Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Posted on August 24, 2014

Doctor-Who-Season-8-Episode-1-TV-Series-Review-Television-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOJenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi in BBC America’s “Doctor Who”

Let’s just get this right out there up front: this was occasionally disappointing; as an episode, as a season premiere, and especially, as an introduction to a new Doctor. But we also want to quickly follow that up by noting that it was, paradoxically, also a very meaty introduction. It was possibly the strongest, clearest mission statement any Doctor ever got to make upon donning his new togs.  It also had moments of great finesse and entertainment; delightful bits of character or dialogue that lit up the screen, introductions to new mysteries and concepts, and most interesting of all, the most intensive examination of the psychological processes of regeneration, both in the person doing the regenerating and the people closest to them who have to deal with the repercussions. We laughed, we fidgeted with boredom, we clapped, we rolled our eyes. “Spotty” is the word; uneven, inconsistent. To which the more joyous, easily pleased, nerdier sides of our brains laugh and shout “It’s DOCTOR WHO! What did you expect?”

True that.

There were some stretches that went on too long or were ill-conceived (basically, almost all the scenes with Peter Capaldi in a nightgown until his eyebrows speech), and certain aspects of the episode were underwhelming, like the cringe-worthy dinosaur effects (“It’s DOCTOR WHO! What did you expect?”), or the somewhat limp use of the Paternoster Gang, which sadly, like all of executive producer Steven Moffat’s creations, from River Song to the Weeping Angels, demonstrate drastically diminishing returns over time. “I’m a gay lizard and this is my wife! I’m a gay lizard and this is my wife! I’m a gay lizard and this is my wife!”  New Rule: Everything Moffat creates for the Whoniverse should only get three or four episodes and they’re out of the story. Tell us that wouldn’t have improved certain things in prior seasons.

But this episode, by the time it ended, convinced us this was all probably the best direction for Moffat to go after the extremely messy and disappointing season seven, which essentially squandered Matt Smith’s considerable talent on a lot of shouting and spastic hand-waving and replaced Amy Pond with the show’s very first cut-out paper doll companion, Clara. Charming girl, but as generic as a Who companion could get – and by the end of the season, she’d been somewhat unfairly granted a huge place in the Doctor’s life story. Moffat took a shortcut with Clara last season. Instead of developing a relationship with the Doctor, the way Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Rory did, she had one inserted into her story. The Impossible Girl became The Girl Who Met And Saved Every Version of the Doctor Throughout His Entire Lifespan Offscreen. By the time she got him to drastically alter universal history (as well as his own timeline) by tearing up just a tiny little bit in The Day of The Doctor, she’d become the Mary Sue to end all Mary Sues. We figured it was time to hit the reset button with this new season, but we were surprised Moffat chose to do some actual retconning of the past before letting go of it. In this new version of the Eleven/Clara dynamic, she was a controlling egomaniac and he was a silly old man with a facelift, trying to get a girl to like him.

THAT is the needle scratch to end all needle scratches.

No, this is not really born out by any viewing of the episodes last season. Sure, they had an annoyingly flirtatious banter, and Moffat had Clara mention, under influence of something called a “truth field” that she fancied The Doctor at the end of last season, but in the rewriting, the tale became apparently more complicated – and considerably darker. In this new version, she liked having a near-immortal being at her beck and call, trying to impress her, and he played the part of a young man because he thought he was supposed to make her like him. It wasn’t romantic; it was codependent and dysfunctional.

Now, here’s a couple of things about that. First, Moffat’s issues with women come through loud and clear in all his Who and most of his Sherlock work. Too many references to list here, but you can find some in our previous DW reviews. Suffice it to say, his male protagonists tend to have lots of dialogue about how silly, manipulative and pointless women can be, in their (his) opinion. Clara went from being Mary Sue to being, well, a shallow ballbuster. Character development on this paper-thin character is welcome, but we’re wary because of Moffat’s history. And while we found at least half of Matt Smith’s episodes to be disappointing because they squandered his talent, we found ourselves annoyed that the very man responsible for that squandering rewrote the entire thing to make Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor look silly in retrospect.

And if you want to get typically nerdy about it – and why wouldn’t you? – a lot of the conflict between Clara and Twelve, which mostly comes down to her having a lot of trouble accepting his new face, only works if you completely ignore that Clara is one of the few creatures in all of time and space who has seen all of the versions of the Doctor up until now. Only a few months ago, on her timeline, she had an adventure with THREE versions of the Doctor – including a version who looked like a man several decades older than the current one. Not only that, she noted that this Doctor with the face of a 75-year-old looked “so young” in comparison to Matt Smith, demonstrating that she had a pretty advanced take on the idea of regeneration, time travel, and immortality. All of that got swept aside because ew, he has icky gray hair now.

HOWEVER – and do you see a motif here, of us bouncing back and forth from praise to criticism? Like we said: spotty – this was the most intensive single-episode, open and mature examination of the relationship between a Doctor and his Companion, with all its complexities, both good and bad. There was no subtext, it was right out in the open. “Let’s talk about you and me and exactly what we mean to each other.” Hell, that’s not even textual. It’s as metatextual as it gets.

In fact, Moffat went extremely meta and essentially had Clara sit in on for all the Matt Smith fangurls and fanboys who complained about the casting of an older man to play the Doctor. Much of the episode was a thinly veiled rebuke against anyone who mistook the two previous pinup versions of the character as the real thing. No, we’re told now. It was just a silly phase an old man was going through and you were wrong to pin his poster up on your bedroom wall. “He’s not your boyfriend,” we were told over and over again. This may have been overkill. And we vehemently disagree that this version of the character is somehow more true and real than the previous two. “The veil has been lifted,” Madam Vastra said, recasting the previous several seasons of story as some sort of falsehood.  But even so (they said, ping-ponging once again), parts of this were probably necessary. The show has never had an audience as large as the one it enjoys right now, which means a lot of people watching this episode never had to deal with the oddness of watching the main character change their face and certain aspects of their personality while insisting they were the same character. Let’s face it: it wasn’t that hard to go from David Tennant to Matt Smith; not in comparison to this change. A lot of “Who am I and who are you to me” kinds of questions needed to be asked up front in order to guide the audience into the new status quo. And after Tennant and Smith, the show really did find itself painted into a corner of unprecedented popularity, with versions of the main character that looked like outliers compared to all the previous versions. Even if we quibble or argue with some of the particulars, we can’t deny we loved the sense of focus on display and the fact that Moffat seemed somewhat aware of the recent flaws in the show. If he wants to retcon away (by ignoring) the previously unearned and undefined relationship between Clara and the Doctor for something that looks, at the start, to be a richer, more interesting take, we’re all for it.

We also have to note just how much slower this episode was in comparison to most of last season. It was still faster-paced than most of what you see on television, but the manic shouting of season seven seems to have been toned down considerably. It was a joy just to see the Doctor and Clara have an actual series of conversations. Sure, some of them were rapid-fire and all of them were too witty for their own good at times, but the slower pace and more emotionally honest tone were part of that overwhelming sense of new focus we got out of this episode.

