By Will Barber – Taylor
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 with The Doctor 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.
Deep Breath is an odd story. It doesn’t really feel like a regeneration story, it doesn’t even really feel like a normal Doctor Who story. It seems strangely cumbersome, bloated almost. While Moffat’s previous attempt at a regeneration story, The Eleventh Hour moved along quickly and slickly Deep Breath feels lengthier and weighted down.
Almost like the Dinosaur of the pre credits it just sort of stands still and doesn’t really do anything. The main problem with Deep Breath isn’t the acting, or the directing or the special effects, they are all great. The real problem is that it hasn’t got a plot. It might pretend it does but it really doesn’t. It seems to be a collection of scenes that have been stuck together with sticky tape. The characters and the audience stumble from one set piece to another. It sort of stops and starts, particularly in the scenes when The Doctor isn’t present. Vastra, Jenny, Strax and Co simply deliver funny one liners before moving onto the next scene. There isn’t any real continuous storyline. In short, it isn’t the best way to start the Capaldi era.
Peter Capaldi is great as the new Doctor. While at first he seems to be quite similar to Matt Smith’s Doctor throughout the story he slowly grows and grows into his own version of the character. He truly feels like The Doctor during the scene in which he confronts the clockwork droid. Capaldi really owns the scene and doesn’t make light of it. He is cool, calm and collected but there is steel beneath that calm. He is much more angry and aggressive than Smith’s Doctor. By the end, the audience is in no doubt that he is The Doctor. The question is though, whether the audience will embrace this bold new, darker Doctor.
The directing of Deep Breath is gorgeously done by Ben Wheatley. Everything is elegant and Wheatley manages to get a real sense of smog and smoke to the surroundings, making it all eerie and grim as a Victorian setting should be.
Deep Breath isn’t the worst episode of Doctor Who. Ironically there are stories that have plots (see my Attack of the Cybermen review to see what I mean) that are worse. The thing that really keeps the story together is Capaldi. His new fresh approach keeps things going throughout and makes the audience continue to watch. The Paternoster Gang and Clara are also well played with hats off to Neve McIntosh, Jenna Coleman, Dan Starkey and Catrin Stewart. However, it has to be said that they are not as perky or colourful as usual (something which is sadly the norm for Clara).
Deep Breath is watchable but like I say mainly down to the acting and directing and not the script. Hopefully, Moffat will up his game later on in the Capaldi era.
INTO THE DALEK