Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 1: Deep Breath
I watched Deep Breath, the Series 8 premiere of Doctor Who on BBC America Saturday. As I try to recall, this is one of the single most anticipated media events of my life. Capaldi is the Doctor I’ve been waiting for since the series started up again in 2005. Speaking as a long-time fan of Classic Who, to me the younger Doctors were fun for a while. Tennant was amazing, as one would expect from The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet. I’ve just often found that DW has been missing a bit of grump and tetchiness that the Doctor had in the old days. Eccleston had that, but didn’t stick around long enough. Smith did a lot of bouncing around like Tigger, and his anger came off a bit more like tantrums. Capaldi brings the grumpy, aloof, very alien Doctor in spades.
Of course, this was only the first episode. The Doctor has an established reputation for being decidedly out of sorts following a regeneration. But I’m hoping that 12 will continue to be a bit cantankerous, causing his and Clara’s relationship to evolve along different lines. I prefer the Doctor to be in charge, the smartest person in the room, and not crushing on his companions.
The first episode was fun, with the return of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax–the latter providing some comic relief. I thought the episode forded the Smith-Capaldi chasm nicely, and gave us a nice fade out on the 11th Doctor. Especially touching was the unexpected phone call from 11 at the end, pleading with Clara to help 12 figure out who he is. It was a nice send-off and blended well with the episode.
The writing was some of Moffat’s best since the Russell T. Davies days. I adored the return of the clockwork automatons, which incorporated aspects simultaneously more primitive–their inner framework and gear works, and more advanced–using human skin and parts on themselves.
I’m looking forward to the rest of Series 8 with eager anticipation, and I hope Capaldi winds up busting Tom Baker’s record on the series.
If you’re new to Who, here are a few episodes to provide background for this episode, all available on Netflix streaming:
- Series 2, Episode 5 The Girl in the Fireplace – Gives background on the clockwork automatons
- Series 5, Episode 9 Cold Blood – Gives background on the Silurians (Madame Vastra’s race)
- Series 7, Episode 6 The Snowmen – Gives background on Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, as well as Clara