But the main question is, of course, how did Capaldi do? The answer: just fine. The first half hour , which, as we noted, was the worst part of the episode, essentially had Peter Capaldi reciting Matt Smith-style dialogue (“Don’t look in that mirror, it’s furious!”). The post-regeneration cycle is slightly different each time, but we’ve never seen the level of dementia it inspired here. Capaldi didn’t start to become the Twelfth until the scene with the homeless man (“They’re attack eyebrows! You can take bottletops off with these!”), which was, not coincidentally, the scene where he discovered to his delight that he’s now Scottish (“I can complain about things!”) The scene in the restaurant with Clara is when he truly and finally clicked into place, mania-free, prickly (“Nothing is more important than my egomania!” “Right, you actually said that.”), and focused on the job at hand. From that point on, it was a fun little adventure, tinged with classic Whovian darkness, like ripped-off faces and a Doctor who abandons his Companion to danger. While the villain wasn’t all that memorable, there were some fun, creepy scenes with the automatons, and we especially loved the red-tinged POV shots of Clara, as she passed out from holding her breath. And when Capaldi cooly sat down and out-Bonded James Bond with the lines, “I have the horrible feeling I’m going to have to kill you. I thought you might appreciate a drink first. I know I would,” he owned us. That sounds like no version of the Doctor ever. It’s a wholly new spin on the character that still feels true somehow to previous versions. We don’t like the idea that Ten and Eleven were childish pinups; “veils” that masked the Doctor’s true nature, but we do like the increased focus on his less savory qualities. When you have an actor like Peter Capaldi in the role, what else would you do? Now’s the time to go dark, not cuddly.

All of which means that we found ourselves in the surprising position of being disappointed by Matt Smith’s cameo. Don’t get us wrong, it was a truly charming and lovely scene; especially since Eleven rather rudely spent his deathbed scene hallucinating Amy Pond instead of saying goodbye to Clara, but it was the most metatextual moment of them all. Matt Smith all but looked directly into the camera and said “I know you miss me, but give this guy a shot.” We may have hit our meta limit on that one. And it undervalued all the work done in the previous seventy minutes to convince you that the crotchety man in front of you was all the Doctor you needed. Still, it worked on an emotional level, if not a story one.

At the end, we get our first glimpse of what looks to be the season-long mystery of the season. We didn’t much like the introduction of a psychopathic 40-something woman who refers to the Doctor as her “boyfriend,” because this is VERY WELL-TROD road for Steven Moffat. In fact, we couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing and hearing. After all that work establishing a new focus and a release from the past, we get River Song 2.0. But you know what? Moffat’s earned a little room to breathe here. With all the metatextual stuff in the script, it’s very possible that this is both deliberate, as well as a massive fakeout. We’ll see.

One final note, because we couldn’t fit it anywhere else. We’ve waxed rhapsodic about Peter Capaldi’s new costume several times already, but we found ourselves also loving the redesign of the TARDIS main control room, which now has lower lighting, a leather wingback chair, and bookshelves full of dusty old books. It’s the study of a mature man rather than the headquarters of an adventurer. A nice touch – and yet another example, like his “aging punk” costume, of the show creators demonstrating a very welcome laser-like focus on defining the character anew. We’re convinced and ready for the story to come.



[Photo Credit: ©BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014]

Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

  • M_E_S

    I was SO EXCITED for Peter Capaldi to take over, and his Twelve has completely won me over. I just wish to all that is holy that it was under any other showrunner but Moffat. The man who was famous in the first four seasons for his brilliant ideas has run out of them and here he goes back to the well just one time too many. Clockwork robots? Timey-wimey emotional beat? ANOTHER VICTORIAN DRESSED OLDER WOMAN CALLING THE DOCTOR HER BOYFRIEND? That last scene enraged me so much it completely erased all the good bit of the preceding hour. Michelle Gomez (who is BRILLIANT on Green Wing) deserves better material than a River Song reboot.

    Look, Moffat’s Season 1 two-parter has always and probably will always be my favorite episode(s) of the whole of New!Who. But it’s becomingly increasingly clear that he is much, much better as a writer than a showrunner. He needs the vision and hemming in of someone else not to let him run away with his own damn issues and neuroses and timey-wimeyness. I miss companions like Donna and Rose and Martha who were people outside of their relationship with the Doctor. I adored Amy and Rory in Season 5, but as they became more and more entagled with Eleven, they lost what had made them so special in the first place.

    I’m starting to fear the BBC isn’t ever going to notice how upset many fans have become with the show because it’s become such a global success story. I’m afraid Moffat is going to have the reins for a long, long time to come and we won’t get to see everything that Twelve can be because he’ll be stuck repeating the same storylines we’ve seen over the past four seasons. I’m desperately hoping I’ll be proven wrong this season, but something tells me it isn’t so.


    • ewa_pl

      Well said! Your comment sums up my thoughts on Moffat and the last three seasons of DW perfectly.

    • formerlyAnon

      What you said exactly about the New!Who companions. The companions make or break the show for me – the plots are unreliable and the various Doctors aren’t, for long stretches, anyway, particularly intended to parse. Sometimes they’ve been no more than snappy-but-opaque dialog generators which once or twice an episode (if we’re lucky) vomit a chunk of exposition. Usually better than that, but . . . Like I said, as much as I’ve enjoyed the various Doctors, the companions are pivotal as far as I’m concerned. Still waiting to see how I come down on the topic this season.

    • lundibleu

      I adore Michelle Gomez, and seriously hope that she isn’t a River retread. I don’t think she will be, based on a couple of odd things I’ve read, but time will tell. I’ll have fingers figuratively crossed for it.

      I am excited to see what happens next. I didn’t unreservedly love the episode last night – I liked a lot of parts of it, but thought some was lazy. I liked that the tramp was played by Lis Sladen’s husband as another Who note.

      Peter gives me hope. I’m liking what I’ve seen of him, and want more. I may come to swear about episodes afterwards, but we shall see. I’m hopeful.

    • Jean Marie Downing

      I’ve decided that Michelle Gomez is in fact still playing Sue White, and Dr. McCartney is therefore the Doctor. Oh, he finally got to be ginger!

  • emilaweb

    Ah, great review. I’ve been having a lot of trouble wading through the masses of “DOCTORWHOISBACKONLETSALLJUSTBEHAPPYITSON” to find something critical to read. Will always appreciate ya’lls inclusion of women in the criticism of Moffat. Thanks guys!

    (PS. One part that most bothered me in the script was the “solving a mystery” bit. Hi Moffat, you know you can write more than one character, right…right?)

  • AlisonHendryx

    I for one can’t wait for the recurring guest star male companion to start. I think it will balance the dynamic to again have an older Doctor and two companions who are teachers. Incidentally, I thought it was a one-hour episode and missed the first 40 minutes. Doesn’t sound like I missed much except a speech about eyebrows, so I won’t try toooo hard to find it to rematch!

    • Missy

      Rumor has it that the male companion will be Clara’s boyfriend. This diminishes my excitement exponentially–because apparently female characters can’t be interesting without Romance!

  • semirose

    My favourite Capaldi line was when he said “Who frowned me that face?” I actually got shivers.

