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Deep Breath Spoiler-Free Review

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Note: While this review refrains from mentioning plot specifics, read on at your discretion.

Eight months after we saw Peter Capaldi question the colour of his kidneys, Deep Breath is almost upon us (just 24 hours to be precise). We’ll waste no time with fancy introductions and cut straight to the chase: yes, we can confidently now proclaim that Capaldi is definitely the Doctor. But this is assuredly a new, volatile and more dangerous Time Lord. Capaldi is riveting to watch from the word go.

The Doctor starts the episode in a typical post-regenerative fashion as he stumbles out of the TARDIS in a barmy scene that echoes The Christmas Invasion. Yes, for the first third of the episode it’s fair to say the Doctor has lost his marbles a tad! This leads him on a journey of self-discovery involving a lonely T-rex, horses and the homeless (a hilarious moment featuring a nice cameo). It’s not until the mid-point and Steven Moffat’s publicised ‘dining scene’ where the episode and Capaldi really start to come into their own.

Comparisons to previous Doctors are inevitable. It’s easy to see shades of classic Doctors like Hartnell, Pertwee, and the Bakers (yes both of them, and the latter in a good way) but Capaldi is definitely his own Doctor and shows as much range as a seasoned actor should. Much has been made of his incarnation being ‘darker’ and by the conclusion and one sure-to-be-debated scene you definitely feel he is not a Time Lord to be trifled with. Yet there’s still a warmer, more vulnerable side, it’s just more hidden and harder to access than it was before. There’s also a decent amount of humour, most of it coming from the Doctor and Clara’s bickering!

It would be premature to say you feel you have an exact handle on Capaldi’s Doctor by the end of Deep Breath, but that’s part of the fun. There’s still plenty to be learnt about Capaldi and it is definitely going to be a very interesting journey to see how he develops over the course of the series.

Of course as much as the episode is about Capaldi’s Doctor, there’s a strong focus on Clara and how she is reacting to the mad man in the box she thought she once knew. There’s a portion of fans that won’t quite feel comfortable with this new person claiming to be the Doctor and Moffat knows this all to well and projects this on to Clara. It means we get to see Jenna Coleman go through a wide range of emotions and she pulls it all off with aplomb. It’s no Moffat lie to say Capaldi brings out some of the best in Clara we’ve seen. Other standout scenes include one where Clara enters a verbal joust with Madame Vastra and another when she’s placed in a particularly deadly monster confrontation.

Speaking of the monsters, the darker nature extends to these too. While Doctor Who is still obviously a family show for BBC One and violence can’t be dwelled on, there are some grotesque themes here that are far from ‘family’ (which could explain the slightly later timeslot). Guest star Peter Ferdinando plays the lead villain, the Half-Face ‘Man’, and he is a creepy counter to Capaldi. The best thing is that the villains actually feel a bit more threatening and are given more screen time.

Series 7 was criticised for having some pacing issues. Some stories moved along so fast there was little time to breathe and endings could feel rushed. Thankfully, Deep Breath’s extended run time obviously affords more time for quieter moments and character development. It remains to be seen how subsequent episodes will hold up with the regular 45-ish-minute slots. Why can’t Doctor Who have at least an hour every week?

Bringing acclaimed film director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) on board was a wise move. He gives the episode some very unique and striking visual shots. There’s an eerie, unsettling atmosphere running throughout this version of Victorian London. The direction is complemented by Murray Gold’s score. While pieces like Clara’s Theme are present and correct, there are several new arrangements. At this stage it’s hard to tell if any of the newer tracks will develop into Capaldi’s own theme.

For all the praise, Deep Breath isn’t perfect. The first third feels a little mixed in terms of tone and perhaps it takes more time than necessary for the central plot to kick in. But this is very much a character episode so that’s probably understandable. Other issues will probably come down to your tolerance of the Paternoster gang. If you’ve grown tired of Strax’s comic antics there is little to change your mind here. He feels a bit out of place with the tone of the episode, but is largely kept to side scenes. Jenny and Vastra get more screen time and are far more tolerable, but again it’s hard not to feel that they all should have been confined to Matt Smith’s era.

To conclude, while it’s a strong opener, it’s not quite as accomplished as Steven Moffat’s previous Doctor debut, The Eleventh Hour. But coming second to that is little to complain about. Deep Breath leaves fans wanting to see plenty more of Capaldi, and that’s the most important part.

