Do NOT read this post until you've seen the series 8 premier, 'Deep Breath'. To quote River, "spoilers".
I'll try to keep this short because I'm certain everyone with a blog will be posting a review of Peter Capaldi's first episode of 'Doctor Who'. First and foremost, the episode kicked off with a dinosaur in the Thames. Considering my unyielding love for dinosaurs, I was pleased as punch from "go". Throw in Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, and you've got a recipe for a smashing episode.
I went into the premier with as much of an open mind as I could, given my feelings toward Moffat. For the most part, I really enjoyed it. It was funny, there were plenty of references for long time fans, nods to past Doctors, and Moffat even cleverly touched on a lot of questions people had expressed about Capaldi's casting. I felt that the scenes with The Doctor in the alleyway with the tramp were some of the most poignant scenes in the whole episode. His disorientation was both amusing and troubling; you really felt for him as he tried to piece together who he is. Making references to his face being familiar ("You know I never know where the faces come from, they just pop up.") was a brilliant way to touch on Capaldi's previous appearance in 'The Fires of Pompeii', and hopefully quiet the people who are still going on about it as thought it were strange for the show to re-use actors (everyone wave at Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan as we finally move past this annoying, little argument). In addition, I hope that the fact that this episode was rather centered around Clara's inability to accept The Doctor as an older man, means we can continue our forward momentum and leave the whole "Ew, he's so old!" arguments in the past as well.
|First, he's not that old. Second, that man is bloody HOT!|
There were, however, several issues I had with 'Deep Breath'. Rehashing the droids rebuilding their ship with human parts plot line was a bit trite for my tastes, but at least Moffat touched on the fact that he was essentially retelling 'The Girl in the Fireplace', the only 'Doctor Who' episode he wrote for the 2006 series. Still, Moffat, I'm going to need for you to get your ego in check, please.
Next, as much as I adore Vastra, Jenny, and Strax (and I do), I'd really love it if Vastra and Jenny could have actual conversations. If they're not talking to or about The Doctor, they're taking every possible opportunity to point out that they're married. Yeah, it's very progressive and whatnot that you have characters in an interspecies, lesbian relationship, but we needn't be reminded of that every five seconds. At this point, I honestly can't tell if Moffat is harping on their relationship as a way to prove he's forward thinking and cool, or because it plays into some icky personal fantasy. Either way, it's gotten old, and is now just further proof that he has serious difficulty writing female characters who aren't one dimensional.
Finally, the Matt Smith cameo. I rolled my eyes and sighed with derision when he popped up on the screen. That was completely unnecessary. Smith's Doctor needed to be brought back one last time to explain to Clara that she needs to accept his new regeneration? Really? Moffat has written such a weak character that he couldn't even find a way to have her come to that on her own?? First, Vastra had to point out that she was being judgmental, but that was clearly not enough of a wake up call for daft, little Clara. No, she needed to have the Doctor she was comfortable with actually call her bloody cell phone from Trenzalore (because he knew that she wouldn't be able to handle this on her own) to tell her everything was alright. A friend pointed out that perhaps that scene was done expressly for the benefit of the younger fans who were so up in arms about Capaldi's casting. I've already pointed out that the entire episode was centered around that theme, so I think that if that's the case, then those fans should feel insulted that Moffat thought they couldn't come to that on their own through watching the episode, and that they needed that extra, little push. That scene, to me, pulled down an otherwise entertaining episode a notch, and left a very bad taste in my mouth. It turned an episode that was supposed to be the exciting, long awaited introduction to Capaldi's Doctor into yet another far-fetched, overly dramatic farewell to Matt Smith.
I truly hope that Moffat can move forward from here. Peter Capaldi is an incredibly talented actor, and I think he's going to make a brilliant Doctor if Moffat can just give him the material to work with. I'd like to see Clara come into her own, and gain a little personality outside of her connection to The Doctor. Perhaps Vastra and Jenny could become fully developed characters instead of just the show's token gay characters. As it is with everything involving The Doctor, time will tell.