Otherwise known as the episode with the ending that split the Who fanbase clean down the middle. Spoilers follow, obviously.
Episode four of Capaldi Who (as it shall henceforth be known) managed to be a better horror movie than most modern horror movies. The premise; that we are never truly alone, and that there’s always something hiding in the corner of your eye, is actually taken from a short Doctor Who story written by Moffat a few years back. Unlike that story however, the beastie of the week is left much more to our imagination (to the point that there very well may never have been a monster for the entire episode).
It’s this last reveal that will inevitably disappoint some. Many of us will no doubt have been on the edge of our seats waiting for the jump scare reveal of some ugly space nasty from the end of time, so it’s understandable that some may feel shortchanged by the final reel rug pull – that there was probably never anything there. Of course, no one ever explicitly said there was nothing there (after all, who moved The Doctor’s chalk?).
And naturally, we should get the big divisive “thing” out of the way first. The “thing” in question of course being the scene with a young (like, small kid young) Doctor. Fans who aren’t steeped in 50 years of Who lore might not know that this was in fact one of very, very few glimpses of The Doctor as a kid (possibly the second ever, but I could be wrong).
For some, this spoils the mystery of The Doctor’s character somewhat. Personally, I thought it was done subtly enough, and was a nice tough. It also seems a few people were ruffled by the fact that once again, Clara turns out to have had a seismic impact on his life. It should however, be pointed out that she only told him not to be scared, whereas a lot of people are acting like she wrote “BE THE DOCTOR” in neon lights over his bed. Like I said, it’s a divisive moment. At the end of the day, we got to see a glimpse of a young William Hartnell Doctor, and that’s awesome.
The first thirty minutes or so are terrifying enough to make most parents seriously consider showing it to their kids. The scene in Pink’s bedroom is properly unsettling, and one can’t help but wonder if Moffat decided at the last minute to write in that there was never anything there, just because he realised he might have gone a little too far.
For the most part however, there was a lot to like about this episode. It was brilliantly directed, it was suitably creepy, and it all looked amazing. I probably don’t need to tell you that Peter Capaldi continues to find ways to impress as The Doctor, be he comforting a small child or stealing coffee, he exudes a kind of rude charm. Jenna Coleman also continues to enjoy the transformation of Clara from Plot Device to actual character, and she’s all the better for it.
The date scenes helped elevate the episodes more somber moments, and showed us a little more of Danny (or Rupert) Pink (who is still brilliant). Although, the number of companions the Doctor has accidentally met when they were children is now getting slightly ridiculous. Evidently, Steven Moffat reaaaaallly likes that idea.
This is perhaps, the first episode of Capaldi Who where the 12th Doctor has felt right at home. Dark, brooding, and very scary, with enough laughs to keep us happy. This is the kind of Doctor Who most of us have been expecting from the trailers, and this is the kind of Doctor Who that I for one, want much, much more of.
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.
Well, a big shout out to Steven Moffat for turning me into a crippled emotional husk on Christmas day. As a longtime fan, I’ve always loved regeneration stories. I know the show is all about change (how else would it have made it to 50 years?) and I’m pretty much always ready to see a new Doctor take over and move things forward.
Matt Smith was The Doctor. Without a doubt, from the moment his head popped out of the TARDIS asking a young girl for an apple he has continued to absolutely own the role without faltering. Kind, funny, great dress sense, a pro at physical comedy (he could make walking through a door fascinating viewing) and above all, he had a great rapport with kids.
He was definitely the kids’ Doctor, and please don’t read into that as a dig or a downgrade, because kids are the hardest buggers to please. Capaldi is going to have a serious job winning the nippers over after Matt’s big brother act.
The episode itself tied up issues that have been plaguing me since the end of series 5. Seriously, I thought we’d never find out who blew up the TARDIS. And it turns out Gallifrey is knocking around behind the crack in the wall, back in 2010 I’d never had guessed that. Sadly, a lot of the exposition felt a little rushed and The Christmas element really did feel shoehorned in. Just be bold and ignore the fact it’s Christmas day. No one will care, because Doctor Who is on an that’s enough.