8/10

No spoilers in the comments please!

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149 comments
conallmc2013
conallmc2013

I disagree with the rating system in these episodes, 8/10? Don't get me wrong it was a descent episode average or slightly greater in my opinion i.e 5-7 (at a push)/10. I think they get carried away sometimes, this rating suggesting that it was one of the best episodes ever. 

MJJ
MJJ

In my not so humble opinion, Deep Breath equals Smith Doctor's Eleventh Hour as one of the best new Doctor first episodes. They even have a scene in which the Doctor shows you just how much of a badass he can be. Scotch, anyone? ;)



the lord of time
the lord of time

I thought it was really unnecessary to have Clara say "you've redecorated I don't like it." I also wasn't impressed by the new opening; although I believed the opening song to be admirable, since it sounds similar to the music used during the later years of Tom Baker until the series's cancellation mixed with the newer music, with a few added touches. I personally thought The Eleventh Hour was a better debut. I was amused, though, when the Doctor said he had grown past wearing a long scarf. I enjoyed Matt Smith's cameo, I thought it was clever. Overall I thought Peter Capaldi played the Doctor very well and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.

Moreroundthings
Moreroundthings

Dear Editor Great review. Just re-watched it for the third time. In your Rate this Episode verdict scoring says "Breathtaking"= 10/10! And on that basis, even with the detractor points you highlight I think your 8/10 is a bit harsh...because it was breathtaking!

cheese32011
cheese32011

Will there be a coming soon trailer at the end.




LlamaWho
LlamaWho

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks it's not perfect! When I watched it at the premiere a few weeks who, although I do live the episode, me and my friend both agreed that it could have been better...

Also we struggled to understand Capaldi for a lot of his dialogue so be a proper Whovian and make everyone watch it in silence!

KristineAz1
KristineAz1

The first third of the episode made very nervous.  I didn't like Clara's behavior at all.  It was like she was totally clueless, that she suddenly wasn't the girl who knew every single Doctor, etc.  As if everything was completely new.  I found it insulting.  Frankly, I'll be glad when she leaves in December.  She always came off as too entitled, like the Doctor should be bowing down to her.  I was looking forward to Capaldi taking over and I think he will be very interesting.  Absolutely see shades of past Doctors.  All in all, by the end, I did tear up a bit.  I look forward to seeing the reaction of others!








NineTenElevenTwelve
NineTenElevenTwelve

I can't wait to see this episode tomorrow! I'm really looking forward to seeing how Clara and Capaldi's Doctor bounce off each other and I'm also looking forward to seeing the Paternoster Gang again. I've enjoyed all of their appearances thus far (though I'll admit that the jokes with Strax have gotten a bit old) and I think it's about time they got their own spin-off.





Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

It sounds good I cant wait to see it tommorrow and see Peter in action he will be a great doctor I am sure

MetalPotatoAlex
MetalPotatoAlex

I'm really starting to feel with the Paternoster Gang that they have got to either a) have a whole episode to themselves, or b) finally get at least a one-of spin-off.


Keeping them as side characters in Doctor Who never allows them to have the depth and development they deserve. They have massive potential as characters in their own right, but they're only going to get stale if they're kept in the Doctor's shadow. The Crimson Horror was billed as their big 'solo outing' but if anything they recieved less development there than in any other episode. They need breathing room.


Does Strax ever long to return to Sontar? Has Jenny ever made any attempt to reconnect with her family? How does Vastra approach a full case from start to finish? It's all stuff we're never going to see properly in DW itself, and so instead we'll get the same jokes from Strax, and the same brief - admittedly adorable - moments with Vastra and Jenny.


They need a chance to shine properly before they really do become overused and boring.

