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12 Spoiler-Free Thoughts on Deep Breath

Guest contributor Paddy O’Meara offers some spoiler-free thoughts on the Series 8 premiere.

capaldi-chalkboard-2014

The wait is almost over. Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is heading ever nearer to our TV screens – and, at the time of writing, two lucky audiences have seen the first episode at the World Tour events in London and Cardiff.

What lies in store for the viewing public on August 23rd? We have heard the Doctor, in the series trailer, asking whether he is “a good man” – but is Capaldi a good Doctor? How does Deep Breath hold up? Fresh from my viewing on the big screen in Cardiff, I offer twelve spoiler-free thoughts on the Series 8 premiere.

  1. Much of what I expect from a regeneration episode was there – but “Deep Breath” doesn’t feel like a re-hash of what we have seen before. It is a different take on a familiar subject, rather than The Eleventh Hour Mark 2.
  2. The “blockbuster of the week” feel already seems to have gone. There is some excellent CGI and some great action sequences but overall the episode felt more like a character piece than an adrenaline-packed thrill ride.
  3. Capaldi’s Doctor is markedly different to Smith’s – complex, layered – and certainly darker, although there are lighter moments there too.
  4. Speaking of adding layers, Clara’s character seems to be much more developed in this episode – and Jenna Coleman puts in a fine performance.
  5. The Paternoster Gang are put to good use in this episode, particularly Vastra, who provides a much-needed alien perspective to Clara’s very human reactions.
  6. The monsters are very creepy – and I thought they were used well, while clearly the secondary plot the monsters and their plans do not feel rushed or overlooked.
  7. Clara is very much our audience surrogate, and a lot of her questions feel like reading the comments on sites like this… her answers are surprising, though, and leave me feeling optimistic about her character.
  8. Peter Capaldi is absolutely marvellous, and I can’t wait to see how his Doctor develops. This episode leaves us with many questions on that front.
  9. The Doctor feels like more of a mystery now. We rely on other characters to tell us how he might be feeling.
  10. I particularly enjoyed how Capaldi’s age and Scottishness were handled within the episode – acknowledged, addressed, but not made any more of than they should be.
  11. I could definitely feel the “darker” tone to this episode – particularly a potentially controversial scene towards the end, but it didn’t feel TOO dark. It does have Strax appearing, after all!
  12. I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, and from the crowd’s cheers and standing ovation I think it’ll go down well. Can’t wait to watch it again on the 23rd.

No spoilers in the comments please!

Step back in time...

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123 comments
Noybusiness
Noybusiness

"The Doctor feels like more of a mystery now. We rely on other characters to tell us how he might be feeling."

That's what I anticipated, and I like the sound of it. It's still Doctor Who but a different era of Doctor Who. A bit more like some of the classic Doctors in that respect, but with the greater story possibilities of the 21s century.

Angie Whodini escapes from under the bed
Angie Whodini escapes from under the bed

This are incredibly good spoiler-free comments imo. Congrats. And well, I think I'm already at the point where I can't process my expectation anymore... how do I survive until the 23?

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

"The “blockbuster of the week” feel already seems to have gone." Thank god. I disliked that aspect. Hopefully it doesn't return.



Dick Taid
Dick Taid

Sounds great. What about the soundtrack/score/12th Doctor's theme?

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

I'm more happy about Clara receiving more attention in Deep Breath. I've read another spoiler-free review and they claimed the episode was just as much focused on Clara as it is on the Doctor. Can't wait to see it!!

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

OK. Sounds pretty good. But I doubt it's going to be flawless. As brilliant as Eleventh Hour was, it had some problems in terms of plot.

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

I'm glad they didn't rehash The Eleventh Hour. It's a fantastic Doctor introduction, but Capaldi deserves something different and unique to him, so I'm glad to hear that's what he gets!

Baker Street is scared... LISTEN...
Baker Street is scared... LISTEN...

Thanks for this, I seriously can't wait! Everything just sounds like it's top quality, and Peter sounds like he's a fantastic Doctor! I'm especially glad about the good use of Clara and the Paternoster Gang. Come on August 23rd!

Pockydon
Pockydon

After about a day of thinking and reflecting, Deep Breath is probably one of my favourite series openers, if not my actual favourite. It's brilliantly paced, scary, and showcases the new Doctor in a fantastic way. It's also absolutely hilarious, with a particular scene which I wont spoil (although it does feature a lovely cameo from Liz Sladen's husband), which had the audience in tears of laughter. 

Not only did Deep Breath make me extremely excited for Peter Capaldi, it also quelled some of my doubts about Moffat that have been building recently. The pessimism is gone. BRING ON SERIES 8!

crouchingcarhiddentardis
crouchingcarhiddentardis

Please someone hyperdrive august 23rd. to much hype. may potentualy have enoth adrenalin to build tardis and go there. the episode sounds awsome

MrRazza, Latest Result: Mr Pink is Human
MrRazza, Latest Result: Mr Pink is Human

" but it didn’t feel TOO dark. It does have Strax appearing, after all!"

