Doctor Who: Series 8 Review – ‘Deep Breath’
Showrunner: Steven Moffat
Starring: Peter Capaldi & Jenna Louise Coleman
Series 8, Episode 1 – ‘Deep Breath’
Well, here we go! It’s officially a new era for everyone’s favorite time lord. Peter Capaldi (In the Loop) has officially taken over the TARDIS full-time from series veteran Matt Smith, but the burning question on everyone’s mind is, “How will Peter Capaldi fare as The Doctor?” In a word, brilliantly.
The premiere episode, ‘Deep Breath’, starts out with a T-Rex running through London while choking on the TARDIS. Now that’s an entrance. What better way to go through your post-regeneration hysteria than to bring a T-REX to LONDON!!! Personally, I’m all for it.
- Peter Capaldi – While the story may not have been the strongest to introduce Peter Capaldi on, he really made it work. He is a wonderful contrast to Chris Eccleston, David Tennent and Matt Smith. As much of the hype focused on, this is a much darker Doctor. That said, I would say that his softer moments are more effective. He is a person that lives with hard choices constantly but still fights on. In my opinion, some of his best moments of the episode were with Clara in the TARDIS and in Glasgow. Capaldi gives the Doctor both an edge and a vulnerability that sucks you in right from the start. The scene in the ship where he has a heart to heart with the leader of the clockwork droids, pours the wine and tells the droid how things are going to be, in my opinion, is his “I’m the Doctor” moment.
- Capaldi Rides a Horse in Pajamas to Save a T-Rex – Nothing else needs to be said.
- Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax – What else could you ever ask for? Strax still wants unconditional surrender (oops, I mean wants to give a physical) and Madame Vastra and Jenny, the crime sleuthing couple, are as entertaining as ever. Their roles in this episode do seem a little muttled as they are really placeholders while The Doctor recuperates, but their charm consistently comes through and remains ever entertaining.
- Clara – It appears that Clara is much more than just infatuated with The Twelfth Doctor. While it’s hard, she comes to terms with the fact that she must deal with this incarnation differently. There’s an instability now that wasn’t there before. A major theme throughout the episode is that The Doctor needs Clara. The episode also shows that Clara still needs The Doctor. She can keep him in check while he can help her grow, mature, and have the confidence to stand up to him. Honestly, the sky is the limit. It’s a great reason to keep watching.
- Matt Smith – Well, that was fast! Ok, all kidding aside, this cameo worked. Hokey? Yeah. Totally necessary? Debatable. But, it works. It gives the Eleventh Doctor closure, and it’s a closure that is fitting to Smith’s incarnation. Understated, funny, optimistic, realistic, and heartfelt. And in canon, his phone call to Clara in Glasgow takes place right before he knows that he will change and sees that Clara is on Trenzalore with him. That’s heavy, and a real testament to what Smith brought to the table.
What Doesn’t Work:
- It was an “eh” story – The storyline for the premiere was okay, but Moffat has certainly done much better. In a way, he tried to fit too much in. I would have been fine with the focus being on the T-Rex personally. The Doctor speaks Dinosaur you know.
- Missy – I don’t hate the character and I’m definitely interested to see where she goes, but what didn’t work for me was when she said that she was the Doctor’s girlfriend. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Oh not again!” I bought that he had a wife in River Song because I really dug the character and thought that her sub-plot flowed within the main story since it was connected to Amy and Rory. Here, I hope that it’s just a ploy. It doesn’t really fit the tone that’s being set.
Despite its flaws, ‘Deep Breath’ was a strong introduction to the new Doctor, thanks in large part to Capaldi’s performance. He ultimately saved the story from being a disaster.