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

A very agreeable (p)review; I'd personally contest that Deep Breath even out-performs The Eleventh Hour, though. The latter is a much simpler, neater episode and made a very clean and welcoming jumping-on point for new viewers (or those who were still pensive about anyone replacing Tennant), so if that's what the author is trying to construe, then perhaps he's correct. In terms of the overall quality of the episode - plot, pacing, dialogue, development, etc - I think Deep Breath really hits all the right nails and probably makes for a better general opening episode. That's not to say it does any disservice to Capaldi's debut, mind you, but it's a more complex episode and probably not the one you'd show a first-time viewer, simply because of all the bits you'd inevitably end up having to explain. On the other hand, for regular viewers who are eager to be thrown straight back into the thick of the action without first sitting through a lighter, almost re-introductory episode, this one's a real humdinger. I suppose it comes down to what you want out of an episode really, but in my mind Deep Breath is probably the best opener yet. It does every bit as much to set the stage for a new Doctor as Rose, The Christmas Invasion or The Eleventh Hour, but retains the thrill factor and 'straight back to business' vibe of more action-heavy openers such as The Impossible Astronaut or Asylum of the Daleks. I think the gist of what I'm trying to get across here is that this episode doesn't feel like it was designed the way that other recent Doctor debuts have been - it seems less about trying to attract potential new audiences or gently ease in hesitant fans, and more about throwing us straight back into the thick of the show we came to see.


twoheartsonemind
twoheartsonemind

Having seen the episode in New York, I disagree about the episode's tone and I am quite a fan of the Paternoster Gang; this episode proved to me, once again, that they really could have their own show and I felt Strax was used a perfect amount with Vastra and Jenny getting some wonderful scenes; both of their characters get fleshed out a bit more. Of course the best parts of the episode were Clara and the Doctor, who both got to show such emotional ranges and their chemistry is really something. 9/10 for me. A wonderful start to the series.

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

My only regret is that we never got one of those awesome movie posters for this episode.

microbat98
microbat98

7B didn't sit well with me at all, being the only series in the entirety of Doctor Who that I haven't liked at all. The fact that this episode has breathing room, focuses on characters (my favourite thing about any show) instead of full story with no room for development, and is generally longer, gives me lots of hope. I'm just sad that Eleven's send of series was my least favourite so far, given that he's my favourite Doctor. Ah well, I'll always have his first two and a half series!

CrAzyLAdy12
CrAzyLAdy12

I'm so excited for this episode but I feel if they don't try to do something new with the Paternoster gang soon, I can see myself growing very tired of them. For example, why not do a story where Strax has the option between rejoining the Sontaran race or stay in Victorian London, because to be honest he's grown very old. He's basically the same joke over and over again. I like Vastra and Jenny more but I'd like to see a different side to them than we have seen the whole time. Other than that, yay "Deep Breath"!

FreddieC
FreddieC

Will there be a spoiler containing client hassle review? I think they are great!

DasManiac
DasManiac

"While Doctor Who is still obviously a family show for BBC One and violence can’t be dwelled on". Well there goes my interest in this season. I don't why know why the show can't just go full adult. Adults are the ones watching it.

DWTV
DWTV moderator

@conallmc2013 You appear to have a different definition of 8/10 than most. Equally did you actually read it or just look at the score? No where did it suggest it was "one of the best ever". There's a whole paragraph on criticisms beginning with "For all the praise, Deep Breath isn’t perfect..."



DWTV
DWTV moderator

@cheese32011 Nope, just a "next time" for Into the Dalek. 

IrelandMichael
IrelandMichael

That's the thing. Everything is new.

It's easy to have seen him in the past. It's quite another to actually witness the person you knew change into someone completely different right before your eyes.

conallmc2013
conallmc2013

@MetalPotatoAlex a dangerous prospect, when a spin off goes bad it goes bad... yet what we've seen recently so far is success in torchwood and sarah Jane namely. Personally I would encourage it- Strax more than any other character in any show needs character development. He is a clown at the moment and he needs to reignite the respect of the viewers for his entire race. Comedy is okay but it has come to define himself and the sontaran clones (e.g the time of the doctor)

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

I don't know whether it'd be satisfactory enough for those who really do want to see more Paternoster Gang, but I've been wondering why they haven't expanded upon them in minisodes. 1 - Moffat likes doing them. 2 - They can presumably budget for it, as they have done in the past. 3 - The sort of scenarios you describe are, IMHO, better suited to short stories than long episodes. 4 - If there's any inclination at all within the BBC to consider a full spin-off, a short run of minisodes would be the perfect way to gauge the reception and response. It makes sense to me. Personally, I'm not fussed for them in the slightest, but if there's enough call for them, then I think minisodes make perfect sense, even if (as I personally suspect) a full series isn't entirely viable. 