While I appreciate and definitely want the humorous side of Doctor Who to remain, this does worry me that Strax is once more simply providing comic relief and juxtaposing awkwardly with the rest of the episode... 



Benjamin Bradley
Benjamin Bradley

It'll be interesting to see how this site handles "32 Spoiler Free Thoughts from the 32nd Doctor's Premiere". Also, notice how the premiere is on the 23rd of August, "23" has a familiar ring to it, if only it was in November...

Joe17
Joe17

"Speaking of adding layers, Clara’s character seems to be much more developed in this episode – and Jenna Coleman puts in a fine performance." This makes me vey happy!

WhoLocked
WhoLocked

Nice article - roll on 23rd! I'm still debating if I should get cinema tickets or watch it at home .. hmm!

John Smith the Second
John Smith the Second

That's very nice to hear. I'm sure I'll like Capaldi's Doctor now. My only fear was that he was designed as a second 6th Doctor, which would have been a huge mistake. But now I know he's fine. 

Oh, and by the way, I think Strax really shouldn't be a part of the story at this point. He isn't really funny anymore, and he harms the Sontarans as a whole by making them seem like a joke. If he's permanently removed from the story, the Sontarans may become fearsome enemies once again.  Another option would be to make a Sontaran story where they're actually brutal and cruel. A story where they actually kill people. Many people. Anyway, whatever they do in order to redeem the Sontarans, it should be done as soon as possible, before it's too late.

TardisBoy
TardisBoy

Well this has just made me even more incredibly excited for the 23rd August. From these spoiler-free thoughts and other spoiler-free reviews I've read on the internet this is sounding like it's going to be one of the best post-regeneration episodes of the revival. Everywhere has said that Capaldi is absolutely brilliant in the role which is really great to hear; but they also echo your thoughts that Clara is also on fine form in this episode; and they have an interesting rapport together. I'm glad the Paternoster Gang are more than just background characters and have a lot of importance to the episode and I'm really looking forward to the interactions between Vastra and Clara! The more I hear about this episode, the more my excitement builds and threatens to burst out into the stratosphere and beyond! Thank you ever so much Paddy! I just cannot wait! :D

Don't Blink
Don't Blink

Would you recommend showing this episode to somebody who has never seen Doctor Who before or not?

thedayofthedoctor
thedayofthedoctor

@Angie Whodini you survive my watching lots and lots and lots of previous episodes, then writing lots of fanfic and spending endless hours staring at the ceiling hoping that one day you will here hear the sound of the TARDIS'S brakes wurring in your garden. Amen. :)

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

The music seemed to be less prominent - I don't recall any motifs like "I am the Doctor". It provided a great atmosphere as ever but less of the hummable tunes that you remember afterwards.

That being said I was so focused on the new Doctor and the visual elements that I may have just not been paying enough attention to the music.

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

I wouldn't call it flawless. Very few Who stories are. But it is very, very enjoyable, particularly in terms of the performances of Capaldi and Coleman.

Scootersfood can sense your guilt
Scootersfood can sense your guilt

@Malohkeh I'm usually one of the types of fans that find nearly every episode flawless, but honestly when i first watched Eleventh Hour I hated it. Liked it more and more when I rewatched it, however. 

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

I wouldn't worry too much about that - I've never been a fan of Strax (or the rest of the Paternoster Gang for that matter), but they all outshone themselves in Deep Breath, in my opinion. None of them have undergone any considerable character shift, so I can only attribute this to how they were used in the episode, but Strax in particular didn't feel as jarring, cringe-worthy and out of place to me as he has done in every prior appearance. I get the impression that he's still very much the comic relief of the trio, but that aspect of him seems to have been toned down a fraction in this episode at least. He felt more like he belongs in the show, rather than being tacked-on, which is a tremendous relief given that Moffat clearly has designs for the Paternosters under Capaldi. 

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

I wish Capaldi was the 32nd Doctor, there were many spoiler free thoughts I had to cut out to get down to 12. Although six of those were just excited squealing noises.

DawnTime
DawnTime


Cinema, the atmosphere was amazing for the 50th

Venawesomeo
Venawesomeo

@Yotam I'd quite like to see an episode where Strax was put up against proper Sontarans... it could show him as a kind, bullied outsider and let us connect with him more. Right now he's a little one-dimensional. Lots of promise for him though.

