Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: "Deep Breath"

So... yeah. Series Eight of "Doctor Who" started today.

Peter Capaldi's premier episode was written by Steven Moffatt.

Aaaaaand... reactions that follow are going to be just loaded with spoilers and opinions. I shall endeavor to conceal all the spoilers behind obscuring text (highlight to read), but do keep in mind this doesn't do jack on handhelds, so...

Still there? Let's see if my trick works.

The episode opens with a T-Rex in Victorian London. We get our obligatory disoriented-new-Doctor schtick done by Capaldi and we get our Madam Vastra and the gang. There's a series of spontaneous human combustion events going on instigated by a weird, clockwork man for reasons.

The Doctor, now seeming to take on a rather sinister new personality, goes about his standard, random and chaotic investigations. In the meantime, Clara is having the standard female companion reaction to a new Doctor. She's freaking out. In fairness, the Doctor is giving her some reasons to freak out.

Turns out the clockwork man is a homicidal robot-cyborg-thing using humans as spare parts to build giant balloons and rebuild itself as a human-ish being. For... um... reasons.


So Moffatt tried his best to go for a nice, dark villain. He got somewhere in the neighborhood but the entire episode felt a bit navel-gazing with his references to the "Girl in the Fireplace". The writing seemed too proud of the past reference, leaving the villain feeling a bit flat.

Capaldi and Coleman did great in their roles. The new 12th (13th?) Doctor's incarnation felt a bit choppy, but I credit that to first episode jitters. Capaldi has a lot of promise as an intriguing future Doctor.

Certainly Moffatt gives Capaldi's Doctor a decidedly sinister air. He's got more of a dangerous feel than Hurt's "War Doctor" ever had. And he's certainly willing to take extreme measures.

I can't say I'm warming to Clara. I like Jenna Coleman as an actress and I think the only reason I can stomach the character of Clara at all is due to Coleman giving her some sort of charm, but the 21st Century "version" of Clara has always sort of left me cold. In this episode, she went from sort of a zero to being annoyingly-whiny. To her credit, she didn't consistently stay whiny. There was good bits when the character was convincingly scared.

Still, the episode felt a bit choppy. The ending was vaguely unsatisfying and the Vastra gang inclusion felt like a pandering afterthought.

I did like the TARDIS interior redesign.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the odd character added at the end of the episode.

I guess we'll see how it goes.

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