Deep Breath – Some Quick Thoughts

Deep Breath is, at its core, a fairly typical regeneration debut story. The story itself wasn’t bad, but wasn’t exactly anything special either. But a regeneration story has the primary function of successfully introducing the new Doctor to the audience. This is the single most important thing we needed from Deep Breath, to break in Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, and, as such, the episode did an excellent job of it. Everything else is secondary, in my opinion, although there were definitely both plus and minus points.

As I’ve said, the story was nothing exceptional, not exactly setting the world on fire for me. However, there were some nice scenes in it. The character set-pieces and interaction were generally excellent (with the exception of one thing). There were also quite a few nice bits of humour in among all the sad bits, and I also really liked seeing Lady Vastra, Jenny and Strax again. I enjoy these characters a lot, and I think that Strax is absolutely hilarious.

On the negative side, the plot itself was definitely a bit thin, there were at least a couple of glaring plot and character inconsistencies, particularly Clara’s aggressively negative overreaction to the new, older Doctor, which was TOTALLY out of character. Any other companion, yes, it might’ve actually been more realistic, but not the Impossible Girl. She’s met them all. And even if, as some people argue, she has no memories of her other lives (which I disagree with), her reaction was STILL over-the-top and totally out of character.

Hey, she’s already pretty familiar with regeneration and different Doctors, she’s even been in an adventure with three different Doctors (Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt), in The Day of the Doctor 50th Anniversary Special, and having already met (and liked) an older Doctor (Hurt), her overly-negative reaction to Capaldi because he is “old” is totally unrealistic and out-of-character.

The shame is that Jenna Coleman is a pretty good actress, and Clara, as a companion, is quite likeable. But Steven Moffat didn’t come up with the writing goods for her on this occasion, writing her not as herself, but reducing her to some kind of a one-dimensional cypher, a dig at and representation of fans who can’t handle regeneration and the replacing of “their” Doctor with a new one. In her defense, I have to say that this is NOT Jenna Coleman’s fault, and the young lady can only deal with the scripts she’s been given.

Another major plot flaw was actually one of the nicest scenes in the entire episode, the phone call from the Matt Smith Doctor on Trenzalore to Clara, said call obviously being made before or during the events of The Time of the Doctor. It’s all very poignant, heart-tugging and well-acted, until you actually stop and think about it, and you realize that it simply couldn’t have happened. It was was a major continuity flub and sloppy writing by Moffat. Nice, emotional, tear-jerking writing, but sloppy and wrong, wrong, WRONG.

MattDoc says to Clara that “the time is getting close”, and “it’s going to be a real whopper” (he’s obviously referring to an “upcoming regeneration”). But remember back to what happened at the end of The Time of the Doctor. The whole crux of the story was that the Doctor was coming to the end of his final incarnation. There weren’t going to BE any more regenerations. As far as MattDoc was concerned, for pretty much the ENTIRE episode, he’d run out of regenerations, and he was going to die. That was the whole point of the story. Which is what would’ve happened if Clara hadn’t begged the Time Lords to save him, as they did right at the end, by popping up at the last minute and giving the Doctor a new cycle of regenerations. So Matt Smith’s Doctor couldn’t have made that phone call. He didn’t know he was going to regenerate before it actually happened. Very sloppy continuity mess-up on Moffat’s part.

Those were my two main gripes, and the rest I can live with. However, one thing I couldn’t complain about was Peter Capaldi’s performance as the new Doctor, which was excellent, top notch. I think he’s going to be an excellent Doctor. For that reason alone, I’ll give Deep Breath a B instead of the C that I thought the fairly average story by itself actually deserved.

Doctor Who is Back! Season 8 Starts TODAY!

Later this evening, in slightly over two hours to be exact, the big event that every Doctor Who fan on the planet has been waiting for happens, when the first episode of Season 8 debuts on BBC1 at 7.50pm.

This first episode, Deep Breath, is a 75-minute feature-length debut to the new season, and is the first of the twelve episodes comprising Season 8 (or Season 34, if you prefer to include the Classic Series along with the New Series, as I do). I know absolutely nothing about this episode or any of the others, as I’ve been taking extreme measures to avoid ANY spoilers on the new season. I know nothing other than the titles of the episodes, and that the last two episodes of the season comprise the two-part Season Finale.