    Overall, I enjoyed Capaldi, Coleman was adorable but eh, I was a bit bored with the episode. What a waste of a dinosaur! I haven’t even seen an ep outside the 50th since The Doctor’s Wife but even halfway through I was reminded why Moffat grates.

  • deelup

    Great performance by Capaldi. I believe he’s a much better actor overall than Tennant or Smith, and I think that saved a lot of nonsense from Moffat. But at the very beginning, with a dinosaur running through London I thought, ffs, Moffat has no new ideas. I remember seeing an interview with him where he said he told an episode writer, “Dinosaurs on a spaceship! Go!” Seems he told himself “Dinosaur running through the Thames! Go!” Ugh! Will we get “Dinosaur running through Manhattan!” in a few years? If he’s running things by then I am certain of it.

    Also, Clara is still hopeless as a companion. Seems Moffat thinks as long as he has a cute girl around, she doesn’t really need a personality.

    The episode overall was a lot of fun as a new doctor is always exciting- just getting to see him unveiled as a person. But we are still stuck with Moffat so my hope about story is low, while my hope for the character of the Doctor is at an all time high.

  • Mothra

    I was surprised at how much I liked Capaldi, just as I was shocked that I could warm up to Matt Smith. I thought that at the beginning of the regeneration when he still is very much an 11th doctor, you could see the transition to being his own doctor. I liked that.

    However, I have been done with Clara since day one. I do not understand her continued importance and her place in Whovian history as The Most Important Companion, ever of all time, the end. She was interesting as the Souffle girl and even a little interesting as the barmaid cum fancy governess but she is really losing her appeal rapidly because now she’s just a confused young school marm–which reminds me, it seems that almost all the modern companions didn’t really have jobs to be missing when they were out with the Dr but I wonder how Clara will remain being a school teacher if she misses so much time–they can’t ALWAYS return five minutes after they left.

    I am also done with the Madame Vastra and her little warrior gang, the “Married” business was just so freaking tedious. I know that every season there are more Dr Who fans, but come on, give everyone a little credit for watching the previous seasons in advance of the new one, and being caught up on at least the basics. Catering to the brand new Who fan is a great way to lose all the old ones. Strax calling Clara Miss Clara too many times, then reverting to calling her a boy–too late.

    Those are my first thoughts. Might need to watch again. Best line was, though, “I’m Scottish! I can complain about things.”

    • Alanna

      I like that Clara has a job and apparently a life outside the TARDIS, and that she can choose to run off on an adventure when it’s convenient for her, instead of just being a full-time Companion. That was one of the developments I also liked in Amy and Rory’s last few episodes. But as a high school teacher, I hate the widespread trope (and I see this on many TV shows, not just Doctor Who) that anyone can just wake up and decide to be a teacher without any in-depth training and qualifications. If that’s true, then why did I bother with four years of undergrad and an additional year of my M.A.T.? Sigh.

    • Vtg Fashion Library

      My husband is Scottish, and has watched the show since Day One, and I’m pretty sure that was his favorite line of the entire past fifty years.

  • Elaise

    Thank you for always putting together such great reviews. I love that my imaginary fabulous gay uncles are so freaken intelligent and geeky!

    I agree with the previous commenter that the introduction of a boyfriend for Clara will be a great addition to the show and, along with Capaldi’s comments to the press about insisting there be no “Papa Nicole moments” between them, am hopeful. But I’m also resigned to the fact that as long as Moffat is show runner, we’re going to be subject to his issues.

    But bring it on! Fingers crossed for a great ride this season!

    • Missy

      I’m excited for another male companion, but very disappointed that, apparently, Clara has to be romantically involved with SOMEONE to be interesting to the show. (Well, to Steven Moffat, anyway.)

  • sophaloaf

    I think Peter Capaldi did a wonderful job and I am very excited to see what the rest of the season brings for him… But like many of you I also have my reservations about Moffat. I thought a lot of the scenes with the Paternoster Gang were awkward and lacked personality. Which is a real shame because I so love the idea of them but the execution was so flat and their story is getting kindof repetitive. And poor Clara, I was really hoping that he would have left her in Victorian England and that this supposed exit in the Christmas special was just a cover and they would just write her out now because she is so uninteresting… alas.

    • Leaving Clara in Victorian London would have been just fine with me.

      • formerlyAnon

        Right? She looks so good in Victorian womanhood garb. If they really needed a bit of her for exposition she could have walked through in some kind of hand-wavey vision.

      • Missy

        Yes. I really want to like Clara because she had such potential. It’s been largely squandered and now I just don’t enjoy what they’ve done with her.

  • Dora Kishinevsky

    I wish I liked this episode half as much as you did, TLo! I found it extremely slow, extremely messy and most of all, full of telling where we desperately needed some showing. Compare to previous introductions of new doctors: Ten, winning over Rose (and us) in one short talk-and-fight scene where he showed us just how extremely fun he can be. Eleven, making us forget about the very popular Tennant by having an adventure that had a completely new vibe. This new Doctor didn’t do anything to impress me — there was no show-stopper moment, no sense of fun or adventure. Instead, there was a very confusing villain with a very forgettable scheme, and the Doctor winning somehow or whatever, and meanwhile a bunch of characters was telling Clara and me off for not liking the new Doctor because he’s old. It didn’t fit the text (Clara knows him a lot better than that, as you said) and it didn’t fit the subtext because I don’t don’t like him — I just don’t know him!

    By the time Eleven phoned, I was groaning because this felt like an ultimate act of giving up, script-wise. In a fanfiction story this could work: fanfiction is where fans get to moon over the past, meet favorite old characters again, and retell old gags (which is what Madam Vastra and Jenny have become). The actual TV show needs to move forward, take us somewhere new, convince us that it knows where it’s going and that it’s going to be exciting. The last thing you should do after retiring a character as popular as Eleven is bring it back to beg us to take pity on the new one. It was pathetic.

    I could actually do with a lot less conversations between Clara and the Doctor, as well. A lot of it didn’t fit the story and a lot of it felt like this much babble. If you write the interaction between a pair of characters well, you can leave a lot of it open to interpretation, and if you don’t write it well, whatever interpretation you make the characters provide in dialog isn’t going to be worth much.

    I’m still watching, but I’m going to need a lot more fun and action, with character revelations woven in properly, to keep watching past episode 3.

  • Yes. The episode got a lot better right at the homeless man scene. Capaldi was great. Can’t wait for Clara to leave.

  • Ellen O’Neill

    Capaldi will certainly be able to expound on the important fact that the Doctor is an extremely powerful–not human!!– being with an immense natural feeling of authority. A real potentate. Something that Tennant sometimes could tap into and convey, which I thought Matt Smith lacked entirely.

    • BayTampaBay

      Could not agree with you more based on the marathon I watched last night. I think (and hope) we will see the alien side of The Doctor come out more.

  • Bill Craven

    I’m just wondering how we got from “how do I fly this thing” to being spit out by a dinosaur with a TARDIS bouncing between the Jurassic and Victorian London. Maybe Clara forgets things because she’s just an empty vessel in time? It’s never been quite clear to me which version of Clara is the one we ended up with (after jumping in and out of the Doctor’s timeline so much), so maybe this is a completely new one. But the idea that the 11th doctor was vain enough to be manipulated by Clara’s feminine wiles is just offensive, to both her and the Doctor.