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

@MetalPotatoAlex I think your right maybe there should be a spinoff for them so they can be better than they are at the moment. I would like Strax to want to visit his people it might be very funny. I am sure Jenny has family, surely they want contact if they dont that could be interesting too, and in Victorian times they were a bit straight laced

Scootersfood
Scootersfood

@CrAzyLAdy12 I agree with the Strax things. I would LOBE and episode where he has to choose between his clone family and his Paternoster family. A Silurian episode with Vastra would also be quite entertaining

TardisBoy
TardisBoy

It's well above average and just 2 marks away from full marks, I don't see how that is low at all? It's a very fair score - and obviously justified from their review. 


DWTV
DWTV moderator

Yes.


conallmc2013
conallmc2013

@DasManiac kids founded doctor who's popularity and will always a great demographic to continue to do so.

Greempa
Greempa

@DasManiac Doctor Who is my 7 year old Grandson's favorite show. On his last birthday he wanted  a Doctor Who themed birthday party. He still likes to dress like the Doctor, complete with tweed jacket, bow tie and his trusty sonic screwdriver. (Check my Avatar ... that's him.)

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

 How can anyone not yet understand that Doctor Who can only sustain itself, being the behemoth that it is, by being as inclusive as possible and welcoming all manner of viewer? If it only targeted itself as children, or only targeted itself at adults, or at males, or at females, or at hardcore fans, or at casual viewers, it simply couldn't go on. It's a huge show with a huge budget that needs a huge audience to justify itself. Cutting itself off from potential audiences is suicidal. And that's to completely ignore the fact that it'd go against 51 years of history and legacy.


Seaborn W Deadman
Seaborn W Deadman

I actually think the largest portion of the audience these days are teens, just for the record...I actually would like some of the darker sides of the show to be explored a bit more, Doctor Who was originally considered pretty violent for family television and I don't see why they shouldn't push the limits a bit more these days. I don't want a "dark" Doctor Who, but it could use a bit more chill factor especially with the daleks these days. Kids can handle a lot more than they're given credit for. However, I wouldn't want Doctor Who to lose its light, funny moments. Those played an enormous factor in endearing me personally to the show, especially in Matt's era. The best part about Doctor Who is that it has always been something the whole family can enjoy. It's a show adults can watch and feel like a kid again, and it's a show kids can watch and gain a little more of an adult understanding on many aspects of life.


andyot7777
andyot7777

@DasManiac Doctor Who was a show made for kids in the 1960s. Its biggest demographic remains, to this day, kids. Yes, yes, I know there are lots and lots of adults and such watching it too, but the point is, it's a show made for kids. To completely ignore the larger part of its demographic would be ratings suicide.

microbat98
microbat98

I grew up with Doctor Who. Started in 2005 when I was seven and am now sixteen. I watched it. And went back to the Classics when I was younger. Depriving me of that would be depriving me of a lot of my child hood and my role model.

Scootersfood
Scootersfood

@DasManiac One of my favorite things about the show is that it is for everyone. It should never be exclusive to one age group. If you want a more adult show watch Torchwood.

bringmeknitting
bringmeknitting

@DasManiac Please tell me you're joking. Did you not see all the children at the Doctor Who Prom? My nieces and nephews all watch it and they're aged between six and fourteen. It's a family show, always has been and I sincerely hope always will be. 

tombaker64
tombaker64

@DasManiac It is a family show, always has been a family show and will continue to be a family show for as long as it continues to be on air.

FreddieC
FreddieC

The transition would be difficult. I love this show says a 7 year old, next year it becomes torchwood. Poor 8 year old (yes happy birthday lalala) but no show for him to watch especially if ther is a Moffat clifhanng

Antee991166
Antee991166

@DasManiac  Even during arguably the most "adult" period of the show (1981-85), the script editor Eric Saward said Doctor Who should be able to entertain both adults and children.

supermoff is alone. Listen...
supermoff is alone. Listen...

@DasManiac This again? Doctor Who is a show for everyone. It has never been an exclusively adult show and never will be, and kids remain an enormous proportion of the audience. 

LGwalchmai95
LGwalchmai95

@DasManiac Tell that to my friends five year old daughter! Doctor Who is a popular show with kids. I get that you personally would like the show to go more adult, and that's fine, everyone has their own ideas for how they'd like the show to be. But to just dismiss a part of the show's fanbase is a bit of a ridiculous way to get your preferences across. You, and many others, may want the show to be more adult, and to alienate the kids that do watch it, but like it or lump it, kids do watch the show, and Doctor Who is a family show, so children will be taken into account. It appears that this series is darker anyway. I'm sad to hear your interest is dwindling, but I hope you can give it a chance. It could surprise you :)

 Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

@DasManiac I'm getting deja vu, alot kids do watch doctor who it's a family show. I don't see why it should go full adult.