Still, the scenes with Clara’s family were sweet (and no sign of those bloody kids) and watching The Doctor pretend to be her boyfriend really made me realise how much unused potential the pair have.
There were, fittingly for 11’s last stand, a horde of aliens and nasties from all over. Some of them didn’t get much to do (like The Weeping Angels) and anytime The Daleks are involved it’s pretty much a given that they’re coming out on top. But it wasn’t about them, it was about Smith and all they needed to do was provide a fitting backdrop to his swansong.
The idea of The Doctor sticking around for centuries to protect a small town is nice. I’m glad the TARDIS was out of the equation for the first few centuries though, or I’d never believe in a million years that he would’ve stayed. 11 essentially got to enjoy some kind of retirement, even if he did have to fight off the odd wooden cyberman every now and then.
And then the end. Bloody hell. A rule that has been hampering Doctor Who is finally bloody gone. The Doctor can now regenerate another 13 times, so every Tabloid writer or smug so and so that comes up to me gleefully informing me that “Doctor Who has to end soon” can go into hibernation for at least another half century.
Matt Smith doesn’t go lying down, or in a self referential drawn out mess of goodbyes (cough, Tennant, cough). He explodes with energy, taking out as many Daleks with him as he can (and it’s a lot).
While it would have been nice for Clara to come running into the TARDIS, only to find a new man, it’s only fitting that Matt gets a proper goodybe. Young, as we remember him. What a doozy it is too, anyone that wasn’t a blubbering husk by the time the bow tie is on the floor, or by the time that cameo came about is a cold hearted fiend.
Then, without warning, or a glow of light, 11 is gone. It’s as if Matt sneezed himself into Capaldi. In thirty seconds I was already convinced by him, although conflicted. Because, to paraphrase the eleventh Doctor’s final words; I will always remember when The Doctor was Matt Smith.
When it was announced that Matt Smith would be leaving Doctor Who a few months back, I was wary. Smith has been an effortlessly charismatic and entertaining Doctor, always a joy to watch and for my money, stolen every scene he’s been in from the moment he climbed out of the TARDIS and asked a young Amy Pond for an apple.
So how was I supposed to forget the man who made me forget David Tennant? Easy. You cast Peter Capaldi.
The moment he came strutting out on Sunday I was literally punching the air, my dad cheered so hard that my baby sister thought something was wrong and proceeded to cry.
Peter Capaldi is someone who I didn’t even realise I wanted to be The Doctor until he was stood there, twiddling his lapels Hartnell style and beaming away at the rapturous applause. Matt who?
90% of my Facebook feed seemed to agree. Sure, there were some who are obviously only pleased because they think Malcolm Tucker is going to be taking the keys to the TARDIS and throwing f bombs at the Cybermen but for the most part people really seemed to be on board with it.
But the law of the internet does state that if you have a ridiculous and pointless opinion you must state it in a way that is as loud and belligerent as possible, starting with “but he’s too old”.
I really need someone who thinks this to explain to me their logic. What does “too old” mean? William Hartnell (The First Doctor) was 55 when he took on the role. It seems to me a canny choice that after Matt Smith (the youngest actor to play the part) they cast someone who is now the joint oldest Doctor.
The concept of Regeneration is to breathe new life into the show, the changes should be radical quite frankly. Can you imagine watching some unknown young actor simply doing a bad cover of Matt Smith?
Besides that, the character of the Doctor is pushing 1200 now I think. 55 is a positively spry age to be taking on a role like that.
I won’t even waste much breath on the folk who have complained that 12 is not attractive. To judge someone based solely on looks is disgusting enough as it is and if the casting of Capaldi weeds out the shallow few who only watched because they fancied Tennant and Smith, that is fine with me.
If you don’t think Peter Capaldi will blow everyone away as the 12th Doctor, go and watch him in The Thick of it. Granted, his Doctor won’t be very much like Malcolm Tucker at all but you get a sense of his immense energy, madness and downright capacity to be terrifying. If you think he hasn’t got the emotional chops, check him out in Torchwood: Children of Earth.
And even if after all that, you aren’t convinced, you can just sit out Doctor Who until they cast some good looking young bloke again. You’ll just be missing out on what I am already convinced are going to be some of the shows best years.