  • Super_Red

    I think this episode would have been immensely better had Moffat been restricted to 45 minutes. The story of the mysterious restaurant (you can check-out any time, but you can never leave), the banter between Clara/12 as they stared at the menus- all of that was brilliant. The dinosaur was completely unnecessary (this story would have been better served by focusing on the mysterious spontaneous combustions minus the dinosaur – which doesn’t actually make sense logistically to me… how did a cyborg manage to climb the dinosaur to remove it’s optic nerve before blowing it up?) and, per the (now) usual, Vastra/Jenny/Strax seem more like throwaway characters whose place in the story never seems to fit smoothly.

    TLo, I always love your DW reviews, and you completely hit the nail on the head with the problem of Jenny- the one character who, again, has seen all the Doctors- being so conflicted over his “new face.” She, more than anyone ever, should be able to understand, and it further demonstrates Moffat’s problem with consistency for the sake of story. It’s why, in my opinion, his continued reaches into the past fail- not because they’re bad ideas, but because he tries to make the story grander and doesn’t care if that meshes with the past. (see: Weeping Angels.)

    The only thing I felt the dino really worked for was to allow Capaldi the excellent moment of explaining to the pudding brains what the “right” question was, but the moment was not remotely worth the inanity of all the previous scenes.

    Clara and 12 will be, I think, a MUCH better fit than Clara and 11 were. I never enjoyed that pairing, though I always thought that Clara had some fun moments.

    All in all, this accomplished a lot of very good things, and I like where Capaldi is taking the character, but when I think back on it, I’ll pretend it was actually 30 minutes shorter.

    • Mothra

      I think you mean Clara has seen all four faces. Not Jenny.

    • ConnieBV

      He did ask twice what the “right question”was. I wonder if that’s the new catch phrase.

  • Janet B

    “I’m Scottish! I can complain about things.”

    Felt like a pinball game.

  • Lee Graham

    I think the most difficult regeneration in the show’s history was the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) from the 4th (Tom Baker). The show made it very clear that the regeneration did not go smoothly due to the way Tom Baker Doctor “died”.

    • Eclectic Mayhem

      And it was also difficult in that Davison had to take on Baker’s legacy!

  • harlowish

    I was also disappointed in the episode, and unfortunately I couldn’t find much to like. There’s a whole bunch I could say, but I’m going to limit it to: I’m not sure Capaldi is the Doctor. He is an excellent actor, and after he was announced as the new Doctor I started to check out his past work. So I’m not a Matt Smith fangirl who can’t handle the change; I actually went into the episode excited about what Capaldi would do with the role. His performance was fine, but I feel like in order to be a great Doctor it takes some sort of indefinable Doctor-ly quality. And Capaldi didn’t have it. To be fair, only a handful of the twelve actors who have played the doctors have had it, so it’s a rare thing. Maybe it will become more apparent in Capaldi’s performance over time, although I’ve been watching old episodes and Matt Smith had that Doctor-ly quality from his very first episode. Still, I am rooting for Capaldi and even if it turns out he doesn’t have that quality I’m still hoping for good episodes. I liked many of the past actors despite the fact that they didn’t really seem like the Doctor to me.

  • William Wilson

    I’m not sure what to make of all this drama criticism. I just came here to say that Catrin Stewart looks so amazing with her hair up and in period fashion (and so ordinary otherwise). How can she work this into her everyday/professional/red carpet looks? 😉

  • ajpursell

    The thing about Moffatt is how self-referential he is, and that balances out some of his faults. That he’s addressing why the doctor looks like the father he saved in The Fires of Pompeii (written by Moffatt), which Karen Gillan made her first appearance in, the ship was the sister-ship of the one from The Man in the Fireplace (also Moffatt), and both ships were from the 51st century, which is the same time period as the Silence in the Library (also Moffatt) and where he lost River.

    Now, the afterlife is suspiciously like the library, the center fountain looks like the console of a Tardis, and Missy > Mistress > Female Master, it seems like he’s wrapping up a bunch of little things he’s been dropping in his episodes along the way. And I am on board for that.

    Also, the best is the date that the fires of Pompeii starts is the 23rd of August.

    • Qitkat

      It’s “The GIRL in the Fireplace” 🙂
      Thanks for tying up these threads for me. I did not realize/remember these were sister ships and all these things were from the 51st century. Helps make a lot more sense of it.

      I am not happy with the introduction of Missy. I didn’t care at all for the character, and it never occurred to me that the afterlife scene, which felt like a total needle scratch to me resembled the TARDIS. I thought it resembled the set of The Girl Who Waited, as did other reviewers with side-by-side photos of the scene. Whether that means anything remains to be seen.

      The date of August 23 is indeed a remarkable coincidence/serendipity.

      • ajpursell

        Thanks , I was typing on the iPad and couldn’t go check, I just remembered that it was something fireplace. And yes, definite callback to the girl who waited, which is a thematic callback to Mme de Pompadour. As for the sister ship, that’s the line from the episode, but the clockwork droids using human parts to rebuild the ship is what they were doing in the girl in the fireplace.

        And then there’s the heavy lamp shading with the broom and Capaldi’s doctor realizing how much he’s actually referring to himself.

        And 2 minutes isn’t enough to hate truly hate a character. It took me several episodes to really hate Clara. And I hated Mickey at first, but going back and re watching both of those episodes (the wife said we couldn’t rewatch the library ones as it was late, and she was puffy enough from crying) I came to love Mickey and his story arc. Missy will be the Master at her/his most jokerish. It’ll be fine.

    • Eclectic Mayhem

      I also enjoyed Twelve’s questioning of where he got this face. When Romana regenerated from Mary Tamm into Lalla Ward, back in the classic era, she tried on several looks before deliberately choosing the likeness of a protagonist from the previous adventure. I suspect that part of this new arc will be why this face and who frowned it for him.

      • ajpursell

        The powers that be have said it will be addressed. Of course, Moffatt lies, but I think the line about “why did I pick this one” will be relevant. Probably tied with the mistakes line and how 10 killed all of Pompeii but eventually was talked into saving one family thanks to Donna, and going through time fixing his mistakes, such as losing River in the library is referring to that.

    • GenieinTX

      The afterlife garden is also the same garden that was used in the The Girl Who Waited. Probably coincidence/nice set to reuse. But yes, I’m sick of Moff referencing himself over and over and over again.

      • MilaXX

        It also sort of looked like Madame Pompadour’s gardens from The Girl in the Fireplace which makes sense if the droid is of the same species from that ep. Of course that’s what their idea of paradise would look like.

      • Elizabeth Szubert

        Or the BBC needs more sets. 😀

  • lunchcoma

    It’s on my DVR, and while I really want to watch Capaldi’s Doctor, I’m not sure if I can sit through Clara to do it. The news that there’s lots of talking and analyzing of their relationship isn’t a welcome one. I was hoping she’d take it in stride and they’d be off on an adventure, preferably one where she didn’t have too much to say or do.