Kathrin Lily Franke
Kathrin Lily Franke

@Yotam Well, as an actor you never seek to imitate what someone else has done. At least not completely, which doesn't exclude the possibility that aspects of your predecessors' performances might inform your choices - especially in a show like this. But Peter has enough experience to do things right, and he's a fan too, which certainly won't hurt...                                                                         I don't agree about the Strax/ Sontarans, though, but we don't have to. I think the fact that we have a more peaceful one, even if he can't completely shake his instincts sometimes, might actually make them more scary, because we have the contrast, in as far as they can be scary looking, as they do, like overgrown potatoes. I actually found them quite funny even in the Stratagem/ Poison Sky double, esp in the scene with Luke where one of them said they were disappointed at not being allowed to fight in the Time War. But I don't think they should overuse the Paternoster Gang either, an episode every now and again is fine, as long as it doesn't happen too often. Now if they got their own spin-off, with an occasional mention/ appearance of the Doctor, it would be another thing.          


TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

Tricky question. Certainly, as a jumping-on point for a whole new set of adventures under a whole new Doctor, it's not a bad place to begin. But at the same time, without trying to say anything spoiler-ish, it's a teensy bit self-referential in spots. It helps you to appreciate and understand the episode if you're familiar with what's come before it, otherwise there are probably some things you'd need to spend your time trying to explain. It's not quite as "clean" a jumping-on point as, say, "Rose" or perhaps "The Eleventh Hour". But it's certainly not the worst place to begin.


LlamaWho
LlamaWho

Having been lucky enough to see the episode in Cardiff yesterday, I think that you could show them the episode but also be ready to explain a lot of questions as there are some quite confusing parts and references back to certain episodes! Just show them it and encourage more people to watch this fantastic programme!

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

Broadly speaking yes. Other than knowledge of who the Paternoster Gang are, there is very little past continuity that would need explaining. Whether it is the BEST one to start with is questionable, but you could do a lot worse.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@Blink42 A new Doctor, with all the hype and publicity around it, is the perfect time to introduce someone, especially if they are familiar with Peter Capaldi!

Kathrin Lily Franke
Kathrin Lily Franke

@Blink42 Well, I haven't seen it yet (obviously), but in my books a new Doctor is always a good point to start/ introduce someone new. It might actually help that this time we keep the companion, unlike the 10/11 regeneration, especially since it's maybe a more special regeneration - after all Clara had a more or less direct hand in it - due to it being a new cycle, than the ones before. Doctor Who: Part Two, if you wish. Of course this doesn't mean that the others aren't important, clearly they are. And there are enough best of clips on youtube you could show them, because clearly you won't have time to get through all of Classic and New Who before the 23.

yolt13
yolt13

@TheIdleIdol I'd say "The Eleventh Hour" would be a better starting point for true first-timers. "Deep Breath" - including the all-important relationship between Clara and the newly regenerated Doctor - relies pretty heavily on the audience having at least a cursory familiarity with the show's recent history. Not a complaint, mind you. "Deep Breath" is a truly brilliant piece of work. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say it's Hinchcliffe-ian in its quality, tone, and atmosphere. But it might not be the best place for someone who doesn't know who Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax are or for someone lacking the frame of reference to fully appreciate the stark contrast between Capaldi's Doctor and his immediate predecessor to make their initial foray into WHO.


Don't Blink
Don't Blink

@mrpaddy1984 Thanks. The only series my friend hasn't watched is series 7 (and the specials after it). Do you think he will understand the episode okay? Can you remember if it spoils any of the plot points from series 7 + the specials after it) or not (in case he wants to go back and view series 7)?

I hope my question is one that can be answered absolutely vaguely with no spoilers...

scifiguy6
scifiguy6

Getting the new Doctor's hummable musicale motif is one of the best parts of a new doctor story. D:

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

No worries! Obviously, your mileage may vary, but I was pleasantly surprised so I'm hopeful that plenty of other Paternoster-skeptics will be too. 

Kathrin Lily Franke
Kathrin Lily Franke

@yolt13 @TheIdleIdol I agree, but given that people also have work and other commitments - getting through all of Matt's episodes before the 23rd might be a bit difficult. So maybe Pond Life, Asylum and the rest of series 7 , though perhaps not the best (I liked it, others didn't), might be another good point... you get the rest of the Ponds and also Clara and the Paternoster Gang and River. And in the two specials you get everyone else who might be important - then you can always read up on stuff on the wiki. 

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

Unless I'm forgetting something, the only actual plot point from series 7 that gets a mention is something fairly small that is explained perfectly within the episode, and isn't something that spoils anything in S7.

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

On the list of bad choices for a first ep that's right next to Name of the Doctor. :-)

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

Fully in agreement with everything you said there. I can take or leave the Paternoster Gang most of the time but you couldn't have had this episode without them.

They're all my favorite Doctor. Blahblah...Listen?
They're all my favorite Doctor. Blahblah...Listen?

@Venawesomeo @John Smith the Second And I will say that I like Strax both because I enjoy him and the potential for his character, (even though the silliness is over the top sometimes) but also because I like the idea of him. The Daleks are one thing, but I, for one, have never been too comfortable with the idea that entire races are evil. It just seems a poor approximation of the world as we know it.  Sometimes the heavily armed, potato-ey monster is out to kill you. And sometimes he's your butler. Life's just like that. You can't always judge by sight. :-)