Doctor Who Season 8 Review “Deep Breath”

Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 1 Deep Breath (7)

After a long, eight-month wait, Doctor Who is finally back on the air. And, though not as radical a change as the premiere of Matt Smith in “The Eleventh Hour,” with several familiar faces appearing to help viewers through the transition, a new Doctor’s premiere is always a big deal, giving viewers an idea what the tone and style of the show will be like going forward. So, the big question with “Deep Breath” is of course how Peter Capaldi fits the role as the Twelfth Doctor.

The answer, truthfully, is that the jury’s still out. Much like David Tennant’s premiere as the Tenth Doctor, this episode was far more about his companions dealing with the character’s sudden change. Sure, the Doctor went on an adventure, but he spent a lot of time this episode questioning who he is and what kind of man he’s going to be. That said, whoever he’ll be in the future, Capaldi did a standout job in this premiere, selling the Doctor’s confusion and worry as well as his adventurous spirit. As a fan of The Thick of It, I’d been highly anticipating Capaldi, and so far, he’s a great fit for the role.

On the familiar side of things, Clara wasn’t the only old companion along for this first adventure, with Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax all along for the ride. While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the past two seasons of the show, the Paternoster Gang has been one of the most successful additions to the show, to the point that I wouldn’t mind a spin-off focused entirely on the trio’s misadventures. They didn’t have a whole lot to do in this episode, but it’s always nice to have them around.

Actually, Madame Vastra had a fairly important role, helping Clara – and, by proxy, the audience – come to terms with the Doctor’s transformation. The scene was fortunately brief, with Clara quickly brushing off the idea that she only liked the Doctor for his youthful look. Yes, Tennant and Matt Smith both reached a bit of “dreamboat” status in the fan community, but I’d like to think that fans are willing to give any actor a chance, no matter their age.

Instead, the focus was on the change itself, with Clara, like Rose and countless others before her, having to deal with the loss of “her” Doctor, the man who had become her closest friend. Fortunately, by the end of the episode, she’d found it in herself to keep travelling with the Doctor and help him figure out who he is, all thanks to a cameo phone call by his previous self.

The problems with the episode, then, come down to a lame villain and length. At 76 minutes, this was a long one even by special episode standards, and that really hurt the overall product. Frankly, the episode could’ve used a bit more time in the editing room, as the episode had an extremely slow pace, with some scenes running much longer than they needed to. Similarly, the clockwork cyborgs, while interesting in concept, failed to make an impression or serve as a threat. “Don’t breath” just doesn’t have the same ring “don’t blink,” I suppose.

Overall, though, this was a solid opener to the new season, ringing in what looks to be a promising new era for the show. From Capaldi’s intensity to the introduction of the mysterious Missy in the epilogue, I’m excited for Doctor Who like I haven’t been in years. Here’s hoping it lives up to the potential.

What did you think of the Twelfth Doctor? Let me know in the comments!