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Doctor Who - Deep Breath Review

Doctor Who - Deep Breath Review

Scified2014-09-09 04:22:37
1,189 Reads0 CommentsAdd A Comment

So this weekend saw Peter Capaldi's first adventure as the new face of The Doctor.I have left it the customary few days before looking at the episode for review to allow people enough time to have seen the first instalment of season 8.Following the Screen Junkies spoiler code of conduct, it has been largely agreed that after a couple of days for a TV show and a week or so for a film no spoiler warnings really need to be made apparent, since by the time a review adhering to that code is published, everyone who truly gives a crap about the episode/film should have seen it within that grace period.So if you have not seen Deep Breath by now, why not? It is on BBC iPlayer!
So time to look at this latest Doctor and see how Capaldi's inaugural run out rated against two of my favourite adventures.Throughout season 8 I will be watching each episode and rating them on the McCoy & Smith Curve (2014).Anyone just coming to the site who is unfamiliar with what the hell a McCoy & Smith Curve is and what that has to do with rating anything should check out some of the film reviews and become acquainted with the Affleck Curve (2014). You see rather than rating things out of 10 or with stars we rate on a Curve basis, comparing the episode/film to our favourite and least favourite of a show/genre etc. Therefore all films are rated against Ben Affleck's performance in Phantoms and Gigli, so with season 8 of Dr Who each episode will be rated against my favourite and least favourite of the time lord's escapades.
So Geronimo! 
Season 8 episode 1: Deep Breath sees Peter Capaldi (star of  the multi award winning The Thick of It) have the unenviable task of helming the T.A.R.D.I.S. following on from Matt Smith, who really did leave a serious legacy.


However is taking over from Matt Smith any more daunting for Capaldi than when Smith had to step into fill David Tennant's Converse?

