in which yr hmbl whatever teases out his feelings on the new series by writing about them.
- Changes ahoy! New Doctor, new Tardis control room, new titles and music. I still think Murray Gold’s score is ladelled on with a trowel. The theme lurches ever closer to the KLF/Timelords version (DOC-TOR WHO-OOH! OY! DOC-TOR OO!) and replacing the time tunnel in the title sequence with timey-wimey iconography is a choice with which one will have to make peace. The new throne room is, however, a big, thick helping of lovelieness. You’ve redecorated. I like it.
- As for the man himself… well, it’s Peter Capaldi, innit? You know what you’re gonna get, and you know it’s gonna be quality. His take is admirably bug-eyed and Baker-esque, and for the first time in a long time I think we’re seeing a Doctor who has seen and done an awful lot in his time. Man, those eyebrows.
- NuWho has always worked best at parsing some of the more unexplained elements of the mythos, and “Deep Breath” has a mostly successful dig around the notion of regeneration–specifically, the idea that The Doctor might have more of an input into how he looks following the fireworks than we’ve all been led to believe. The wacky costumes and strange behaviour have always been a shrewd distraction, and many of the Doctor’s foes have been defeated through the simple act of underestimating the man they face. With this regeneration, I get the feeling that he’s putting all that aside. This is one scary dude who’s sick of playing games.
- On that appearance change: there’s an element of playing up to Capaldi’s most famous role. “I’m Scottish! That means I get to shout at people!” Those of us who didn’t like the notion of Malcolm Tucker settling into the TARDIS are just going to have to get used to it. Personally, I love the idea of Capaldi keeping his accent. After all, we’ve already had a Northern Doctor.
- The whole thing with a companion having to re-discover her relationship with the Doctor is something we’ve seen before, but it’s given a twist in “Deep Breath” by giving the old incumbent the chance to explain what’s happened directly. A neat touch, and again one that explores the notion of just how involuntary regeneration is for The Doctor. By stripping the pretence of romance away from the relationship, we’ll hopefully get a more playful take on the dynamic between Clara and the man in the box. Am I alone in thinking the Catherine Tate/David Tennant era was the most innovative and interesting of NuWho? “I just want a mate.” “You want to MATE?” More like that, please.
- I could have done with a few more of Ben Wheatley’s trademark psychedelic touches, but I appreciate that he’s working to a very precise brief and constraints. The colour flashes we see as Clara struggles to hold her breath in the hall of robots was pretty inspired but, for the most part, I’d forgotten that Wheatley was even directing until I saw his credit at the end. I see Michael Smiley’s in next week’s Dalek story. Can’t imagine how he got that gig…
- I haven’t even got around to talking about the story yet. Any season-opener, particularly one where a new Doctor arrives, has a plot that’s secondary to the main event, and this one did feel a little slung together when we weren’t talking to the Doctor and Clara. Recycled bads, even ones from one of Tennant’s finest moments, always feel like a retrograde move. However, any ep that features Vastra, Jenny and Strax is always welcome. Way past time for a spin-off series, I say.
- As for Michelle Gomez–I can’t be the only one to see the parallels between Missy’s capering in the garden and the hardcore mugging of John Simms as the Master. I’ve been a fan of hers since Green Wing, and I think we’re in for a treat wth her as the season’s major threat.
- Generally? Yes, very happy. And there still aren’t many shows out there that could treat the spontaneous combustion of a tyrannosaur in Victorian London as a minor plot point. Here’s to more inspired lunacy this autumn!