Matt Smith hands the Sonic Screwdriver and Tardis over to Peter Capaldi in the new season of Doctor Who.
The debut episode deals with the regeneration madness or disorientation of the twelfth doctor and a robot who harvests human body parts in order to survive until he gets to…watch the episode and find out what happens. No spoilers here boys and girls!
Deep Breath is a very important episode because it represents the reboot of the franchise with Capaldi at its helm. In all technicality, the story of Doctor Who should have ended with Matt Smith however, in his final episode he was given a new regeneration cycle by the trapped Time Lords thus paving the way for Capaldi and who knows who as long as the series remains popular.
The writing, of which Steven Moffat leads, doesn’t convince me that Capaldi was the right choice to take over the role. Instead we get an overdrawn, over the top performance from Capaldi which looked like William Shatner playing Capt. Kirk reciting Shakespeare .The Doctor’s rehabilitation from the regeneration went way too long and accomplished nothing.
Another problem for me with Deep Breath, was the constant reminder that the Doctor is so much older than the previous incarnations, but regardless what from the Doctor takes he is still the Doctor. This isn’t the first regeneration in the series, is Moffat trying to convince the Whovians or himself in his decision of Capaldi?
Another issue I have with this episode is the fact it was extended to 80 minutes in order to give the audience and the Doctor time to take a “Deep Breath”. Instead however, it got me exhaling deeply throughout the episode in disbelief. I just wanted it to end.
I’d also read that Capaldi would portray a darker version of the Doctor than what fans are accustomed to but I guess in England dark means bland and boring? Capaldi seems out of his element as the Doctor in this episode.
I was pleasantly surprised with writer Steven Moffatt when he pulls a rabbit out of the Tardis with an interesting analogy, and gives the Doctor a line that for an instant saves Deep Breath from total disaster for me. It goes something like this, “if you take a broom and replace the handle, and then later replace the brush – and you do it over and over again – is it still the same broom? Answer: No, of course it isn’t, but you can still sweep the floor . . .” This gave me some hope that Steven Moffat may still have something up his sleeve, to seal the deal with Capaldi and the audience.
Of course everything goes haywire again when Clara gets a call from a mid-regeneration Matt Smith telling her that this new Doctor needs her help. It should have been a tender moment but all it did was reinforce my doubt of Capaldi as the twelfth doctor. The moment undermined the whole idea of accepting the new Doctor regardless of age or form.
Deep Breath does have its moments. It allowed his companion, Clara, to show more range in her acting style but it is Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint that steal every scene that they are in. They should definitely have a spin-off series of their own.
All being said, I think Deep Breath would have made a good mid- season filler episode but was weak overall as a debut episode / introduction to a new doctor.
I do hope that I am proven wrong about Capaldi by the end of the season and will take a deep breath before I say, Allons-y! or Geronimo…