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    Tags: Doctor_Who, Peter_Capaldi, Jenna_Coleman, Steven_Moffatt, Sarah_OHara

    Review: Doctor Who - Deep Breath

    FACT CINEMA, SATURDAY 23RD AUGUST 2014

     

    “How long can you hold your breath?”

     

    Sitting in my seat along with a hundred or so other Whovians, the words ‘Deep Breath’ seemed to have more significance that just an episode name.  For months, fans across the world had drawn their own deep breaths in expectation of Capaldi’s doctor and the mystery that this new regeneration would have in store. Then all of a sudden it happened – a giant dinosaur spat out the Tardis and the 12th/13th Doctor walked out with a mystique all of his own…

     

    And I loved it.

     

    Capaldi quite certainly was born to be the Doctor. To me he IS the Doctor. I always thought no-one could replace either Davison or McGann in my heart as my favourite time lord, but Capaldi did so with a mixture of humour and darkness that was a refreshing change from the previous regenerations. His characterisation is somewhere between the eccentricities of the 4th and the action hero of the 3rd, but with a persona all of his own. The scene between the Doctor and the tramp was amazingly witty (“Look at these eyebrows! They’re attack eyebrows!”), but tense as his demands for the tramp’s coat revealed a more confrontational and intimidating side to his personality. He’s reckless, he’s truthful, he’s amusing but what else will he reveal? Only this series will tell.

     

    If anything I feel extremely empathetic towards this regeneration. Capaldi performed the manic first hours of regeneration perfectly, a process that seemed all too easy for the previous Doctor, through the discovery of his new personality and recovery of his past (look out for the link to ‘The girl in the fireplace’ in this episode – it’s extremely clever). Whether it was wondering why he spoke with a Scottish accent or why he had been given an older face, his wide-eyed franticness, physicality and gestures revealed the confusion and shock of regeneration that had been long lost since the series reboot in 2005.

     

    This shock however leaves waves of emotions for all who know the Doctor, none so much as Clara, whose pain and worry of perhaps losing the man she knew was encapsulated in a sensational performance by Jenna Coleman. It was amazing to see Clara out of her comfort zone and left to defend herself in front of the terrifying (and I mean terrifying) clock-work man. Coleman was convincingly scared, a feat emphasised through the defensiveness of Clara’s speech in juxtaposition with Coleman’s weeping facial expressions. Plus the dynamic between the Doctor and Clara was brilliant in the restaurant scene where the Doctor’s bluntness about Clara’s need to be in control came to a head. The relationship is strikingly different to that of Clara and Matt Smith’s Doctor but it’s one that I cannot wait to see develop in the episodes to come.

     

    The episode itself was intriguing, although the multiple strands to the story including dinosaurs in the Thames, the missing doctor and the Clockwork man sometimes left me wondering how it would all interlink. Madame Vastra’s declaration that “The game is on” seemed more like a nod to Moffatt’s hit show Sherlock, but the inclusion of the lovable Victorian trio added an extra dose of fun to one of the darker stories of recent years.  

     

    There was one underlying theme however that stuck with me throughout ‘Deep Breath’ – the link to past Who stories. The armchair, bookcase and darker lighting in the Tardis was reminiscent of the 8th Doctor’s, whilst the mention of “round things” on the walls was a humourous nod to its infamous décor. Combine this with a storyline that was more complex, much like the classic Who stories, could we perhaps be seeing the Doctor return to his roots? Only our time lord knows.

     

    ‘Deep Breath’ has to be one of the best series openers for a long time. If the rest of the series is as epic as this one, then Moffatt and the Tardis crew will have a real treat in store for us.  

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      Sarah's posts By Sarah O' Hara
      @TheLowdownMag


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