Saturday, 23 August 2014
Doctor Who: Deep Breath
"I'm not your boyfriend."
Damn you, Moffat. My lovely wife may be pregnant, and somewhat prone to blubbing, but that bit where Matt Smith's Doctor told Clara over the phone that his new self would need looking after made her cry!!!
This is the best regeneration story I've properly seen thus far (although seeing The Power of the Daleks with actual footage would be nice, hint hint, Mr Morris and Auntie Beeb). The Moff is, as usual, both very clever and very meta in having the script address head on all of the audience's concerns and questions about the new Doctor (Peter Capaldi is the Doctor, superb and very Tom thus far) and the show's future.
Clara's resistance to this older, non-heartthrob Time Lord echoes that of countless fangirls, one of whom I happen to be married to, but Gem, at least, has been won over. It takes time for Clara to be won over too, but this is both realistic and allows her to voice the fears of a portion of the audience, and moreover the clash between her and Vastra over her denial that the Doctor has changed is a real dramatic highlight.
Capaldi is instantly the Doctor, as expected, but the real delight is Clara who, for the first time, is being given actual character traits and a chance for Jenna Coleman to show what a bloody good actress she is when given the material. It's also notable that, given the new friction between the Doctor and Clara, the two leads have real chemistry, more so than there ever was between Coleman and Matt Smith. A lot if this has to do with Clara suddenly being an actual character with a personality, and not just the walking arc plot MacGuffin that was the impossible girl. She's as much of a revelation here as Capaldi.
The plot, while slightly rehashed from Full Circle, is nicely unfurled, with the surprise baddies ("rubbish robots from the dawn of time") being those clockwork droids from The Girl in the Fireplace way back in season twenty-eight. There are some nice moments as the Doctor and Clara investigate,notably as Clara shows what a tough but she is when being interrogated but most shockingly when the Doctor seems to abandon her, a trick which works in a regeneration story as in no other.
There are other little things to love here aside from the plot and characterisation: the little jokes about the Doctor's accent; the hint that the face he now has (that of a Roman whom he met in Pompeii!) is a clue he set for himself(!)( Strax's many splendidly quotable lines, and the slightly kinky nature of Vastra and Jenny's relationship. Oh, and there's that mysterious lady at the end, who apparently both arranged the Doctor and Clara's rendezvous at the restaurant and performed a similar feat in The Bells of Saint John. We will see her again, I'm sure; season big bad, perhaps?
This is an assured and confident beginning (love the new TARDIS interior and new steampunk title sequence!), with a first class script, an exciting new Doctor and a wonderfully nuanced Doctor/companion relationship. Doctor Who is on a real high right now.