    • MilaXX

      watch. its not a bad ep. if you are a fan

  • You sold it. I’ve been avoiding Doctor Who for a while (mid-season 6) because nothing made sense, like Moffat was screaming at the audience, “JUST GO WITH IT!” This gives some hope.

  • Frank_821

    YOu hit the nail on the head. On one level is good to address those issues on the other it comes across so heavy handed and overdone. Overall I liked the epsiode but it was longer than needed and that River 2.0 character at the end made me pissed. all I was thinking was “NOT AGAIN!”

    First I liked Capaldi’s performances. The scene at the restaurant table and what he did with Clara’s hair was wonderful but also intense and spooky. A tone new to the show. In fact the camera work felt very much like a 70s era thriller

    I have not gotten bored with Vastra et al. I still welcome their presence, adore them and still think a spinoff would be great. But realistically they were not needed for this story and therefore their moments came across forced. The story didn’t need to be set in Victorian Britain. Their only real purpose seemed to make meta points to all the swooning fangirls that the Doctor is not a hipster matinee idol and to get over it. Their crossspecies lesbian marriage scenario explanation was also overdone and nothing new. Merely used as a gimmick to shame Clara/audience. Granted I greatly enjoyed Jenny taking jabs at Vastra about constantly playing the maid.

    Now as for Clara. I have never liked the character. The actress is fine but Clara Oswald was a poorly conceived and poorly executed character who was crammed down our throats. She’s this amazing person and incredible companion only because Moffat and the writers say so. I always hated her saving the day in both the 50th anniversary and in the Smith’s final story. Her character never earned either privilege.

    That being said I liked that for the first time they tried to write her as a real person and Coleman had something to sink her teeth into since Asylum of the Daleks. I enjoyed to see for the first time we see her as she might be truly is. Not the”impossible girl” with a great destiny but a sweet pretty thing who for the first times realizes what she’s gotten herself into by traveling with the Doctor. It’s a crisis the character needed to be put into so we can see her pull herself out it and prove to the audience she’s more than just a sweet pretty thing.

    Too bad they had make up new characettistics for her but at least we finally have a real relationship brewing. Of course it’s lame since she of all people know all his past selves. even more so they were discussing his regen crisis near the end of the last episode. Just another way unfortunately to shabbily treat the character.

    I agree someone else need to be producing the show to help the show naturally grow and evolve

    Despite this, I am optimistic with this season. Cautious but optimistic. I hope they keep up the new tone. Good way to challenge many of the NuWho fans. But I also wish for at least one season they would forego the season long story arc. It’s not necessary. Or in Moffat’s caes SEASONS long story arcs

  • Eclectic Mayhem

    I had the same thought about Clara having seen ALL the doctors but I’m not sure that this Clara has those memories. It was a whole bunch of different Claras that ‘saved’ each doctor after she went into the time stream. Perhaps that’s deliberate? WE know she’s met every Doctor and she knows it too, she just doesn’t actually have the memories to go with it!

    I hated the Christmas special so much that I’ve been avoiding Who for a while – aside from taking an interest in Capaldi’s costume and asking for TLo’s thoughts on said costume at the DC book signing event 😉 – but I never doubted that I’d like Capaldi. He’s actually even better than I thought he’d be. Fierce, smart, funny, flawed.

    Nice reference to the Scottish Independence question too (during the EYEBROWS scene). Residents of Scotland are voting in September and it’s looking like a close run thing.

    • MilaXX

      Didn’t she regain her memory of her splintered selves?

  • msgypsy

    I think the mystery will be what the face is meant to remind him of. I can make a few guesses but want to leave the question open for as long as possible while I speculate wildly. The Doctor in this seems darker and way less pacifistic (and diplomatic) than previous Doctors in the more modern incarnation. But it makes sense. This Doctor is the first one since the War Doctor to know that he did not destroy his entire species and planet. He knows more about his own capabilities and and recognizes his inherent heroism. Well, at least he no longer sees himself as a genocidal coward. He reminds me of Three, as well as Seven. I really like him. I want him to have a worthy Companion. Clara, sadly, isn’t it for me.

    • MilaXX

      I’m wondering how adding a male companion will change things.

      • Elizabeth Szubert

        I’m hoping good things. I’m also praying that he will be completely unlike Mickey because we don’t need that again. Don’t get me wrong, as I loved Mickey, but I want something different. I’m also hoping the rumors about Clara leaving at Christmas are true and then we’ll get this new character (Danny Pink is the name, I think?) as the main companion for the Doctor for a bit.

        • MilaXX

          Agreed on all points. It’s time for Clara to go. The Doctor needs a competent, non romantic companion

  • Qitkat

    I am completely on board with Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. By the end he was totally inhabiting the character and starting to give him his own interpretation. Those EYEBROWS, that COSTUME, the FIERCE GLARE, and most of all his entire physical presence. I like that he evokes the Doctors of yore. But dammit, enough with the retconning. And something else, that I have seen no one address; in this episode Twelve clearly says that he is 2000 years old. What? That’s a huge time leap from my recollection of him being 1300-1400 years old at the end of Eleven’s era. Am I forgetting something major? I hope someone weighs in on this. So here’s my theory: if he is this much older, is it possible that This Old Time Lord is actually getting very old for a Time Lord? This might explain his extreme confusion after the regeneration, the seemingly lengthy time it took for him to fully inhabit this new skin.

    Back to the retconning. Clara is a pleasant enough companion. It does seem as if she has very selective memories of her time with previous Doctors, as @Eclectic_Mayhem:disqus noted. I enjoyed her scenes in the ‘Hotel California’ restaurant with Capaldi. Not so much any scenes with Mme Vastra, or for that matter any of the Paternoster Gang. Some of them were downright uncomfortable and very awkward. As far as retconning her relationship with Matt Smith, and trying to convince us how childish both Ten and Eleven were, I am just going to ignore all that nonsense! After 50 years there are bound to be more and more instances of inconsistencies. Moffat would do well to refer to his own playbook, however, assuming he has one. I can’t imagine any showrunner NOT having something to refer to with this kind of long-running show. She has never been written with the strength of companions like Rose Tyler or Donna Noble, not with any consistence, a few occasional flashes here and there. I think it will do the show a huge favor to bring on a male companion, whether he is her boyfriend or not doesn’t matter. The Doctor always plays off differently to another man.

    I am apparently one of the few who LOVE River Song. I would be happy to see her back for a closeout episode or two. She is one of my all time favorite characters, and clearly Moffat was writing for the long game when he introduced her in Silence in the Library. You, Missy, are NO River Song.

    My favorite moments were the scenes with the homeless man (someone on another blog said that the actor was the husband of the late beloved Elisabeth Sladen), the moments when the Doctor interpreted the dinosaur while lying in bed and later when he spoke directly to it just before it was incinerated, and the phone call from Eleven which was the only moment of the entire show in which I felt the least bit emotional. When I initially heard this episode was about dinosaurs, I thought, oh no, again? But it was handled very well and thankfully dispensed with quickly; the far away scenes were the best, actually we are all so used to CGI at this point, we might as well accept it going forward; it wasn’t that hard to suspend disbelief. It was rather funny the explanation that swallowing the TARDIS was what enabled it to time travel forward.