I’ve become totally pissed off in recent years, having each new season ruined by spoilers all over the internet, on TV and in the magazines, so this year it’s been me dodging any kind of spoilers as nimbly as I can. Fingers crossed I can make through today, and indeed all twelve episodes, without having anyone ruin things for me by spilling the beans about upcoming stories before I get to watch them first. God help anyone who does. 🙂

The Season 8 Episode Listing is as follows:

  1. Deep Breath
  2. Into the Dalek
  3. Robot of Sherwood
  4. Listen
  5. Time Heist
  6. The Caretaker
  7. Kill the Moon
  8. Mummy on the Orient Express
  9. Flatline
  10. In the Forest of the Night
  11. Dark Water
  12. Death in Heaven

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the first full appearance of the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, as he steps into the role he has inherited from the absolutely amazing Matt Smith. I’ve always been a huge fan of Matt Smith as the Doctor. He’s been a huge success, and gave us an hilariously funny, zany, eccentric, manic, and sometimes truly alien Doctor persona that reminded me most of Tom Baker (on speed), mixed with a lot of Patrick Troughton, and with some of the best elements of the other Doctors thrown in for good measure.

When you combine all of that with Smith’s own natural hi-energy fun and crazy personality (apparently he’s like that in real life, honest), he created a brilliant new Doctor, one who really convinced me that “he was born for the role”. I absolutely loved him, despite being very apprehensive back when he first took over from David Tennant (whom I also loved). Matt Smith made even the lamest episodes (and there have been a few) FUN to watch, keeping me as a viewer even at times when I thought the series was going a bit stale.

So Peter Capaldi has a lot to live up to, some pretty big shoes to fill there, but I reckon he’ll make a darned good Doctor once he settles in. He’s a very experienced actor, who has been around the acting business for many, many years, and the BBC have never failed yet to pick a good one to fill the new Doctor’s role.

Another thing that I consider a major plus is that Capaldi was also a big fan of the classic series when he was a kid. This love and respect for the classic series might serve him well as he slips into the role of the new Doctor. He was a big fan of the first four Doctors, and watched the show avidly right from the William Hartnell era, right on through to the the middle of Tom Baker’s run on the show. Eerily enough, this mirrors almost exactly my own childhood history with Doctor Who.

Anyway, back to the new season opener tonight. I’m actually really looking forward to this new, older, grumpier, darker Doctor, and to seeing how Peter Capaldi works with the current companion, Clara (played by Jenna Coleman). Roll on this evening, 7.50pm!

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 11)

Here’s the penultimate part of my look back at Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary:

  • The Radio Times Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special
  • The TV Times Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

11. Radio Times 50th Anniversay Special

The Radio Times Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special is a real doozy, with no less than TWELVE variant covers featuring all of the Doctors, including “War Doctor” John Hurt.

There’s also a Steven Moffat article, on set with Tennant, Smith and Hurt, a celebration of 50 Years of Radio Times Doctor Who covers, a detailed overview of all eleven Doctors, and even a competition to win the Doctor’s bow tie. What’s not to like about this? Another nice one.

12. TV Times 50th Anniversay Special

The TV Times had their own 50 Years of Doctor Who Anniversary edition, which was also pretty good, although they didn’t go quite as overboard as the Radio Times, with only four variant Doctor Who covers.

There is a nice Classic Companions piece, interviewing Peter Purves (Steven) and Frazer Hines (Jamie), plus a mini-review of The Day of the Doctor. But the main piece of the Doctor Who anniversary is the five-page 50 Years of Doctor Who Special celebration, which includes interviews with not only David Tennant and Matt Smith, but also Tom Baker and Peter Davison.

However, my absolute favourite was the A Brief History of Time (Lords) timeline, which runs along the bottom of the entire five pages of the main 50 Years of Doctor Who Special section. Anyone who knows me knows how much I like my timelines. Lovely.

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 4)

In my last post, I discussed the Doctor Who contents of the 50th Anniversary editions of both the Radio Times and the TV Times, and both magazines have pulled out all the stops for the 50th Anniversary. But when it comes to the magazines, nothing beats Doctor Who Magazine.