TardisBoy
TardisBoy

"Adults are the ones watching it." - As are children, who have always been a significant part of the audience that watch the show, and DW always has, and always will be, a family show. There's plenty of other shows out there that can satisfy your thirst for violence, try Game of Thrones! :P

DrunkenDalek
DrunkenDalek

Just because you watch it doesn't mean that only your generation watch it, I know loads of kids that love doctor who, so no it's not that adults are the ONLY ones watching it.

conallmc2013
conallmc2013

@DWTV @conallmc2013 it was never the content of the article which was an issue- it was well written. However my point (which I fear I had not fully suggested) is that the episodes are overrated in a n/10 rating system. Here are examples based on series 6:


  • 
‘A Christmas Carol’ – 10/10
  • ‘Time/Space’ – 10/10
  • 
‘The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon’ – 10/10
  • ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’ – 7/10
  • ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ – 10/10
  • ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People’ – 9/10
  • ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ – 10/10
  • 
‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ – 7/10
  • 
‘Night Terrors’ – 8/10
  • ‘The Girl Who Waited’ – 10/10
  • 
‘The God Complex’ – 10/10
  • 
‘Closing Time’ – 6/10
  • 
‘The Wedding of River Song’ – 10/10

Now they suggest  that 8 of those episodes were perfect which I cannot stomach as they are not all perfect, there are stunning episodes in that list that are just that bit better than others to be ranked higher. I just feel that the content of the articles are good- of that there is no doubt- I think though that there should be more variation. No harsh criticism as it were only constructive intent. I apologise if I came across otherwise. To truly make a benchmark there needs to be more variation in ratings.



microbat98
microbat98

No series trailer for the first half then? That's a shame; I've always loved that.

microbat98
microbat98

Subjectivity. It's all a matter of opinion. I try to look at it through the eyes of others who enjoy it, but I simply cannot.

deleted_58267194_ohjanetoh
deleted_58267194_ohjanetoh

Having some darkness is great because it exposes more of the Doctor's inner self (Goodman goes to war), but I wouldn't want Moffat to go over board with it.

Exxilon5
Exxilon5

@Antee991166 @DasManiac That's the most adult period of the show and still a lot the episodes are classified as U by the BBFC. You wouldn't find an episode of Game of Thrones or The Inbetweeners passed as U, would you? Looking at my DVDs, there's no Doctor Who over a 12, so it's definitely a family show... For now at least.

camelot55555
camelot55555

@TardisBoy I am a child myself, and I'm absolutely OBSESSED with Doctor who, and if it went into full adult mode it would probably turn into a bunch of rubbish. I'm actually pretty worried it's going to become to dark, because then I'd be banned from it and cry for the next millenia!! :(


microbat98
microbat98

8/10 certainly isn't perfect, though. I see it as:

0/10 - Silly goose, 0 would mean no production, and so the product itself would not exist!

1/10 - Absolutely awful; watching is a chore.

2/10 - Terrible; hard to watch but some, very few, enjoyable themes.

3/10 - Bad; watchable yet not a truly enjoyable experience.

4/10 - Below average; could be on and off or fairly dull, but leans towards being more bad than good.

5/10 - Average; average production that weighs a perfect balance of what it is, whether it be the bad scenes weighing the good or just nothing to it.

6/10 - Above average; could be on and off or fairly dull, but leans towards being more good than bad.

7/10 - Good; a good production that is enjoyable to watch, but still far from perfect and has issues.

8/10 - Great; not perfect by a long shot again, but very enjoyable and the issues can be easily ignored.

9/10 - Amazing; a nigh perfect production, only a few issues get in the way of it being perfect by its own right as an episode.

10/10 - Perfect; not for television as a whole, but perfect for what it strives to achieve in its own right. Hits everything it needs to with no issues.

So I agree that ratings are too easily given, but an 8/10 is far from one of the greatest stories in the show. Hope you enjoyed this, 'coz it took a while to type out.

DWTV
DWTV moderator

You are quoting a feature article with John Hussey's scores there. Different reviewers, different opinions.



DWTV
DWTV moderator

@microbat98 Nothing to stop the BBC releasing one after though.

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