Saturday, 9 August 2014

"Deep Breath" - Spoiler Free Review


"Deep Breath" is an incredibly important episode - with the 50th Anniversary done, with the regeneration issue solved, this episode not only sets the tone for the new era of the show but, obviously, it also introduces one of the most anticipated Doctors ever.  In contrast to the hate and nastiness that accompanied Matt Smith's casting, Peter Capaldi has been met with a high level of approval and delight - that brings different pressures to bear and this was evident in the Q&A following the Cardiff screening.  Peter Capaldi seemed a bit nervous at first - perhaps concerned at how fans would take to his Doctor.  He need not have worried - if the reaction in Cardiff is anything to go by then his Doctor is already loved.  The audience not only clapped his name in the titles but broke out in spontaneous cheers at various points during the episode.  That might give you an idea of just how delightful "Deep Breath" is.

Visually stunning, beautifully directed with scintillating dialogue, "Deep Breath" is a complete change of pace from the previous recent eras of the show.  The scenes are longer, there's time to breathe - to take it all in and process it.  As a result, the characters really come to the fore - and none more so than Clara.  Clara's reactions to the new Doctor highlight the difference between the knowledge that he changes his face to the emotional reaction and acceptance to that change.  In a way, I felt that Clara represented that certain section of fandom who were/are very resistant to Capaldi because of his age.  Clara's journey through the episode from disbelief and wanting his previous face back to acceptance and realisation that he IS the same man (with a little help from a friend) is really the backbone of the episode.  And I tip my hat to Jenna Coleman.  She is amazing in this - from quiet moments with the Paternoster Gang to brilliant quick-fire arguments with the Doctor, Jenna Coleman makes you believe and really care about Clara.

In this episode, it's good to have some familiarity (hence the Paternoster Gang) - and whilst another theme of the episode is "faces", keep an eye out for the scene between the Doctor and a tramp.  It's not only fabulous but as the tramp is played by Brian Miller (Elisabeth Sladen's husband for those who don't know) it's one of a number of little nods to the past.

The plot?  Not important.  Really, it's not.  I mean, it's good - there are some nice twists and an unexpected surprise or two but, like "The Eleventh Hour", the main aim is to introduce us to the Twelfth Doctor.  We've all heard the comments from the writers about how much darker the new Doctor is - and, believe me, there are a couple of moments where this darkness is much in evidence (as is the Capaldi glare) but what DID surprise me was the warmth and teasing nature of this Doctor.  He's energetic, he's unpredictable, somewhat rude and insulting but he's also funny with a quite wonderful twinkle in his eyes.

There are questions that keep being asked:  "Is he like Pertwee?"  "Is he like Tom Baker or William Hartnell?"  The answer is...no.  Just no.  He's Capaldi.  And he's bloody wonderful.