Dr.Who Episode 1 - "Deep Breath"
“Well, here we go again”
Madame Vastra echoes the immortal words of the Brigadier from the end of Planet of the Spiders, as Pertwee gave way to Baker. It just happens that she also echoed my words as I prepared for the adventures of a new Doctor, one that I had some trepidation about embarking on. Turns out I needn’t have worried unduly, Capaldi’s full debut was pretty damn good. Eventually.
I say “eventually”, because there was something of a shaky start. The role of the companion has traditionally been to play the audience surrogate, to ask the questions that the viewers want answered. Too often during the opening 15 minutes, it felt that Vastra’s insistence that this Doctor was still the one Clara knew was infact an effort by the writers to reassure Matt Smith fans that, actually, an older man can play the Doctor too. Yes, there should be some getting used to a new Doctor from an established companion, but this felt a little patronising. Luckily, it didn’t last long, and is pretty much the only complaint I have.
The untimely demise of a time traveling dinosaur, and a mysterious dinner invitation for the Impossible Girl, finally bring Clara and the Doctor together; and from that point on the episode is excellent. Genuinely tense, in much the same way that “Blink” was (and for similar reasons, the title should be a clue). There’s a huge call back to an episode from Season 2, one that I struggled to spot immediately but when the penny dropped it was delightful!
Capaldi gets the chance to stamp his mark on the role, and he did in his own way. Matt Smith had “Fish Finger & Custard” as the moment when the zany, Troughton-esque, nature of his Doctor was established; with the rest of his tenure having that same playful energy. Capldi’s moment might well turn out be the offer of a scotch to the enemy of the piece, and the realisation he has that accompanied it. For now he is a darker, more mysterious Doctor that perhaps hasn’t fully defined who he is yet. I’m ok with that, watching him develop the character over the series will be fun.
Whilst trying to discover who he is he makes reference to a certain, ridiculously long, scarf. There is also a vague nod of the head towards a certain Roman sculptor, as the Doctor struggles to remember where he recognises his face from. Is this for a plot reason, or just to silence the snarks who will hark back to “Fires of Pompeii”. I hope it’s for a plot reason. Romana showed that timelords can chose their form at regeneration, maybe the Doctor’s subconscious is trying to tell him something.
Overall, this was a promising start to the new Doctor’s tenure. Perhaps not up to the frenetic pace we’ve been used to over the last three seasons, but definitely capable of taking the series in new directions. The mystery that ends the episode is great, it jumps straight into setting up what one must assume is the major plot of this season. It will also have fans busy coming up with their own theories as to the identity of the woman at the centre of it. I have my own ideas and I will be watching every week to see if I’m right.
Plus, those eyebrows!!
(P.S. There is a lovely surprise in the episode as well, enjoy it)
Quote of the Week: “Nothing is more important than my egomania!”