Season 8 kicked off with Deep Breath – the first story for the Twelfth Doctor, Clara and the whole Paternoster gang of Madame Vastra, Strax and Jenny. Written by Steven Moffat, how dark was it and how did Capaldi perform as the latest regeneration of the Doctor? What is happening with the dinosaur loose in Victorian London and who or what is causing the rash of spontaneous combustions?
It started in suitably grand fashion with the ever-forgetful population of Victorian London soon to overlook a burning dinosaur paraded outside the Houses of Parliament. Capaldi was immediately distinct and Moffat chose a story that had the Doctor suffering from memory problems and re-adjusting to his colleagues.
The plot, as such, was fairly thin though the re-use of ideas from Girl in the Fireplace was better than yet another one-off humanoid monster. How the spaceship Marie Antionette survived for untold millennia in London (alongside countless other such ships) I will overlook. The spontaneous combustion idea was a nice period touch and this allowed plenty of space for Clara vs the Doctor. At last Jenna Coleman had some real acting and the best scenes in this story (for the central pair) were in the restaurant.
As the Doctor stabilised and re-bonded with Clara there was a great off-screen resolution to the story of the Marie Antionette and a ‘did he jump or was he pushed’ ending for the Half-Face Man.
[pullquote]Strax has now become a cartoon character[/pullquote]
Madame Vastra and Jenny were much more complex than they had been though I felt the story went to great lengths to spell out their relationship. There was a good motif with the idea of the veil and appearances. Poor Strax has now become a cartoon character and this despite his brief scene when he gives Clara a medical examination.
The repeat of the Capaldi face (ie he was in Fires of Pompeii and Torchwood: Children of Earth) has not been ignored and I liked the mention of Amy. If we remember the Doctor’s own timeline he spent many 100s of years on Trenzalore in the town of Christmas away from Clara. Yes they met up again and she saved the day but who did he see last? Amy. It is rare for a Doctor to mention prior companions so soon (I believe – please correct me) but this worked for me.
The Matt Smith cameo had been well-leaked and it did close the story out and give us continuity between actors. It also seems that we are in for at least one story arc. The ‘who gave Clara the phone number’ mystery (fans would like Ace, I would like it to be Miss Delphox and her to be the Meddling Monk) and also the ending will link through. What is Heaven all about and who will die there?
As usual all was wonderful – costumes, effects, and what about the new, fan inspired opening?
A darker tone in some ways though many other episodes have looked dark (the Moffat stories Blink and Empty Child come to mind).
Not bad. I thought it flawed in places (the reviewer’s curse) but enjoyed it. It was maybe a little long as well but I do feel we are well set up for a new season. Bring it on!