Saturday, August 30, 2014

Doctor Who--"Deep Breath"

“Deep Breath” is the first episode of the eighth series.  It also serves as the first full appearance of Peter capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor.  Capaldi had a cameo in the previous two episodes.  Both appearances were a stark contrast to one another.  In the first, he joined in the effort to save Gallifrey from the Daleks.  We saw only his wild eyes at the time.  No joke, there.  He looked insane.  Capaldi’s next appearance was his regeneration sequence.  It was played for laughs so as not to take away from Matt Smith’s emotional departure.
So which one is the Twelfth doctor most like?  It beats me.  As post-regeneration episodes go, “Deep Breath” is especially manic.  The Twelfth doctor is as unpleasantly weird in his introduction as the sixth doctor was an obnoxious jerk in his.  But at least the Twelfth did not attempt to strangle Clara like poor Peri.  The Twelfth only seemed to abandon her for a time.  But that is enough to nearly destroy the trust between the two.  The trust is already fragile because of his regeneration into an older, stranger Doctor than Clara knew.
I imagine many fans are going to empathize.  There have been a lot of jokes floating around about fan girls leaving the show in droves because they can no longer swoon over David Tennant or Smith.  Did anyone ever swoon over Christopher Eccleston other than Eccleston himself?  I have doubts, but we shall just go with it for the sake of argument.  Now the doctor is some old guy.  Indeed, Capaldi is clearly going to play the character as more alien.  Probably as less of a ladies man with his companions, as well.  In other words, more like the original era Doctors.  It is something we have not seen in the current show.  I an old school fan, so I am interested.  But I am curious how the new generation of fans will react.  Changes come fast when fans are upset.  Recall Freema Agyeman’s short tenure and the disappearance of the Rainbow Daleks.
I have hinted above that while I am cautiously optimistic the Twelfth doctor will be a throwback to the original show, “Deep Breath” is not promising.  For now, I am going to chalk the problem up to regeneration episodes generally being weak.  The doctor is always a little screwy right after changing.  I am going to give Capaldi a chance to impress me with his interpretation.  I hope he does not let me down.
 It does not help that “Deep Breath” is a weak story.  We have seen much of it before.  Clockwork aliens are in Earth’s past stealing organic body parts in order to repair their ship.  After fumbling about confused most of the episode, the Doctor saves his campanions from becoming part of the ship.  In this case, the companions are Clara, Vastra, Jenny, and Strax.   So the episode is a bit crowded, too.  The series villain is introduced at the very end.  It is a woman on the Paradise Planet from “The Girl Who Waited.”  Brace yourselves for a new round of speculation the woman is the Rani.
There are a few good points to “Deep Breath.”  The CGI dinosaur the TARDIS accidentally brings to Victorian England is impressive, though Londoners seem a little two blasé about the whole thing.  They must be terribly jaded by this point.  The Eleventh Doctor cameo that creatively convinces Clara to forgive her mistrust in the new doctor is cleverly done.  It is a nice touch, too.  Jenna Coleman is still hot.  That is always a selling point.  But there is nothing special about “Deep Breath.“  The Twelfth Doctor has not come out the gate running, but I am still curious to see more.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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