Doctor Who Review: Series 8 - Episode 1 - Deep Breath
NOTE: This review contains spoilers for the first episode of Series 8 - Deep Breath.
Deep Breath is one of the 12 most important episodes in the history of the show. Not only does it open a new series, but it also acts as the introduction to the new master of the TARDIS. Peter Capaldi is here. The episode is based around Clockwork Droids who seem to be invading Victorian London. They are reminiscent of The Girl In The Fireplace, where we saw similar Droids, and this episode also features nod's back to the episode. It also begins to introduce us to the new relationship between Clara and The Doctor.
I was expecting big things from Deep Breath. VERY big things. Maybe I set my hopes too high, or maybe it just wasn't polished enough, but for me it was a little disappointing. It wasn't that it was bad. It wasn't by any stretch of the imagination. I just wonder if having a feature length episode was a good idea. The story was good, but it felt as though it dragged on for too long, with some bits seemingly unnecessary; but the things that were done well, were done very well indeed.
Something that struck me early on was that there is still an element of comedy in this series. But this time, it isn't just slapstick, it's actually quite clever comedy that has obviously had a lot of thought put into it. Something else that was great to see was Clara getting some properly funny lines and Jenna Coleman getting a chance to really shine and show off how big a range she has as an actress. I wonder if Clara has more subtly funny lines to compensate for the darkness and maturity of the episodes, if you only look deeper. We saw the Doctor murder someone and refer to it as such. He didn't just brush it away with a moody look or an "Oh well, I saved everyone else!" that is something that has been missed for a long time now, and something that (fingers crossed) has returned as we travel "Into Darkness".
As I write this, I'm still having mixed feelings about whether or not I like the way we've (so far) been introduced to the new incarnation of the Doctor. On one hand its still early days, but even so we had 75 minutes and I feel like Clara...I don't know "Who the Doctor is any more" he seems some-what unpredictable and I don't quite know whether I like that or not.
I wish the Droids had been done in a better way. They were so scary last time, and they were one of the best new monsters that came out of the 10th Doctor's era I think, but this episode kind of ruined them. The fact that they can be avoided by taking a "Deep Breath" and holding it, is stupid and doesn't actually make a whole lot of sense, but they seem to have been pushed to the back a bit in the episode anyway. That isn't the only thing I was irritated with either. I'm getting really sick of two things from recent Doctor Who: Steven Moffat's fascination with Dinosaurs and Vastra, Strax and Jenny. To elaborate on my second point; I feel they were used in a much better way in this episode, adding to the maturity with the obvious lesbian tie between Jenny and Vastra, and Strax, as always, got a few giggles out of me - but the fact that using them in a plot means we are limited to Victorian London means that it's an extremely over-used place in time now, and somewhere I would be hesitant to revisit again to soon.
Quickly, I thought I should mention that I thought the CGI and lighting in the opening scenes was diabolical, and that's not something I thought I would ever say about Doctor Who. Luckily it seemed to get better as the episode went on.