    I do agree that this was an uneven, spotty, occasionally boring episode. But I am looking forward to this season. I hope there are some writers on board who will bring some fresh air. Moffat has his hand in 8 out of the 13 episodes scheduled for this year, including the Christmas special. So he has a very strong control over the storylines. We shall see.

    • Frank_821

      the final Smith episode takes place over several hundred years. He’s on that planet that long, expecting to finally die since it’s his last life

      • Qitkat

        OK, thanks.
        I haven’t rewatched any previous shows in ages, so I forget a lot of stuff that I am thankful the geekier fans know (that is meant in the NICEST possible way).

    • Eclectic Mayhem

      I love River Song too. I don’t know why Moffat was in such a damned hurry to wrap up her storyline. I’d love to see her interact with as many Doctors as possible!

  • Jangle57

    I’m not sure yet how I feel about Capaldi; the jury is still out for me but I’m not hopeful. All I do know is that as I write this, I just finished watching a rerun of The Empty Child and now they jumped forward to Doomsday; I’ve seen both of these episodes numerous times and enjoy them every time. I am now convinced that the reason I never warmed up to Matt Smith was due to the writing and not the actor. And I saw too much of the same confusing plot line last night to give me much hope that things are going to get better with Capaldi, and again, not his fault, but Moffet’s.

    • FibonacciSequins

      I wish Moffat would just leave already. I’m tired of the overly complicated plot lines and lack of attention to character.

      • Missy

        Indeed. He so often conflates overly-complicated and confusing with capital-p-plot.

  • ConnieBV

    I wanted to touch on this “We don’t like the idea that Ten and Eleven were childish pinups;
    “veils” that masked the Doctor’s true nature, but we do like the
    increased focus on his less savory qualities.” I didn’t get that from this episode. Vastra’s speech and the Doctor’s own comment that it wasn’t Clara’s mistake made me think about the fact that he came off the Time Wars into Nine, who was a bit abrasive and harder and PTSD, to Ten who was sad and regretful (and yes, more of a flirt) to Eleven, who was kooky and affectionate and it made me think that if his regenerations were conscious choices, then he chose those faces because he wanted to be loved, admired, he wanted to feel better after being haunted by that choice. And now that he undid it (during the 50th), maybe he feels it’s time to cut the silliness a bit and just see how he does not consciously trying to be liked for anything other than himself. It felt very poignant to me, and not like a dismissal of his previous personas. We’re all a bit sillier and flirtier when we are trying to be liked.

    • Qitkat

      I really like your interpretation! That is one that I can accept, without a bunch of silly retconning.

  • Elizabeth Szubert

    I like the theory that was spouted on the after show that she’s the Master. 😀 Because, come on, female Time Lord Master? Moffat would be forgiven tons if it was true by some fans (not me, sadly). Or heck, just another female Time Lady who happens to be pissed at the Doctor for some reason. Possibly got out at the end of the Christmas episode with the regen effect. If it’s just River Song 2.0, I’m going to have to rethink watching DW.

    • MilaXX

      The Rani was a female timelord so the speculation that Missy is The Rani would fit. Even calling him her boyfriend or husband would fit with the description of The Rani. I don’t think she’s River.

      • Elizabeth Szubert

        I don’t think she is either, but this is Moffat and his beating things to death. 🙂 Rani would be neat to see a comeback, considering there were so many throwbacks in the first episode to 9*, 10, and 11. So why not go further back?

        *The dialogue at the end with chips – second episode of 9’s reign. 🙂 So tiny but it made me think that.

  • It’s actually River Song 3.0 since there was that leader of the Papal Mainframe from 11’s last episode – Moffat clearly didn’t bother to give her a personality of her own, so I can’t be bothered to look up her name. I would love to see the Moff learn that ladies can have personalities and motives all on their own, rather than revolving, puppy-like, around the Doctor.

    And I completely agree – any of his plot devices should be retired after a couple of episodes! How much more effective would the Weeping Angels have been after just Blink and maybe the two-parter with Amy?

    • ConnieBV

      Her name was Tasha Lem.

    • Topaz

      Nope, the only interesting personality trait a woman can have is “Sexy schmexy spanky sex sex.” It’s that or Clara. Those are the only choices.

    • MilaXX

      Yup. Those are the only 2 episode in which the Angels were scary.

  • WendyD

    I’ll be a disenter and say that I LOVED the episode from top to bottom. I like Moffat’s writing and this was everything I hoped for and more for an intro to 12. I had managed to avoid every spoiler and had NO idea that Matt Smith would make an appearance. I didn’t see that coming in the least. And I cried like a baby seeing him again, despite the fact that I am really excited for Capaldi’s 12th Doctor.
    I’m starting to feel like if you’re a fan of the show and are not critical of Moffat, then other fans view you as too much of a fan gurl, or possibly even less intelligent.

    • Eclectic Mayhem

      I think people just like to argue, particularly online! You get a better class of commenter here at TLo though, I don’t think anyone ever gets shouted down or accused of being a fangurl. I didn’t really have a problem with Moffat until the Christmas episode (which I thought was dreadful) and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt with this season.

    • redhead with tattoos

      Or maybe a lot of fans of the show are really frustrated with some very blatant problems with Moffat’s showrunning and writing? I’ve never seen anyone criticizing fans for liking the show now — in fact, most of what I see involves those who love Moffat’s work demanding those who like Doctor Who but are totally fed up with Moffat’s run “stop complaining” or “stop watching if you don’t like what he’s doing.” Not the opposite.

      • On other hand, I’m living in a Doctor Who Golden Age right now after the awful Davies years. So, hey! I hope it never ends!

    • MilaXX

      I don’t like liking Moffat makes you a fangurl. I had just as many moments of disliking Davies writing as I do Moffs.

  • Frank_821

    Oh forgot to mention i really did not care for Matt Smith’s apperance in the episode. I heard it was going to happen but I felt it undermined the scene. His presence wasn’t needed to try to get her to accept the Doctor. Oh well whatever

    • ConnieBV

      I agree. It sort of yanked me right out of the episode because all I could focus on was that awful wig.

    • Faerie Nuff

      Am I the only person who thought of Lavinia Swire’s letter to Matthew when Matt Smith’s doctor called? It was total deja vu for me.

  • GenieinTX

    This is so well thought out and so very clearly lays out so many things that I haven’t been able to articulate well at all. I have always hated Clara. It manifests in ways that make it look like I hate Clara because she flirts with the Doctor and he flirts back. But really, that’s it.. her relationship with the Doctor was completely unearned on screen. I think Clara was Moff writing himself in. She gets to be so important to the Doctor for no reason whatsoever.

    I’m a River fan and always will be, and will always be thankful to the Moff for the River/Doctor relationship and also Amy/Rory’s. They are both so beautiful and so tragic, but the man’s writing leaves a lot to be desired sometimes – for the reasons TLo stated above so much better than I could.

