Review of Deep Breath
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

The new Doctor has officially arrived, and I can release the anticipatory breath. My biggest fear was that Capaldi would not live up to all my expectations. That one, at least, I can put to rest.

As for the remainder of the episode... Well, let's just say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It's a series opener, so we all knew before the list of titles, writers, and directors was released that this was going to be a Moffat story. I had my fingers crossed, but it came out true to form. On my first viewing, I really enjoyed it; certain details niggled at me, but I was able to ignore them and enjoy the ride. On second and later viewings, the flaws started to do more than niggle, and it became ever more difficult to enjoy certain scenes. That, for me, is the classic Moffat signature.

Before I go any further, let me be clear: I thought Capaldi's Twelve was bloody brilliant. I love him already. He was everything I hoped for (with the possible exception of some overly friendly chatting up of a lonely female T. rex), and I can't wait to see more of him.

Clara, however, was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, she really stepped up her game, executing a very Doctor-ly bluff-calling when set against the Half-Face Man (more on that later) and standing up to Vastra. On the other, she—the Impossible Girl, who had saved the Doctor time and again in his many incarnations—couldn't get over the fact that he wasn't the same man anymore. On the whole, I think she came out net positive for me (her improvements outweighing the backsliding), and I'm hoping she continues to grow into a character I could miss.


Confession #64: I'm Nervous About August


This week we finally got a formal announcement that the first episode of Series 8 will go out on 23 August (as several fans had already surmised). While I'm still looking forward to Capaldi as our new Doctor, I'm getting really nervous about what the series has in store.

I'll admit, a lot of it has to do with Moffat remaining at the helm. When the Grand Moff first came on board, I was pretty psyched. I'd really enjoyed his episodes under RTD, and figured we were in for some great storytelling. Three series later, though, I'm long since ready for him to move on. (This week's other news—that Moffat is staying at least through Series 9—thus had me grinding my teeth.) The real question, though, is whether the change in lead will yield any change in either tone or structure of the stories being told.

Capaldi himself has been in the business a long time, and as a life-long Doctor Who fan (like Moffat), has his own ideas about what is or is not Doctor-ish. I can't help but wonder whether or not these two facts will allow Capaldi the confidence to push back against Moffat. Something about Matt Smith makes me doubt he would ever have dreamed of second-guessing the man. I can only hope having someone equally knowledgeable of the Doctor's history might rein in this show-runner.

Because seriously—it's time for some new tropes.


Confession #46: I'm Still Hopeful About Capaldi


Last week the world got its first glimpse of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor at the tail end of what was arguably the worst episode since Moffat took over as showrunner. I've seen comment after Internet comment about how Moffat effectively jumped the shark with The Time of the Doctor, and I can't say I completely disagree. And yet, I still find myself oddly hopeful that the upcoming series with Capaldi's Twelfth* Doctor won't suck the proverbial big one.

Given how many times I've been burned by Moffat (as mentioned last week, my enjoyment of his episodes has generally decreased over time), you'd think I'd learn not to let my expectations get the better of me. Despite experience, though, here I sit, cautiously optimistic that the show will undergo a positive change.

The rumor mill obviously has something to do with this attitude. Once folks started posting I-heard's and according-to's claiming Capaldi's first series would trend away from the "fairy tale" motif Moffat ensured was infused throughout Smith's run and toward a more "gothic" feel, that treasonous spark of hope rekindled.


Confession #40: I'm Excited for Twelve


Ever since the news leaked that Matt Smith would be leaving the role at the end of the year, fandom has been eating its own tail, trying to figure out who would be cast next. Would it be a woman; a black actor; an older actor; or yet another young, white man? The pros and cons of each have been debated ad nauseum—just like they are every time the role opens.

Well, now we know it's to be Peter Capaldi. And, like usual, it's someone I, from my sheltered American perspective, hadn't really heard of before Sunday's announcement. Granted, that's not entirely true—after all, when his name started cropping up everywhere in the days preceding the announcement, I looked him up and recognized him as Lucius Caecilius from The Fires of Pompeii and John Frobisher from Torchwood: Children of Earth. But the point is, I had to look him up.

I've become accustomed to this state of affairs. I recognize that I'm not soaking in British culture like the hometown fans are, so I'm never going to react to casting news the way UK fans do (I'm often flummoxed, for example, by the excitement surrounding guest cast press releases). As a result, I was neither bouncing in my seat nor beating my head against my desk at the official announcement (nor was I ready to start making Malcolm Tucker mash-ups—had to look up Malcolm Tucker, too). I was admittedly rather disappointed that the fans/media had managed to peg the guy so readily (I'd been hoping for another "unknown," a real surprise), but was relieved that they've at least cast someone with a few more years under his belt. I think that will help give Twelve some welcome gravitas.



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