After what has felt like an age, the clock has finally struck twelve (or, to be exact, ten to eight) and Peter Capaldi has arrived to ease the tension between those grieving over Tennant, and those who have absolutely no problem with fish fingers and custard. Does his debut gain a Whovian ‘seal of approval’? Or does it just leave fans in the thick of it?
The episode begins with a dinosaur rampaging along the River Thames (it’s Doctor Who, what exactly were you expecting?). After a little hiccup from the beast, it all boils down to one explanation – a post-regeneration Doctor who’s struggling to come to terms with familiar faces (in this case, Moffat favourites Jenny, Vestra and Strax), the threat of robots in London and, ultimately, himself. Deep.
When these elements all came together, it made for a rather intriguing way to start a reboot. Smith’s debut saw new characters and new challenges; but this episode concentrated on old-time questions about the Doctor’s morality and even the Doctor himself. That was done through a bit of a ‘friend and foe’ antithesis of Clara and the episode’s villain… yeah, about that.
As great as the villain was for mirroring the Doctor’s qualities about ‘piecing yourself together beyond recognition’, he and his cronies could have done with a bit more of a sprinkle. If less of the episode was focused on Moffat’s tendency to put in the ‘Hollywood factor’, then we might have cared a bit more about his pursuit for paradise. Saying that, the episode’s ending could be a nice setup for an overarching story arch.
But enough about the narrative – let’s talk about the Scot. Considering he thought his audition was terrible, I was rather fond of the man. His awkward subtleties and dry wit made him something of a pick ‘n’ mix of the earlier Doctors. That came out not only in his own acting, but in his quirky moments with Clara: “You might as well be flirting with a mountain range” was a personal favourite, putting any theories of him being a womaniser to bed.
Overall, despite not answering all of my questions in its generous 90 minute running time, ‘Deep Breath’ provided me with enough awkward subtleties and dry wit to look forward to next week’s episode, and more of what may be a new-found favourite for fans who just want to punch Matt Smith in the jugular.
Oh, and those new opening credits? I could get used to those!