When I found out that Deep Breath, the premier episode of Doctor Who, Season 8 would be showing in theaters, I was over the moon. The only bad thing was that for whatever reason (long-delayed British revenge for the Boston Tea Party?) it wasn’t screened until a full 48 hours after it had been shown in Britain. So I did my best to stay off social media in the meantime to avoid being hit by spoilers in one of the six different Doctor Who Facebook groups to which I belong.
However, the long-awaited day did dawn at last. I picked up our babysitter on my way home from work, and felt a little guilty that she was babysitting for our kids while we went to Doctor Who when I found out that she’s a fan too. Such are the vicissitudes of being a teenage babysitter, I guess. I remember thinking that most of the things the parents I babysat for as a teenager were doing sounded more fun than staying home with their kids too.
When I got home, I was delighted to find that Tony had bought us Doctor Who T-shirts for the occasion. Here’s a bad selfie taken at the theater:
And here’s one of Tony catching a cat-nap before the movie:
His, of course, is the Tenth Doctor. And mine’s the TARDIS, over a grunged-out Union Jack. I love it.
As for the actual episode, I loved it too. Be warned, the following thoughts on it not only contain abundant spoilers, but will be completely unintelligible if you haven’t seen the episode.
First of all, I loved how alien the Doctor was. I really think he had more empathy for the dinosaur than for any of the humans, including Clara. I adore David Tennant, but he was a very human Doctor, and always intent on understanding everyone’s feelings and reassuring them. The way Capaldi seriously let Clara think he had abandoned her was so unnerving, but so empowering for her. It really reminded me of the Fourth Doctor–unpredictable and brilliant, but almost a little cold. It’s impossible to forget that Capaldi’s not human. And he’s SO funny! Plus, I love, love, love the Scottish accent. I’m so glad they let him keep it.
I also liked the way Clara had a hard time reconciling herself to the new Doctor. But even more, I liked that it showed how hard it was for him for her to look at him and not see him. And I didn’t mind the phone call with the 11th Doctor. It was a good way to establish emotional continuity, both for her and for him. I also found it fascinating how the Doctor wondered about where his new faces come from. I’ve heard it speculated that he was remembering his meeting with Caecilius at Pompeii. But I like to think that there’s some interesting explanation for how he gets each particular new face, since it seems pretty random.
The balloon made out of human skin was a little much, I thought. And the half-faced man was terrifying and horrible. Those androids in The Girl in the Fireplace were never my favorite, so I wasn’t overly thrilled to see something similar. This is definitely an episode my kids would find terrifying, and I think lived up to the speculation that Moffat was planning to take the series in a “darker” direction.
I know that some people love them, but personally I am pretty tired of Madame Vastra and her entourage. Especially Strax, who has started to feel like predictable comic relief to me. The Doctor himself is funny enough on his own. So I hope they stop appearing, so we can see some new faces. I’m intrigued by Missy and all the theories around her. I’d love for her to be another incarnation of River Song, but I don’t really think she is. The names of the last two episodes make me think that the Promised Land/Paradise/Heaven must be a pretty central theme. I can’t wait to see how that plays out.
One really fun thing about Deep Breath was that the whole episode had a decidedly Steampunk feel. The costumes were delightful (especially Clara’s opulent green dress). And the Doctor up on a rooftop in his nightgown like Wee Willie Winkie was utterly endearing. Yes, the plot was convoluted, but people who don’t like convoluted plots likely stopped watching Doctor Who a long time ago. I am excited for the new season, and I think this first episode did a great job at raising many more questions than it answered, introducing some fascinating new themes and characters, and most of all, establishing that Peter Capaldi is subtle, unpredictable, brilliant, and born to play the Doctor.