    • Juliette Wojciechowski

      I am a hard corn River/Doctor fan and I love the description of Clara as a “paper cut-out doll”! No offense to the actress, but the character is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. And the whole bit where she was baffled about regeneration and unsure of continuing with him just rang so false.
      Wildly excited about the new Doctor, praying Moffat doesn’t screw it up, and hoping Clara moves on soon. I know it won’t happen, but I’d so love to see Donna’s grandfather join up as a new companion down the road! Wouldn’t Wilfred Mott and the Doctor have an amazing time of it (and think of what mischief all those EYEBROWS could get into!) Bring in Rory’s dad and we’d have a humdinger of a show! Who needs young whippersnappers messing about the place with those three men!

      • Missy

        What makes it clear, to me, that it’s not the actress’s fault that Clara is annoying is that she was TOTALLY great as Souffle Girl with Tennant. Independent, plucky, smart, tragic…but without all the “I’ll be whatever you want me to be regardless of whether or not it makes sense” qualities. For me, it’s definitely how she’s written.

        I would LOVE a bunch of old dude companions with very strong female supporting characters. I think Moffat has lost the right to write for female companions since he doesn’t seem to be very consistent at it.

  • Amelia Ross

    Whether Missy is The Rani, or the Master, as is being theorized online, she appears to be sinister. In any case in that final scene it seemed like Moffat parodying his own River Song writing, which… sort of…. god forbid… gives me hope?

    • GenieinTX

      I don’t think Missy is River. The thing is, it would have made a kind of sense for River to end up being Tasha Lem. Tasha was the head of the Papal Mainframe. Mainframe Computer – Library Data Core. River running a church who looks after/help/warns about the Doctor. It can be made to make some sense. But it turns out that Tasha was just a character who had nothing to do with nothing. Just someone who was a psychopath, sexy woman who the Doctor had a history with.

      So, Moff could be just that unoriginal. Another psychopath sexy woman with a history with the Doctor. Too early to tell at this time. Because it turns out Tasha was a big ole nothing River knock off, it gives me hope that Missy is not River. I don’t want Missy to be River, and I saw that as a big ole River fan. In my perfect world Twelve saves River from the Library and they live happily ever after, but that’s my fanfic universe.

    • MilaXX

      I thought Missy was The Rani the minute I saw her. The actress even looks a little like Kate O’Mara.

  • KatyJoy

    I’m actually okay with Vastra’s “veil speech” in regards to Ten and Eleven–even if I do think it was a bit ham-fisted and not fleshed out correctly at all. It does make sense to me that, after thinking he destroyed Gallifrey, he would choose (as much as The Doctor can choose) snarky Nine with a protective coating. Then, Rose comes along and loves the business out of him and he realizes how important to have love from others is to him. It’s what helped him heal. So we have Ten and Eleven who are romantic and silly and nice to look at and easy to love. I love them and I don’t think there is anything wrong with them, but they are the facet of The Doctor that is easy and fun to be around. Even their complications are charming.

    Now, The Doctor knows he saved Gallifrey. He doesn’t have the same guilt issues he had before. He’s not recovering from extreme trauma and he doesn’t need the love from so many anymore.

  • Hollykins

    You guys are so much kinder to Moffat than me. Maybe it’s a fakeout, maybe it’s meta, but his issues with writing female characters make me livid. Furthermore, who ARE these mythical fans who don’t like Capaldi because he’s oooold and not as haaandsome? Because I only ever really heard people complaining about those fans — I never actually saw those fans.

    I think it’s a sexist allegation towards “fake fangirls:” another instance of misogynist gatekeeping.

    • redhead with tattoos

      I am 100% right there with you.

      • Marjean Fieldhouse

        me too! If Moffat was American, he’d be one of those guys on Fox News whining for the good old days when everybody but white men knew their place. Clara is narcissistic and passive aggressive huh? And we’re presented with yet another over 40 woman who will either be a sex goddess or evil genius or both – but either way, still obsessed with the Doctor. To quote Russell T. “Doesn’t he look tired”

    • MilaXX

      They exist. When I told one of my friends (she’s a NuWho) how excited I was to see Capaldi as Doctor because I was tired of all the lovey dovey stuff with the younger Doctors she replied that she liked the lovey dovey stuff. What I disagree with however, is the notion that they are such a large part of the fan base that we needed to be spoon fed a new, older Doctor like this.

      • Missy

        Agreed. Most people I talk to don’t have that much of a problem with older Doctors–it’s just how it is. Some people regenerate: get over it. 🙂

        I actually didn’t mind the lovey-dovey stuff at all with 9/10 and Rose, simply because it was a fresh and unexpected angle. I don’t think they should have returned to that well–it would have made it more special (AND they wouldn’t have ruined Martha who, before the lovey-dovey plotline, was the best potential companion ever…a DOCTOR dammit!).

      • Hollykins

        Fans who prefer romance =/= the mythical fangirls who will only watch for ~handsome men~ and nothing else, though. I do take issue with the idea that — as you say — fans who prefer romance (+ other fans, like you, who don’t want romantic plotlines) need to be spoonfed anything. Mostly it’s because there’s sometimes an undertone with such comments that fans of romantic plotlines have a shallow and somehow less valid relationship with the show than those who don’t. Fans who prefer romance are real fans just like the ones who don’t like romance.

        • MilaXX

          I didn’t say those who like romantic plotlines are shallow & less valid. I was making 2 separate points; 1.) I was ready for an older non romantic doctor after two very romantic doctors. and 2.) I felt having 11 call Clara and beg him to give the older face a chance was a deliberate move by Moffat directed at the fangurls who prefer the younger doctors to give Capaldi a chance. That felt like spoonfeeding the new Doctor to that particular segment of the audience and I don’t think it was needed.

    • Missy

      I agree 100% on both points.

  • JauntyJohn

    I am, much like your review, divided.
    One strength of Moffat’s is that he really uses time travel as if it is a character. It’s not just a thing someone does, it is a thing unto itself. He makes it a verb, not a noun. You don’t just go forward or backward and get off the Tardis and have an adventure — the characters reach out to each other across time and the adventures fold in on themselves around the edges. Sometimes this gets away from him but on the whole I think it’s clever, and what a show of this magnitude now should be doing with a Time Traveling lead. (Best example of this was the whole “Pandoricon Opens” thing.)

    On the other hand, this is a children’s adventure show which grownups love, and I sincerely wish there had been one (we only needed one) real fist pumping moment. One “Hell YEAH He’s THE DOCTOR!” and I never felt that.

    Clara has always been a challenge for me – loved her debut, then she just became a cheat, and how clever does the Doctor ever have to be if someone is always popping up in his life saying “Go left, not right! Take this Tardis, not that one!” Undercut the character severely.

    Retconning some of that away… well, then, I guess we start over with her as well as him. Not sure about that.
    My jury is still out on Mr. Capaldi — I want to like him so much that it’s getting in the way of liking him maybe. I can see it working though. But he seemed oddly a little clumsy with some of the rapid fire patter. He’s better at the throw-away aside than the “His Girl Friday” reparte I think.
    You’re 100,000% right about the nightshirt business. An attempt at broad comedy that fell flat. It all only clicked into gear in the restaurant.

