Deep Breath, the first episode of Series 8, had its premier in Cardiff on Thursday, and of course, the media swarmed. What do they think of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor? What do they think of the new direction? How adorable is Jenna Coleman’s Clara?
It’s time to find out…
What’s it about?
When the Doctor arrives in Victorian London, he finds a dinosaur rampant in the Thames and a spate of deadly spontaneous combustions.
Who is the new Doctor and will Clara’s friendship survive as they embark on a terrifying mission into the heart of an alien conspiracy? The Doctor has changed. It’s time you knew him.
Peter Capaldi IS The Doctor
It seems everyone likes the Twelfth Doctor!
Total Film, very simply, sums up the press’ confidence in Capaldi: “Deep breath, relax: Capaldi knows how to fly this thing.”
The South Wales Evening Post describes his character as “unpredictable, frenzied, yet strangely vulnerable, and it is this tenderness in his character that makes him so instantly likeable,” while The Mirror puts to bed one concern: “He doesn’t skimp on energy. Quite soon… he is to be seen leaping over the London rooftops wearing just a nightgown and looking for all the world like a grumpy Wee Willy Winkie.”
Sounds like the Doctor, yep.
Den of Geek, meanwhile, says he’s “quietly broken, and really quite mysterious. He is also, and no bones about this, very Scottish. He’s also every bit as good and as interesting as you’d hope.” They go on to say that, “thus far, he doesn’t run much, he rarely shouts, and he has amazing eyebrow dexterity. He carries himself more like the Doctors of old, and he’s seemingly more interested in doing some proper detective work, rather than pegging it from place to place.”
The Herts Advertiser particularly enjoys his unpredictable nature: “[Capaldi] infuses the character with an uncertainty which has been lacking from the role for decades, leaving the audience guessing at how he is likely to react to a situation, and gasping when he does something completely shocking.”
The Telegraph highlight a line that has gone down rather well with the media: “‘I am Scottish,’ he said. ‘I can really complain about things.'” They further explore his energy, saying “Deep Breath was set in Victorian London and we saw the Doctor dance around in a nightgown on the rooftops of the city like a demented extra from Mary Poppins. Later we saw him in a derelict slum, ruminating on his new appearance with a tramp. ‘Why this one?’ he asked of his new face, horrified that his Matt Smith jawline had disappeared.”
The long journey to becoming the Doctor has apparently been worth it for Capaldi though, as The Daily Beast report: “Asked what he would say to his 8-year-old self if he was granted use of the TARDIS. He replied: “I would say to him, ‘Don’t listen to what they say about you. Wear your anorak with pride.’”
The Impossible Girl in an Impossible Situation
“Arguably, though, this is as much, if not more, Jenna Coleman’s episode,” argues Den of Geek. “Clara has been a different companion for the Doctor, in that she’s more than once proven to be one step ahead of him. Here, though, she’s just as broken as the Doctor, and Steven Moffat’s script calls for some hard acting work from Jenna Coleman to put that across, crucially giving her the screen time to do so. She delivers, not in a bombastic way, but quietly and gradually, building up her performance and the mix of sadness and confusion in her character.”
The Herts Advertiser agrees: “In many ways the greatest burden falls on the shoulders of Jenna Coleman, who must convey the fear, suspicion, doubt and ultimately acceptance which Clara experiences in dealing with this new Doctor. That she achieves this so faultlessly is proof of her strengths as an actor, and illustrates how she has evolved since joining the show two years ago.”
The Daily Beast puts her relationship with the new Doc under the microcope, saying “the new Doctor’s abrasive character, and face, comes as something of a shock after she often had the upper hand over Smith. ‘From the moment Peter turns up, she realises she’s in terrible trouble,’ Moffat explained.”
Wales Online, however, assures us that their relationship is still great: “In the Q&A after the screening Capaldi talked about this new relationship: ‘The Doctor is crazy about Clara. It’s not just about romance, it goes into deeper territory.’ It has developed from the psuedo-boyfriend relationship into a father figure.
“And the show will be much the better for it.”
