeneration hangover (to me) was reminiscent of the fifth doctor’s (Peter Davison) transition in ‘Castrovalva’. The twelfth doctor’s incertitude immediately came across as Capaldi would make references to his (Baker’s) big long scarf, and has difficulty distinguishing his companions and friends.
Something else that came across my mind last night was how the DW audience develops this serious love and endearing relationship with not just each doctor, but the actor playing him as well. It is difficult and heartbreaking for many to let go of that bond when a doctor passes, even with the knowledge that his legacy will continue through another actor. Saying farewell to Matt Smith (a huge fan favorite) was almost exactly what Classic Who fans dealt with over thirty-three years ago when they were forced to let go of Tom Baker in “Logopolis”. Peter Davison had a lot to live up to, and it would be under his tenure that I became a true DW fan and go on to enjoy some of my favorite classic episodes (Earthshock, The Guardian Trilogy, Resurrection of the Daleks).
Capaldi shines brightly and excels in “Deep Breath”. The episode itself was full of great moments and has everything fans have come to expect from a Moffat written script. First of all I loved the new opening title sequence and that they are sticking with showing us the doctor’s face, the way they use to with classic Who. They brought it back with Matt Smith and it appears as if they will continue to do so with Peter Capaldi. Set in London during the Victorian era, the story includes a misplaced dinosaur inadvertently taken out of its time, and the return of the Clockwork Droids that are evidently in search of a utopia. The androids are frightening and give the episode that benchmark horror element we so often see in Doctor Who (instead of “Don’t Blink” it’s “Don’t Breathe”).
The supporting cast all bring strong performances, as we see Clara and the Paternoster Gang contributing and playing vital roles in this episode. They struggle but do their best to help the Doctor adjust to his new incarnation, and key in helping determine the outcome of the story. They provide strong and witty dialogue along with well-placed humor as expected. Again I go back to 1982’s ‘Castrovalva’ and how Adric, Tegan, and Nyssa dealt with the fifth Doctor’s regeneration after-effects. Also, I absolutely loved the phone call that the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) makes to Clara near the end, telling her how scared he will be (or is) and that he needs her now more than ever. Smith sort of played the role of “The Watcher” that we kept seeing during Tom Bakers end in “Logopolis”. When the fourth Doctor’s companions realized that he was dying, Baker tells them that the moment has been prepared for, as The Watcher’s soul embodies Bakers body and the regeneration occurs. This gives them a sense of reassurance, and they welcome the fifth doctor (Peter Davison) and his new appearance. Personally to me, Matt Smith’s phone call to Clara brought that same reassurance.
The ending was a bit odd, as our paradise seeking Clockwork Android seemingly finds what he had been seeking, and it seems inevitable that we have not seen the last of these terrifying part organic, part robotic adversaries. Also in the end, if that is indeed heaven, who is this gatekeeper that claims to be the Doctor’s girlfriend? I can’t wait to find out.
REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO “DEEP BREATH”
Peter Rodriguez (Geek Sushi)