Season 8, Episode 1: Deep Breath
Oh yes, it bothers me that the title of the brand new episode, the premiere of the excellent new Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi, sounds like the title of a porno. We'll put that aside. It just had to be said.
Though Matt Smith learned to be a loveable Doctor, and clearly made some giant leaps in acting ability as well, he never really felt right to me. In retrospect, I see some of Sylvester McCoy in his wackiness and for that I give him props, hoping that he was indeed, studying the past Doctors and trying to learn from them. Smith's manic hand waving, wringing and hair mussing sometimes drove me crazy. I wanted to go straight to Wales and get the guy some ADD meds. Repetitious hand motions are a dead giveaway. I wonder if the directors ever felt same way?
At last we have a seasoned actor again, and a Scottish one (again) at that. I find it ironic that the BBC made David Tennant, also Scottish, use a London accent. It angered me. What a typical English bullshit put-down of a Scot! And now here comes Capaldi and I don't know if there were any discussions, heated or otherwise, but by golly he gets to speak normally and I'm so pleased. Not only that, but he made the observation that since he's Scottish this time he can complain and blame the English. I'm all for it!
In my rambles around the internet I've encountered many Whovians with varying views on the show. None were more angry than one man I met who was just incensed that the new Doctor had already been on the show before. In his mind, if you've been a character on the show, you can't come back and be a different character. It was "impossible" according to him. He was wound up about this to the point of being a nasty Johnny One Note and I stopped trying to explain how "acting" works after a few minutes and put it behind me.
Then came the Doctor, in his nightgown, going through trash and talking to a bum in an alley. "Have you seen this face before?" he cries. The hobo says he hasn't, and the Doctor says, "It's funny, because I'm sure that I have." "Why this one? Why did I choose this face?....It's like I'm trying to tell myself something." And there it was, an explanation as to why we saw Peter Capaldi in Pompeii before he became the Doctor. I hope that young man was watching and I hope he feels better.
I guess we had to go through Clara's disappointment in the new Doctor's appearance, but it wasn't my favorite part of the show. You could cut the schmaltz with a knife on that phone call with Matt Smith. Why couldn't she have just toughed it out and learned to love our new old codger of a Doctor? I think that would have been much more entertaining. The phone call was part a of a calculation I suspect, to make US accept the Doctor. Furthermore...I think there was a calculation made for the first episode. Which episode did people love a lot? Answer: "The Girl in the Fireplace." If you haven't seen it, go watch it right now. "Deep Breath" makes much more sense if you've seen that one. Next the Who people thought about which characters other than the main ones, do we love to interact with? Answer: Madame Vastra and Jenny. So stick those two together and voilá! The skeleton on which to hang the meat of the new episode.
This is speculation, of course. But I don't think it's too far-fetched to think such a calculation was made.
The half-face robot man drove me crazy for one reason: I kept thinking he looked too much like Nathan Fillion. It wasn't Nathan Fillion, but I kept almost seeing Nathan Fillion.
I'm still somewhat conflicted about the Doctor doing away with the villain. Especially after they have the discussion that proves that the villain is more man than robot at that point. This worries me. I don't want another "Town Called Mercy" thing to be a continuing blot on the Doctor's character. If this Doctor falls back into being an angry Doctor, quick to kill, then all the evolution that occurred during the David Tennant era all goes to nothing. I would rather the Doctor be the "The man who never would" (episode with the Doctor's Daughter), than any other way.
The next episode involves Daleks. So when do we find out about who the heck Missy is?
I still miss Russell T. Davies and his team. There was a complete changing of the guard when the David Tennant era was over (I didn't want you to go, either, David). I don't have a lot of faith in Steven Moffat's ability to create a viable season-long storyline. He failed with Matt Smith, nullifying the entire season with the Town Called Christmas episode. I'm still angry about that. So we will see. I know we have great actors and directors. I hope that Neil Gaiman will write some more episodes for us.
Just one thing to Steven Moffat: please stop with the Geronimo thing. Really.
The new Doctor's outfit: Way cool.
The new TARDIS: I like it, I like it a lot. And it has a bookshelf that I hope to see him use.
Dinosaur goo on the TARDIS: unconvincing and a little too Ghostbusters.
Strax: He had good lines this time, still the idiot, still really funny. The Doctor's first take on Strax was hilarious. Sneezy? Sleepy? Grumpy!
Madame Vastra and Jenny: The writers are fleshing out their relationship more and that's really nice.