Sunday, 24 August 2014

Review: Doctor Who 8.1: Deep Breath

Readers should note that I am very, very rusty atm when it comes to writing, so this isn't my best work. Written 23/8/14.
Capaldi's new Doctor brings out the characterisation in
Clara, too, who is written with more tact here.
From Den of Geek.
A bit of a foreword before I dive in: a few weeks ago, there was a highly publicised incident wherein the first five scripts for Series Eight were leaked onto the web. Cynic as I am, I went and read them, and thus had my opinions of the scripts coloured by that first impression. That has, I believe, not had much effect however, as it led to me being pleasantly surprised in several places by how much the production team had sanded the edges off some of Moffat's more problematic elements.
     After the complete and total dirge that ended Matt Smith's tenure, it's not hard to raise the stakes, even if we're faced with the excitement of a regeneration story and the prospect of a new, more mature Doctor. While I had very mixed feelings on the selection of the very white and very male Peter Capaldi, this episode did more than enough to enamour him to me within at least the first few minutes - even though the script seemed to be trying very hard to stop me. Inside and outside of the program's universe, there's something about Capaldi and his sheer love for the program which gives him a certain charm, and that bleeds through into the character. Twelve is a Doctor who will get stuff done - even if he still has a few blunders along the way. And, all things permitting, it's looking good. For now.
     The episode itself, when you strip away the regeneration plot, was an old enemy dusted off and given a few minor alterations, mostly with the addition of a clever theme surrounding age and renewal - quite possibly a first for Moffat, that, a theme. The use of the organ harvesting robots from The Girl In The Fireplace was inspired, with them being possibly the best thing about that episode, even if this time the tone of high-pace jollity jarred somewhat with the hot-air balloon made of human skin. (Not even making that up.) While a lot of the questions it asked and the themes it covered were slapshot and quick-fire, at least it was asking those questions and covering those themes in a meaningful way, which is new.
Moffat's villain wasn't that well-developed considering
the run-time, but it was creepy anyway.
From ulcermagazine
     Usually there are lots of little nitpicks to do with character interactions which I would find offensive, but in an interesting turn of events a lot of the things I hated about the script have been toned down or simply removed entirely, from a scene showing a semi-nude Catrin Stewart for no reason to a boner joke which was, thankfully, nerfed in the direction. What was present, however, was Moffat's annoying habit of tell-don't-show characterisation, with other characters informing us of Clara's traits as opposed to her actually displaying them. Clara this episode was brave and stubborn and resolute, while the narrative told us that she was a narcissistic, egomaniacal control-freak.
     I'm a little less concise than I would usually be, but abstaining from writing for a good few months will do that to you. This episode left me feeling pleasantly surprised, and that's because I came away from a Moffat episode without being completely and utterly disgusted. While Capaldi has yet to truly stamp his voice onto the role entirely, he has displayed hints of what his personality will bring to the series, and seeing how much the script had its edges sanded off by the production team, I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this season a lot more than I would otherwise.


NEXT WEEK: Dalek meets Let's Kill Hitler meets The Invisible Enemy. We go Into The Darkness. (Hopefully next week I'll have it in me to be a bit more in-depth)

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