Don’t look in that mirror, it’s furious.
There’s one question that needs to be gotten out of the way first of all, and it’s a question no one should ever have actually asked. Is Peter Capaldi any good as the 12th Doctor? Of course he is. He’s Peter f***king Capaldi. Let’s move on.
Actually, let’s not. That wouldn’t make for a very detailed review. Let’s talk about how he handles the lighter, funny moments with a wide eyed charm that puts Tom Baker and David Tennant to shame. Let’s talk about how when you’re watching him ride through foggy London town on a horse in his nightgown, you forget that he’s a man in his mid 50s, and absolutely believe he was Matt Smith a few hours ago. Let’s talk about how Capaldi, with his attack eyebrows and frown lines has created a Doctor who has the potential to be the darkest and most unsettling yet, going by the unclear way things ended in this episode.
So Capaldi is the tits. We knew that though. The episode itself is pretty great too, with echoes of Robot, Tom Bakers first outing as the Doctor. To help ease us in to perhaps the most radical change in time lords yet, we’re given the ever reliable Jenny, Vastra and Strax to fall back on for comfort. They seem to show up at the times when we’re wondering if this is really The Doctor, to remind us that yes, it is. They’re also immensely entertaining and likeable, as always, with Strax knocking Clara out with a copy of the Times being a highlight (I really want a spinoff).
The story begins as it means to go on, with a T Rex spitting out the TARDIS. These deranged, yet beautiful visuals continue, as the same dinosaur lights up London as she spontaneously combusts, half faced men lurk in the lamplight, and restaurants take flight over the city as balloons pop out of the roof. It’s like a steampunk UP, with more human skin and organ harvesting, and less rubber balloons and talking dogs.
The monster of the week in fact, is probably this episodes only weak link. It’s basically cut and paste from a previous Tennant story, and vague allusions from The Doctor to the fact that he swears he’s seen all this somewhere before doesn’t excuse the fact Moffat’s basically just self plagiarised.
Probably the highlight of the entire episode, maybe more so than The Doctor himself, is Jenna Coleman’s Clara. Here, she gets more character development in one hour than she had in a year. The fact Clara was a companion for half a season and two specials, and we’ve only just now seen her angry, is a testament to the woeful character development she suffered in season 7. The scene in the restaurant with her and The Doctor (their first proper scene alone together where no one’s fainting or crashing) is a joy to watch. This could be the best Doctor/companion pairing since Ten and Rose, and we can only hope the rumours of Coleman’s departure are untrue, because she could be one of the greats.
So that’s that… Deep Breath has begun easing us in to what looks to be a much slower, considered, and meatier Doctor Who than what we’ve had for the past few years. With a brilliant, angry, (Scottish!) new Doctor and a fantastic companion rife with unexplored potential at the helm, it’s safe to assume it’s gonna be a whopper.
Dig those new titles too. Very timey. Such wimey.