Doctor Who Deep Breath Review

In this article Owain Carbis reviews Peter Capaldi’s first episode as the Doctor. This article may contain major spoilers for readers who have not yet watched the episode. No spoilers contained are from the leaked episodes or scripts.

On the 23rd pf August at 7:50 Peter Capaldi graced our screen for the first time as the Doctor in Deep Breath. The episode was aired on BBC 1 and in cinemas all around the UK. Starring alongside Capaldi was Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint), Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra) and Dan Starkey (Strax).

The Doctor and Clara

Considering it is a regeneration and a debut episode it is important to address the man himself the Doctor. Capaldi’s interpretation of the Doctor was fantastic. Especially at the start of the episode and in the tramp scene it was great to see how he contrasted his voice and facial expressions. He was able to change his character triumphantly between serious scenes to a comedic scene (especially when Strax is involved).

Clara’s character as excelled greatly since she appeared in The Bells of Saint John. A crucial scene when the Doctor leaves her trapped in a spaceship with the clockwork droids and the half faced man. This scene also shows a glimpse of Capaldi’s Doctor but mainly the difference in their relationship which is addressed by Madame Vastra whilst talking to Clara. Clara is forced to think independently and quickly of a way to keep her alive. Although this might seem like the Doctor’s arrogance to leave her to die and save himself, it does suggest his faith in Clara and her intelligence to cope without him which we will see more of during the series. Ben Wheatley directed the scene of Clara holding her breath brilliantly and made it an iconic scene to relate to the title “Deep Breath”. In this scene we see more of Clara as a teacher in Coal Hill School, where we first saw her being a teacher at the start of the 50th Anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor. Using her own experiences of her school life it gives her the courage to test the half faced man and prevent from telling him the Doctor’s location.

The half faced man & the plot

In this feature length episode the villain gets a considerable amount more screen time that previous enemies in series 7B e.g. It was a great nod to The Girl in the Fireplace to use the Clockwork Robots although less advanced but still as deadly. This was seen as a nice treat to the die-hard fans of the programme, but for new viewers who are attracted to the programme they would not understand this reference. Whereas in previous first episodes it feels like a fresh start especially Mat Smith’s, The Eleventh Hour which saw a new Doctor, new Companion and a new Tardis.. This helped many new fans have a greater understanding and insight into what Doctor Who is all about.

At the beginning of the episode the monster seemed very mysterious lurking in the shadows of a grim Victorian London. Whereas at the end of the episode his threat seemed less and not as frightening. This isn’t of course the villain’s fault but the script. The story line does seem re-used by Steven Moffat in The Girl in the Fireplace. Although I believe it was only a reference whilst watching there was a tremendous amount of similarities between both of the stories especially using body parts to build a spaceship. This may remind you of when Mickey found a human eye and Rose found a human heart powering the spaceship.

On the whole the plot was a recycled idea and not original. The script was focused on the Doctor’s character and building arks such as Heaven with Missy who’s supposedly the Doctor’s girlfriend and questions about his character for the series ahead. Although it is an exciting prospect not knowing who the doctor really is and what he is capable of doing, such as John Hurt exploding Gallifrey.

“I don’t think I know who the Doctor is anymore.”

The Cameo’s

Of course there’s one that stand out but first I’s like to address the heart-warming cameo of the late Elisabeth Sladen’s husband Brian Miller. It was great to see although Doctor Who is entering a new era they can still remember and address the past. In this scene where Brian is acting as a tramp we see the mysterious question,

“Who frowned me this face?”

This seems like the Time Lords or the Doctor have purposely chosen that body for the Doctor which might later on be the purpose of Capaldi’s previous roles in Doctor Who.

Michelle Gomez was cast and seen filming the series finale with the Cybermen but it was a surprise to see her at the end of the episode. She referred to the place firstly as paradise and then shortly after as heaven whereas throughout the episode the half faced man called it the Promised Land.

The most surprising cameo of all was Matt Smith’s phone call to Clara. This was a great farewell to Matt and yet a great introduction to Peter Capaldi . In my opinion this was far more emotional send off for Matt than TTOTD. Although Moffat’s intentions was fore fans who felt similar to Clara about letting go of Matt Smith it did seem to take away the point of the episode which was a fresh start for a new Doctor.

On the whole…

It was a good episode but not great. I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of the Doctor and can’t wait to see more of him. The plot lacked originality and ingenuity. Although the dinosaur was fun entertainment it wasn’t entirely needed in the story and was only there to show how long the existence of the Clockwork droids had been on Earth. After seeing the next time trailer I’m sure the series will improve but this episode does raise a question, is it time for a new show runner. Steven Moffat has had a good run, writing a brilliant anniversary episode and introduced a whole different take on the show and had an extremely successful job of creating the 11th Doctor which is now one of the most loved Doctors of all time.

Feel free to write your thoughts and theories in the comments below. Doctor Who continues this Saturday with Into the Dalek on BBC One.



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