Doctor Who 8.01 Review: Deep Breath

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Last night was a big one for all the Whovians around the world as Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor was finally unleashed completely in his first full Doctor Who episode.

It was a lot different for this Whovian to view the first episode of a new doctor because this time it was my first time being able to watch it live as I started watching Doctor Who last year when Series 7 was over. Not knowing anything that was coming, it made the experience a bit more special for me.

Only a show like this one can open with a gigantic dinosaur walking around in Victorian London and there we meet fan favorites, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax, also known as the Paternoster Gang. It was a great decision to bring these three back for the series premiere of the next Doctor. Even though we already had Clara there, it doesn’t hurt to haves something familiar from previous seasons.

The thing that always moves me is the beautiful relationship between Vastra and Jenny because even though one of them is a human while the other one isn’t, they still fell in love with each other and now they are married. I sure hope that Moffat will have these characters being present a lot more this season.

Capaldi’s Doctor is someone I still need to get used to because this one is so much different from David Tennant’s 10th and Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor in terms of tone. Maybe it’s too early to judge, but the impression that he left me was that he is going to be a much sassier and perhaps stricter Doctor than the previous ones we have seen in the rebooted series.

That is something that we don’t mind, but maybe it’s because I got introduced to him at a time with other viewers at the same time rather than catching up on the series through many DVDs. The theme that was poking out a lot throughout his first episode was identity crisis because this seems to be the first time (at least in the rebooted series) that he has questioned why his body regenerated into this specific one. Even though the Half-Face man – along with his human cyborgs – were an intriguing villain for this episode, it was more interesting to follow the 12th Doctor’s first day and having so many internal issues to deal with.

His relationship with Clara was also a huge factor in “Deep Breath” and even though we have already gotten used to Clara in over 10 episodes, I feel this episode was an opportunity where we got to know her a lot better. It became a lot clearer how she looked at the Doctor as a person and how she was handling this new change because this was the first time she had to witness a regenerated Doctor.

The thing that is so unusual for the rebooted series is that this is the first time we have had an older actor portray the role and I have said since day 1 when Capaldi was announced as the next Doctor that it was a strong move by the show to do so. This episode is a great example of why that decision was so wise. It (ironically) gives the show a fresh layer despite the age. It was confusing at first when he wasn’t sure of who the people around him was and what was going on, but I suppose this was his way of adjusting to the after effects of the regeneration.

It’s going to be very exciting to follow the development of the 12th and Capaldi is a phenomenal actor so I know he is going to bring something very special to the TARDIS, just like every other actor before him has. Two of my favorite moments of him were when he revealed himself to be behind Clara when the Half-Face man was trying to get answers out of her. That speech was so well written and it kind of established to us Whovians what kind of Doctor we are going to get.

My other one was and this is where the episode made me very emotional and that was when the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) called Clara from his last moments in Trenzalore and asked her to help the Doctor adjusting to his new body. There were rumors a few months ago that this was going to happen in the Series 8 premiere, but I choose not to believe them because in a way, it would take away a bit from Smith’s departure in the Christmas Special.

Even though it happened, it luckily didn’t have that affect as it actually made his final episode a lot stronger, knowing that he knew that Clara was going to have problems accepting this new Doctor and therefore, made that phone call. When the 12th in a humble way asked if she would accept his request, that’s when I felt that he was starting to settle in at last.

Smith’s amazing appearance broke the traditional format a bit because previously, when the Doctor gets a new face, the previous actor to play the role doesn’t show up at all. But by having the 11th giving the 12th a helping hand from the past: it made this new introduction to the new Doctor a lot more unique.

The final scene with the mysterious Missy character and the whole “Heaven” aspect which from the looks of it, will be a continuing arc for this series, was unexpected to me. It was intriguing to see that the whole Promiseland that the Half-Face man was striving for did in fact exist as far as we know.

“Deep Breath” was a phenomenal series premiere and it’s going to be a joy to follow Capaldi’s new journey as the Doctor as Whovians everywhere will get to follow him on that journey.

Doctor Who airs Saturday nights, 8 PM on BBC America. 

[Photo via BBC]

Andy has contributed to sites such as KSiteTV, Across the Airwaves, and It's Just Movies. He has always had a big passion for writing. Follow him on Twitter @AndyBehbakht
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