David truly did ensure The Doctor became more than just a character in a British TV show and gave the show a charisma that blew it up into a global phenomenon.So when Tennant regenerated into Matt Smith producers were probably quiet rightly a bit nervous as to how fans would take to Smith's chin.However with some amazing writing, a superb supporting cast and boundless energy, Smith knocked it out of the cosmos!His Doctor had all the energy of a young face and all the wisdom of an old soul.So know with season 8 once more the Doctor's new face is an older one.An entire generation of fans have only grown up with younger actors in the role, so Capaldi's task is greater than that of Smith's.As the series develops and the over riding story arc unravels only then we we truly be able to really get an idea of the 12th Doctor and whether or not Capaldi will be near the top of fans "favourite Doctors" lists.
Deep Breath didn't take too many chances with the introduction of Capaldi, with a well liked returning companion (Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald) and three of the shows favourite supporting characters (Madame Vastra, Strax and Jenny Flint all firm favourites during Smiths years) the 12th Doctor was in fine company.Yet the episode really did fail from the start to deliver anything like the opening to "The Eleventh Hour".I have always been a firm believer in one simple rule, if you can not match Jurassic Park's CGI Dinosaurs... just do not have Dinosaurs.Think of another way to open the episode rather than just CGI for the sake of CGI. Having a big Dinosaur special effect does not make up for a lack of awe in the writing.The Dinosaur was a completely pointless gimmick to say 
..."hey look how big we are going with season 8!"
The Dinosaur served no real purpose and the attempt at generating some comedic relief from it regurgitating the T.A.R.D.I.S., fell flat in my opinion. The Doctor's ability to speak Dinosaur tried to capture the whimsicalness of Smith being able to talk Baby, but again just failed, seeming truly like filler.When a show launches for a new season, with essentially a feature length episode, it really needs to warrant the longer run time by being a truly rounded large scale adventure.Deep Breath, in that sense, felt like a solid normal episode, what with the Half-Face Man core plot, with the Dinosaur element feeling like the shows producers had bolted on half an episode that didn't make the cut.
 So Deep Breath for me started a lot lower on the curve but slowly after the Dinosaur was removed and the true episodes adventure began it worked its way up and up.
The Doctor obviously will not be a bouncing around and hyper active like Smith, it would look daft for a man of Capaldi's age to be running around like a teenager on six cans of Monster and full of blue Smarties.However that is not say Capaldi has to creek around the place salvaging Cybermen for spare hips.The right balance has largely been found, there were some pratfalls, and again with them largely missing the mark I think goofy slapstick humour will filter out of the show.
The writers played on Capaldi's age to give the Doctor's post regeneration confusion a dementia feel to it and there was definitely a sub text surrounding themes of age and time catching up on you.  Capaldi is a great actor and his wild eyes and almost Hammer Horror look lends itself perfectly to the character, after all the Doctor is a mad man with a box. Aside from the mad scientist traits, Capaldi's time lord does have an edge over previous modern portrayals, since he doesn't look trustworthy. When Smith says "the Doctor lies" his talent makes you believe he is capable of anything even with his cheeky chappy face, Capaldi on the other hand does not need any help convincing the audience he could lie, cheat and kill.This is what will make his interpretation so engaging, we are not watching someone try to replicate Matt Smith or David Tennant, we are getting a Doctor in the vein of Colin Baker.I must say I highly rate Capaldi's performance so far, even though it is one episode, when he gets to be the Doctor he wants to be he is so gripping to watch, intense, deep in thought and although grouchy and abrasive he has a charm. So hopefully no more silly humour and more of him doing what he does best.
We do not yet know what kind of a man the extra regeneration has created. Although the past few series Tennant and Smith both had dark secrets, that were exposed last year with the "War Doctor".Throughout their runs in the show they were confronted by countless moral dilemmas, running from their pasts and finally being confronted with just how much death and destruction the Doctor had caused.It was an issue of justification, how far should a good man go when a good man goes to war and still be a good man?We will definitely see just how far a good man will go with Capaldi, and based on the end of Deep Breath I am not so sure the 12th Doctor will be weighed down by the sins of his past. I know that the Gallifrey guilt has been largely resolved, however since the day the 4th chose not to commit to the genocide of even his most bitter enemy, the Doctor has changed and decided that the extinction of certain races may be a necessary evil.He has been at war a very long time and still is really the "War Doctor" in comparison to the nature of the last Doctor to have a BBC run, before the long break, Sylvester McCoy.I can not see Peter Capaldi offering to save Davros, rising above primal urges to spare The Master or pausing to contemplate the ethical stance and ramifications such as at the end of "Genesis of the Daleks".This makes for a very interesting Doctor, one that will keep you guessing and always on the edge of your seat.The show's producers have also made sure that Capaldi is able to bring certain, restrained, elements of Malcolm Tucker to the role with some humour thrown in based on Capaldi's Scottishness and abrasive persona.
The episode itself, Dinosaur bolt on aside, was solid.The plot and tension was an attempt to generate a similar sense of dread that was achieved so well with "Blink" and the two parter "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone".Not being able to blink, a basic human reflex, made for the scariest villains in the new line up, with the Weeping Angels quickly cementing themselves as iconic Who enemies.However this time the tension of not being able to take a breath was less of a threat, not so much because of the concept but the enemies themselves.The clockwork droids of the SS Marie Antoinette were not on par with the Weeping Angels and had it not been for a very good performance from Peter Ferdinando they would be largely forgettable.The ship had crashed on Earth during prehistoric times and the Clockwork droids had been repairing themselves with organic materials.If the ships name and clockwork droids seem familiar it is because the SS Marie Antoinette is actually from the 51st Century and is the sister ship of the SS Madame de Pompadour from the David Tennant adventure "The Girl in the Fireplace".In that episode the clockwork menace was creepy as anything else on the show, yet this time they seem to pose little threat or deliver any nightmare worthy images.
Overall the episode is a very good start to a very difficult new series, it is weighed down by the Dinosaur, as I have mentioned.Strax continues to be one of the joys of the show and having some continuity with Tennant's Doctor suggests that we can expect plenty of nods throughout season 8.
So now to the first rating on the McCoy & Smith Curve (2014)...

Not bad, not bad at all for the new Doctor's first time out.Thanks for reading, anything you noticed, liked, hated or thought about the start of a new incumbents reign pop a comment below.
Check out the Top 11 Doctors list here...





Written by Beyond The Box OfficePublished on 2014-09-09 04:22:37
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