Showrunner, Steven Moffat is once again charged with introducing a new Doctor, and the press sounds to have enjoyed it – in a different way to Matt Smith’s debut in the brilliant The Eleventh Hour. “This is Steven Moffat at his most straightforward” The Herts Advertiser says, “offering a story which isn’t too clever for its own good, but instead focuses on the logical development of the narrative and motivations of his characters.”
The Daily Beast is also impressed: “The Doctor is more mature, but so is the way the new season is shot, with longer scenes, a slower pace, and more emphasis on conversation and characterization. Speaking at the premiere in London, Steven Moffat… said it was about time he updated the tone. ‘There was a danger we were getting faster every year and soon the episodes would be over in four minutes—and I thought we have to do something else,’ he said.”
“Moffat said it was still ‘absolutely phenomenal’ to witness the fans’ response to the screening,” the Guardian reports. “‘To be perfectly honest, I write it largely to entertain me,’ he said. ‘And sometimes, because the Doctor now happens to be a fellow Scotsman of roughly my age, I write to entertain Peter.'”
South Wales Evening Post, meanwhile, compares this new direction with The Other Show, stating that “it’s no coincidence that the episode has a distinctly Sherlock Holmes feel about it, as the two heroes set about collecting clues about the mystery at hand, while discovering new things about their own personalities.”
The Independent turns to the “he’s too old” argument, blowing it out of the water: “The plot contains a sharp lesson on ageist assumptions – just because the Doctor has gone grey, doesn’t mean he has lost his youth appeal.”
And we have a new director! Ben Wheatley, who has directed the first two episodes of Series 8, is best known for his dark films like The Kill List, and The Independent says that this new feel is fitting for Doctor Twelve: “It is one of the scarier episodes of the series, but the dark mood Wheatley creates makes the Doctor’s dark side all the more plausible.”
“Wheatley proves a strong match for the material, lending Deep Breath a cinematic identity without showing off to do it,” Den of Geek says. “Unusual camera angles, holding his shots, and with a sharp eye for character (and, yep, eyebrows), Wheatley brings something extra here. It’ll be interesting to see if he holds the same tone for his second episode.”
Total Film concurs that this cinematic direction “shares a purposeful mien with Capaldi’s “attack eyebrows” and reiterates Wheatley’s flair for witty/tense stand-offs over dinner tables.”
Ooh, You Big Tease!
Don’t panic: we’re not into spoilers here at Kasterborous, but the newspapers do share knowing glances as to what’s to come on 23rd August.
“There are nods to previous episodes and cheeky acknowledgements of previous Doctors,” Wales Online says, “but done in such a way as to delight the hard-core fans while not distracting the new.”
Den of Geek hints that, “with some flat out brilliant moments in the last third, there’s an old fashioned ethos of putting in the foundations, doing the ground work, and building on substance. As such, the big moments really hit.” The Independent, like many reviewers, tempts us with that “am I a good man?” quote that’s been extensively shown in trailers, claiming that “Deep Breath ties up many a loose end, but that question remains thrillingly unanswered.”
But the biggest tease comes from The Telegraph: “Best of all was the penultimate scene (following a very shocking and very secret cameo which will delight fans of the show), in which the Doctor and Clara showed each other their vulnerability and hinted that travelling through space and time together might be good for their souls.”
Yep, people are impressed. Wales Online calls it “an old-school TV romp, and a welcome return for Saturday nights.”
“Welcome aboard, Peter Capaldi,” says the South Wales Evening Post. “If the first episode is anything to go by, we could be in for the best series yet.” High praise indeed!
Den of Geek state that “few are going to feel shortchanged by Deep Breath. There’s a sense that the show has changed a little certainly, yet perhaps the biggest surprise is how relatively quiet much of the feature-length opener is.” And The Independent address those leaks: “This new episode fully justifies the patience of those #keepmespoilerfree fans, determined to wait it out for the Steven Moffat-approved version. It is a perfectly paced, hugely enjoyable 80 minutes of everything you want from Doctor Who – action, silly jokes and enthralling sci-fi.”
Giving it 4 out of 5 stars, The Telegraph applauds Deep Breath, simply stating something all us Whovians know: “Doctor Who is still the most intelligent, ambitious and eccentric show on British television.”
For us, 23rd August can’t come soon enough!