Review of Series 8: Episode 1: Doctor Who – Deep Breath

Deep Breath

Steven Moffatt

Spoilers Sweetie – Don’t read if you intend still watching.

Deep Breath” is the first episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One and released in cinemas on 23 August 2014. It was written by showrunner and executive producer Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley.

The Initial Verdict

do itWow! This was an epic episode. It is generally accepted that the regenerations cause havoc, but this doctor takes this latest one to a new end. Clara steps up to the mark adding more depth to her character, being described by the Doctor as “brilliant on adrenaline”.

The Paternoster Gang provided familiar companions to cushion the impact of the TARDIS flying in, literally in a Dinosaur. Mirrors, eyes and reflection were all themes that in retrospect were continued throughout the season.

New FacePeter Capaldi is a fantastic choice of Doctor as his intelligence, intensity and impatience is unusually appealing. He may not be sexy for the same fans that thought of Matt Smith and David Tennant in those terms, but he is appealing in every other way – more than the obvious though, he’s mad, strong, yet fragile in his unpredictability and he’s largely unlikeable, or could it be that he’s difficult to relate to? Whatever it is, he is a compelling choice, and I wait with bated breath to see where he takes us.

© Screen grabs courtesy of the BBC 

© Nicki Ki, All Rights Reserved 

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6 thoughts on “Review of Series 8: Episode 1: Doctor Who – Deep Breath

  1. There were touches in the first episode which sounded like the writers addressing critics of the series, throwaway sentences in the dialogue that were only partially necessary for the narrative and were more to do with the perceptions of Smith and Capaldi as Doctors and the style Moffat adopts as a screenwriter. It added a little to spot them, but also seemed self indulgent. I’ll need to watch it over to document them all.

    3 episodes in now and it is watchable without being memorable or great, but there is time yet for the series to bloom.

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    1. It’s impossible to tell whether its brilliant (or just good) until the whole story is told, and for the current DW format that would be a season’s run… I’m hoping it’s going to be awesome. I’ve enjoyed the episodes so far, not that crazy about this Doctor yet, but I remember it took months for me to warm to Tom Baker – I remember that I stopped watching for a while, I was really upset and then when he went, I was devastated.

      I think these touches you speak of might seem self indulgent in the present (like the Matt Smith Phone Call from the Past – but it was planned for at the end of last season as Clara put the phone’s handset back in it’s cradle), but when you pop a disk in next year, or in a few years time these moments take on a different dimension… for me watching the 50th half a year later was infinitely better than watching it on the day.

      I would love to read your observations when you make them – I’ll keep my eyes peeled 🙂

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  2. The big question for me is why the “old’ Dr. called Clara. It seems to be a shock to him that he is old in his new incarnation. “Do I have wrinkles?” he asks. “Is my hair gray?” If he does not know who he has turned into, how does he know Clara’s objections to his new form and personality? This is the one detail I can’t work out. Well, actually, I also can’t figure out why he left her locked in the chamber she had returned to to pull him out of! True, he gave her clues about how to escape—i.e., to hold her breath—but his cryptic clues are hardly what she needs in this life-or-death situation. True, this is fiction and the writers seek, always, to build suspense, and the Dr.’s weird actions certainly cause a frustration in the viewer that is akin to the frustration that Clara seems to experience, but these actions need to make sense as well.

    I really enjoyed seeing Clara’s disappointment in the new Dr. (One that gives validity to my own feelings.) By the end she seems to be overcoming it, but I must admit I have not. For me, these first three segments have been saved only by the amount they center on Clara. I really do dislike the new Dr. (Thanks be to the powers who be that we can be sure Clara will not regenerate as well.)

    Thanks for your thorough recap of the opening episode. I actually watched it after I saw the second two. It revived my interest in the series. I hated the Daleks one–didn’t even watch the entire episode–just a reflection of my lack of interest in action-adventure, I guess. On the strength of this first episode, I will give the new Dr. a second chance. If Clara’s willing, so am I.—Judy

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    1. Absolutely spot on – I though it was odd that Matt Smith had gone from being a wizened ancient Time Lord to his old self over hundreds of years, I’d have thought by comparison Peter Capaldi’s doctor would have been a spring chicken by comparison. I think it was more of a bridging device to try bring the fans they suspected they’d lose over the older Doctor… I’m not sure it was as great as it potentially will be in a few years time because nostalgia matures like a fine wine. But it all hangs off the Thirteenth Doctor’s story arc which so far is presenting a horrible, selfish, arrogant, moody, sarcastic grump – I don’t like him much – hopefully they’ll try bring him around with a few redeeming touches… which will no doubt be accused of pandering and sentimentality by the crowd of folk that like the new doctor as he is… to me he seems to be a reflection of all the opposite qualities that the previous doctors were criticised of having.

      I don’t know if they’ve considered that what made the show popular was when they moved into more conventional ways of telling stories with empathetic character (which RTD always did so beautifully) and moving “back to the classics” may just send the show back into where it was before it returned. The viewers are leaving the show in droves – going by the figures. Robots of Sherwood, although I enjoyed it for many reasons – and despite getting 8.5 rating on Kasterboros, was panned by so many people. I don’t know why such a strong reaction … maybe it’s because the majority of people think in binary dichotomies (1 and 10, good and bad, fat and thin, short and tall…)

      Thank you so much for stopping by, this is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping to spark. 🙂

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