The November 50th Anniversary edition of Doctor Who Magazine is an extra-special bumper 116-page souvenir special issue, and comes inside a lovely hard-card “envelope”, with lots of nice stuff both on back and front. The magazine itself is full of tasty anniversary articles and interviews, including:

  • A massive preview of the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor
  • Ghosts in the Machine, a behind the scenes feature on the prestigious An Adventure in Space and Time drama
  • An Unearthly Beginning, featuring never-before-seen drafts of An Unearthly Child
  • The Wonder of Who – what is the secret of Doctor Who’s appeal?
  • Who Was Anthony Coburn? Part 1
  • The Fact of Fiction – The Five Doctors a detailed examination of the 20th Anniversary adventure
  • The Watcher’s Guide to Anniversaries
  • The Watcher’s 50th Anniversary Quiz
  • Interviews with Matt Smith and David Tennant, Jenna-Louise Coleman (on how Clara coped with three Doctors) and Mary Peach (Enemy of the World)
  • Reviews of Enemy of the World, The Web of Fear, The Complete Seventh Series, and various new releases on the books and audio drama front
  • A nice comic strip John Smith and the Common Men
  • Plus all the usual regular stuff that DWM gives us each and every month.

There are also some nice extras inside, in addition to the magazine. There’s a very nice twelve-card series of collectable art cards featuring all twelve Doctors (Peter Capaldi is in there as well). And we’ve also got a special mini-magazine, a gorgeous little A5 1960s-themed “mini issue” of Doctor Who Magazine (dated November 1964. Only 2d!), with a really nice “Dalek on Westminster Bridge” cover.

This November 50th Anniversary issue of DWM is a real cracker, one of the best, ever. I’d advise all Doctor Who fans to snap up a copy while they still can.

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 3)

With the Radio Times celebrating Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, with no less than TWELVE variant covers, the TV Times also got in on the act with their own 50 Years of Doctor Who Anniversary edition for the week of 23rd-29th November, with four variant Doctor Who covers. I have the 1963-1969 Cover #1, featuring Hartnell and Troughton, plus companions Jamie, Zoe, Steven and Dodo, and a selection of the favourite b&w era monsters. A very nice cover, although it’s strange that all the background companions and monsters are Troughton-era. There’s nothing from the Hartnell era, except the First Doctor himself, and maybe the Daleks, as they were from both eras.

Inside the magazine, we have:

  • A mini-review of The Day of the Doctor
  • A five-page 50 Years of Doctor Who Special celebration, A Very Special Birthday. This is a nice one, and includes an interview with David Tennant and Matt Smith, and interviews with Tom Baker (the 1970s) and Peter Davison (the 1980s)
  • There’s also a Classic Companions piece, featuring interviews with Peter Purves (Steven) and Frazer Hines (Jamie)
  • And to crown it all, there’s A Brief History of Time (Lords), a very nice timeline running along the bottom of the entire five-page feature, starting with An Unearthly Child in 1963, and taking us right up to the 2012 Christmas TV Special, in which the Matt Smith Doctor faces off against the Great Intelligence, in the shape of Richard E. Grant

Overall, a pretty good Doctor Who 50th Anniversary edition. It’s well worth grabbing at least one copy of this one.

To Be Continued…

Doctor Who: 50 Years in Space & Time (Part 2)

Last time out, I talked about what TV has been dishing up for us to celebrate our favourite Time Lord’s 50th birthday. This time, I’m having a look at what’s been happening on the magazine front. In this first part, I’ll be looking at the Radio Times.

The November 23rd-29th edition of the Radio Times is a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, with no less than twelve variant covers, each one featuring a different Doctor (including the “War Doctor” John Hurt, which is why there are twelve covers, not eleven). So far, I’ve got the Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee and Tom Baker covers, and to be honest, that’s enough.

I honestly think it’s going a bit overboard trying to collect all twelve covers, unless you’re a reseller wanting to make a big profit, or a hardcore, dedicated fan or collector, who simply has to have every cover. I’ve always been a huge fan of the first four Doctors, so I’ve decided just to collect only the magazines with the covers of those four Doctors.

Inside the magazine itself, we’ve got:

  • A golden celebration of Radio Times Doctor Who covers, with fifty covers for all fifty years
  • A Steven Moffat article You Can’t Destroy the Doctor
  • On set with the Three Doctors (Smith, Tennant and Hurt)
  • A detailed overview of all eleven Doctors
  • And, finally, a competition to win the Doctor’s bow tie

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget that this issue is also interactive, if you happen to have an Apple or Android smartphone. Which I don’t. Life is so unfair! 🙁

This one is worth grabbing at least one copy of.

To Be Continued…