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Who Dat?

I don't know if most of the fandom would agree, but I really didn't like the debut of the eighth series of "Doctor Who."



The 12th Doctor, at long last, made his official debut: Peter Capaldi regenerated within the TARDIS at the end of the previous episode, and popped his head out for the very first time (to our eyes) during "Deep Breath," as an oversized Tyrannosaurus Rex turned up in Victorian London's Thames. That was convenient, as it lets us get some interplay with Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax to help us along into the world, the style and the personality of this new incarnation.

The problems I had with the episode were really surprising to me, given the history that the show has carefully crafted. The first issue I had was the age one: Capaldi being much older than Matt Smith (the youngest actor to ever play the role), really was far too much a focus. It felt like a lot of the episode was talking about how he was old, and whether Clara was romantically attracted to 11, and other nonsensical stuff that probably shouldn't have been a part of the episode. Clara, we were shown, was there for every version of The Doctor throughout his adventures, so why any issues about The Doctor's appearance and Clara's attraction to him were misplaced, I thought.

I also felt the comedy was extremely forced and laughably, not very funny, including the "Hindenburg" sight gag with our time-traveling T Rex, and Strax delivering the newspaper to Clara. Truth be told, I expected Capaldi's Doctor to be a little more serious, a little more focused, and a lot more in control from the start. I understand they want to provide a "transition" period between Smith's 11 and Capaldi's 12, but I hope this doesn't go on too long, because what I viewed in "Deep Breath" wasn't working at all.

It's important to note that Steven Moffat wrote this episode, which made it seem that much more curious to me. How could he have missed these simple details so badly, and why was he focusing on what I thought, were all the wrong things?

I did feel Capaldi was doing well when he got up to speed. Jenna Coleman was as per usual, and it was nice to have the Paternoster Gang around to keep things a little more familiar. The story itself made me wonder just how many demented folks were out and about during that era, as I think back to Diana Rigg's Mrs. Gillyflower from "The Crimson Horror" episode, last year. But, the topper: I really thought having Matt Smith turn up was extremely bad form. It's not like we have to get weaned off of 11, and I felt like that was a dopey stunt that upstaged 12, or, at the very least, caused us to rethink the history of Clara and 11, which really shouldn't be done.

So, while I am glad the programme has returned, and that Capaldi is finally on, I wish they handled it all very differently.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
packgrog
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:29 pm (UTC)
Huh, didn't know you watched! Fun! I've been a LOOOOONG time fan. I think I started watching in earnest in '85 or '86. So even as the show goes through phases of being basically crap, I still can't give up on it.

I liked the Smith cameo, largely because I love them ALL, and because it was so unexpected. Was it necessary? Did it undercut Capaldi's introduction? Eh. It may have helped the younger viewers adjust to some ambiguous nastiness from the new Doctor, and may have been an attempt to avoid the Colin Curse, where the 6th Doctor basically made himself instantly unliked with being kind of a dick straight out of the gate.

But the whole episode could have worked better. The Paternoster Gang needs to just stop. They are a collection of one-note, borderline offensive jokes and terrible attempts at Big Important Moments that actually suck under scrutiny (the veil bit annoyed the shit out of me). I love the actors, but the writing is atrocious. So much of this story was a complete waste, and nearly every moment with TPG was a distraction.

Apart from the enjoyment of seeing Smith again, even if unnecessarily, my other favorite moments were, again, this new Doctor's ambiguous darkness (Yay! Mystery is back! He may be a Hartnell/McCoy level of consciously manipulative dick again!), and the quality of the acting. The script sucked, but how Capaldi and Coleman handled what they were given was admirable. It seems so weird to praise Doctor Who of all shows for the acting, but their comedic timing together worked beautifully.

If only this story weren't such an incoherent mess. At least I can enjoy the actors, though.
penpusher
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:47 pm (UTC)
I was a kid when I stumbled across my first Doctor Who episodes, shown on one of the PBS stations here, locally. Though I didn't get caught up in them as I did with say "The Twilight Zone" or "Star Trek" (probably because they didn't have all the episodes), I liked what I saw mostly.

I don't want to be too harsh about Smith turning back up, but it just seemed to be a "cater to the Fans of 11" moment rather than something necessary. Will there be other calls from 11 in future? ("Clara, I'm sorry, but this is just my way of staying young to you!")

Yeah, the Vastra Veil stuff is rather ridiculous. Those characters can be really great if used properly.

The fact that 12 seems to be a mystery unto himself ("I'm Scottish! That means I can complain about things!") is fodder for some potentially interesting directions for the character.

Just don't let Moffat write anymore.
packgrog
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:32 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, the bit about Clara having issues with his age also annoyed the shit out of me. She effectively knew ALL of his faces, so this one bit was really irritating for me. Why would she be upset about THAT, unless it's purely a plot device (again) for her to be the audience entry. Bleah.
penpusher
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:52 pm (UTC)
It wasn't just a waste of time, it was a waste of character development! The audience did see those previous episodes, so the characters acting the way they did here made no sense in the context of what we, as the viewers, already knew.

I think there was a concept of Clara and 11 having a romantic relationship. Certainly 11 doted on Clara in a way that we haven't quite seen since 10 did with Rose. Now with 12 in place, I guess they wanted to address that element. But again, it was handled so badly! There was no rush to point out those issues in this first episode. That could have come out over the entire series in subtler and more natural ways.

This ep really felt more like bad fan fic, tbh.
pen_grunt
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:47 pm (UTC)
It's extremely interesting (read:frustrating) to me that with the transition from 9 to 10--where there actually WAS a romantic subplot with Rose--it was less of an issue than the hemming and hawing over this transition. I have not enough eyerolls for Steven Moffat and how he treats women in relation to The Doctor. Not. Enough. Eyerolls.
penpusher
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
No, you're absolutely right. I give Moffat too much credit for being aware of what he's doing, and you're right about his approach to women. Personally, I had hoped that Clara would have become the 12th Doctor, which shows you where I wanted the show to go!

Bad enough that he's Exec Producing and showrunning. Moffat needs to be kept out of the writer's room!
pen_grunt
Aug. 25th, 2014 04:09 pm (UTC)
Agreed.

I'm so fed up with it that I'd REALLY like to see just a male companion for a while. I'm very sick of the "women just fall at The Doctor's feet" conceit.

I wouldn't have minded Clara becoming the 12th Doctor, though. I really loved the potential of her character (when, at first, she was Souffle Girl, and then she was a mysteriously echoed character who didn't take crap from The Doctor). She went from plucky and interesting to paper doll cut-out companion.
penpusher
Aug. 25th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
We are apparently getting a male companion, I read. And it seems like he might wind up being a BF for Clara, which probably defeats the purpose you would have wanted!

It really shouldn't be that difficult writing a well-rounded female character... unless you somehow think that's impossible girl.
pen_grunt
Aug. 25th, 2014 04:55 pm (UTC)
And it seems like he might wind up being a BF for Clara, which probably defeats the purpose you would have wanted!

Women! We can't be interesting without love interests! ;)
kehlen_crow
Aug. 25th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday!
penpusher
Aug. 25th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks!!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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