Review: “Doctor Who: Deep Breath” (TV Show Episode)

Yes, I can't draw dinosaurs very well...

Yes, I can’t draw dinosaurs very well…

Well, I’ve just finished watching the feature-length first episode of the new series of “Doctor Who” on BBC1, so I thought that I’d write a quick review of it here.

However, before I go any further, I should point out that this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS. You have been warned.

“Deep Breath” starts out in spectacular fashion with a T-Rex wreaking havoc in Victorian London. Prehistoric reptililian alien detective Madame Vastra, and her wife Jenny, have been called to the scene to investigate. Shortly after they arrive, the T-Rex looks like it is in trouble and – a few seconds later – it vomits up the TARDIS.

When Clara and the newly-regenerated doctor (now played by Peter Capaldi) emerge from the TARDIS, the Doctor mentions that they were trying to escape from the dinosaur and that it must have eaten the TARDIS before they could jump through time.

So, of course, they have to start looking for a way to get the T-Rex back to prehistoric times. But, the Doctor is still recovering from his regeneration and is in a very confused state. Not only that, there are also a mysterious spate of murders on the streets of London by a creepy-looking robot that the team have to investigate…..

One of the first things I will say about this episode is that it’s a lot more “serious” than most episodes of “Doctor Who” are. The sets are gloomier, the dialogue is more emotional, there’s more “drama” and the new Doctor even makes me look upbeat and cheerful by comparison. Yes, there are a few absolutely brilliant funny moments, but the general atmosphere of the whole episode is a lot gloomier than usual.

Not only that, the main storyline (about a group of robots who need to harvest body parts in order to survive) is also surprisingly dark too. Yes, don’t expect a proper horror movie here (hell, it’s pre-watershed for starters) but this is probably about the closest that “Doctor Who” has got to this.

Plus, there’s at least one scene which is vaguely reminiscent of “The Terminator” too. And, whilst all of this was kind of cool, it was slightly unexpected and a pretty major departure from the tone of the show over the past couple of series.

Still, despite the seriousness of the episode, there are some absolutely brilliant moments here. The best is probably a brilliant line from Madame Vasta (which anyone who has ever been in the closet and/or had to hide a part of themselves will probably relate to) when she is talking about why she hides her reptilian face under a veil in public: “I do not wear it [her veil] as a courtesy to people, but as a judgement on their hearts“.

At the moment, I’m still unsure whether or not I think that Peter Capaldi was a good choice for the new Doctor. I don’t know, he’s grumpy, morose, cynical and slightly unbalanced and, well, this is such a jarring contrast with the previous few Doctors. No doubt that I’ll possibly come to like him after a few episodes, but his portrayal of the Doctor is probably something of an acquired taste.

Still, the writers of the show obviously recognise this fact, since a lot of the emotional drama in the episode comes from Clara getting used to the new Doctor (with a hint that she may or may not have fancied the previous Doctor) and from the new Doctor himself getting used to being old, grumpy and Scottish. And, as you might expect, there are at least a couple of sly references to the upcoming Scottish independence referendum in this episode.

Even so, Matt Smith fans will probably be pleasantly surprised near the end of the episode since he puts in a brief cameo appearance to both remind us what an absolutely brilliant Doctor he was – and how different the current Doctor is.

The special effects in this episode are as good as you will probably expect and there are a couple of fairly well-choreographed action scenes too. Even though it’s a lot more serious and gloomy than the show has ever really been before. As I said earlier, the new Doctor is something of an acquired taste and I’m still not quite sure whether I like him or not.

If I had to give this episode a rating out of five, then it would probably get a four.

(I’m also not sure if I’m going to review every episode of the new series, but I might review a few of them).

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