Doctor Who series 8 premiered this weekend, with the episode “Deep Breath.” It’s Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, coming off of his regeneration. And I came in to it conflicted excitement for Capaldi, but also concerned with the story.
We’re in Victorian London, where Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax are, and there’s a T-Rex wandering the Thames. It spits out a TARDIS, and out stumbles the 12th Doctor.
There’s some creepy stuff, some funny stuff, some nice twists, and some emotional stuff, such is expected of Doctor Who. The episode started off iffy for me, I think cause I liked the fan made opening sequence much more than what we actually got, even the theme feels off… But as the show progressed, I couldn’t help but think that this was a back door pilot for Vastra and her lot. There was a lot of time devoted to them and Clara, much like how it was in “The Christmas Invasion,” Tennant spent most of the episode in bed and not in the episode, but with “Deep Breath” it was more focused on Vastra, Jenny and Strax. I guess time will tell.
I tend to think of the first episode with a new Doctor as a refresher, sure we get a companion that carries over (Rose, Sarah Jane), but there’s a sense of a “soft reboot.” This episode starts off with not just one ally, but four, and then you get a villain from a previous series. But why reference “Girl in the Fireplace?” I’m not sure it adds anything here, especially the way it plays out. There’s just a lot connecting this episode to previous stuff, really would’ve liked more stand-aloney qualities. There were just a lot of connections than I was used to.
But if it wasn’t for the last scene (before the tag) with Matt Smith, I would’ve been sorta done. That phone call just brought it home, dealing with the emotions and ramifications of a regeneration for a companion, who’s essentially us the viewer, because we get used to “our Doctor” and then he goes and changes. Such is the nature of this show, and if you don’t get that, then you’re not a true fan.
So in a way this episode did everything a regeneration episode is supposed to do, but done backwards. I do like that Capaldi got out of Smith’s costume rather quickly.