    With all that said, I about fell over with the “It’s times like this I miss Amy” line. That was a jaw dropping surprise line and freakin’ hysterical.
    Personally, I think there’s still some mileage for Madame Vastra and company, but I can see how we are perilously close to “precious” with them, too.

    The character development was strong — and felt right. Points that needed addressing up front were indeed addressed up front. I liked everything, and I’m in for the whole ride, but I wish I was a tiny bit more excited by it.

    • Qitkat

      It’s so easy to forget this is a children’s adventure show. Sometimes I wonder if even Moffat remembers. I’ve never ever even seen a review that was written with a child’s viewpoint in mind, ie, how would children react to elements in an episode, what they think of getting a new Doctor.

      • MilaXX

        To be fair, I think Davies forgot it as well. While 9 felt like the original series, both Matt and David were a bit too lovey dovey for my taste at times. It’s one of the reasons why I dislike Rose as a companion so much.

        • redhead with tattoos

          Davies did not write Matt Smith, not a single word of him. That’s all Moffat.

          • MilaXX

            I worded that poorly. I didn’t mean to imply that Davies had anything to do with Matt. I just found Davies writing of Rose just as insufferable as Moffat’s writing of most female characters.

          • redhead with tattoos

            I utterly disagree. I fell completely in love with Rose, am still completely in love with Rose, and think she’s the magic Moffat is so desperately trying to emulate in his women, but without literally any of the depth and humanity. I agree Moffat’s women are abysmal, but Davies’ companions – including and in some ways especially Rose – were complex, compelling, and utterly fantastic.

          • MilaXX

            Yeah not a Rose fan AT ALL. She’s one of my least favorite companions. I’d take Adrick over Rose. That’s how much I dislike her.

          • I second your Rose dislike.

    • MilaXX

      I like Vastra & co as well. I thought Strax was hysterically funny this go round. My biggest complaint was being hit over the head with Vastra & Jenny being a married couple. I can’t speak for everyone, but I get it. They are a lesbian couple. I’m okay with that so stop telling me very 3 seconds.

    • Elentari

      The “I miss Amy” line and the one about “I’m Scottish I can complain about things” were two of my favorites. 🙂

  • AlisonHendryx

    1. The dinosaur and the paternosters were unnecessary. 2. Missy was weird and I’m not on board yet and won’t be for a long while. 3. Not a fan of Clara yet either, especially not given how “important” she is supposed to be. Show, don’t tell.

    So we’re on the same page there. BUT I feel like I’m missing something… I was mad at Clara for being upset at the beginning and it makes no sense, but I missed all the “retconning” of Eleven’s story everyone is talking about. Beyond Vastra saying the young face was a veil. I think that theme is a continuation of an interesting theme from the 50th. The War Doctor said several times his future selves were being childish, and I think it was either explained or implied that this was partly a reaction to their perception oh The Moment – they were running from the idea of being “a grown up” because that meant doing terrible things. Nine did a few things along that line, and Twelve seems on board with murder of automatons. But this was a progression. I missed the part Tlo talks about with redefining Eleven’s relationship with Clara.

  • Tracey Walker

    Wow, you completely put into words pretty much everything I was thinking while watching this episode. “oh man, they really are trying to let us know it’s okay for The Doctor to be old” “Why do they keep telling me Clara is so important? Why don’t i give a shit about her” and he definitely had me with “I’m Scottish! I can complain about things” I disagree only about River Song. I can never have enough River song. But, I certainly don’t need a new one.

    • Qitkat

      I can never have enough River Song
      I suppose you and I and a few others are the only ones left who feel that way; I fervently hope we see her again. And we absolutely do not need a poor retread/reimagining of the character.

  • CT14

    Twelve was wearing a wedding ring at the end of the episode. Part of the new costume?

    Perhaps all the marriage talk with Vastra and Jenny was foreshadowing or a clue? Because he’s a got a ring on the left ring finger.

    • Supernumerary

      The ring is actually Capaldi’s wedding ring, which he preferred not to take off. According to some article or another, the Who crew has found a way to rig it for in-character purposes… although lord, I hope it’s not another marriage for the Doctor. We’ve had quite enough of those, IMO.

      • CT14

        Good for him!

  • Rachael Fraser

    I am kind of hoping that the woman who says the doctor is her boyfriend is in some way delusional and the doctor doesnt actually know her at all. I know that Peter Capaldi said that he didnt want romance to be part of his role as the Doctor, so I can’t imagine her actually being a romantic interest.

  • redhead with tattoos

    Moffat can do what he wants recasting Eleven’s time (and fine, do it, those last two seasons were pretty horrific), but I really bristle at the way he’s dipped his hands back into Russel T. Davies’ era and is trying to recast those Doctors as well. Tennant was pretty but he was never simply an adventurer — he was dark and complex and much, much more like Eccleston’s Nine and Capaldi’s Twelve than he ever was like Smith’s Eleven. As with all Doctor Who, he had his share of silly episodes and plot lines (I mean, really, I don’t want this show to ever be Serious Business, let’s all remember what we’re here for), but Ten(nant) also pulled off some of the show’s darkest moments, from The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit to Doomsday to Midnight to The Waters of Mars. We had the (deleted) scene where he essentially explains he regenerated younger and prettier for Rose, but for the most part looks and (relative) youth were coincidental — the whole “The Doctor is a silly adventurer and the Universe’s boyfriend” was a Moffat invention for Eleven and I don’t want any part of it in Ten’s tenure. It doesn’t belong.

    As for this episode: Yes, intensely spotty, I would give my right hand to not go back to Victorian England and the Paternoster Gang for the rest of the season (maybe even more than my right hand, jesus, PLEASE STOP WITH VICTORIAN ENGLAND MOFFAT. There have been what, like, half a dozen episodes in the last season?!) or better yet SEVERAL seasons, and I can’t shake the feeling that Capaldi’s considerable talents are going to be squandered as we go on. I just don’t have any faith left in Moffat’s showrunnning abilities.

    • Ali2044

      There were rumours that Idris Elba was being considered for the Doctor which is the only reason I was disappointed by Capaldi, only because I want Idris Elba in everything, all the time.

  • BayTampaBay

    I have to admit that I have never watched a complete episode of Dr. Who until Sunday night. I tuned
    into Breath Deep simply to watch Peter Capaldi as I am a big fan of The Musketeers (I love hysterical costume dramas) and was sorry to hear he left the
    show to accept the lead role as the new Doctor.

    I watched Breath Deep then continued to watch the Dr. Who marathon leading up to the season finale of The Musketeers. With respect to the casting of Peter Capaldi, I think it was a great idea because it removed all sexual tension between The Doctor and Companion present in the previous season. I think it will give the writes a chance to develop the Companion in a new direction and take the The Doctor-Companion relationship in a completely new direction.

    That said….my favorite episodes aired during the marathon were The Empty Child, Vincent Van Gogh and Breath Deep. I got a kick out of the “lizard woman in a black lace Dolce & Gabbana” veil” requesting forma tea every place she went.

    Also, would like to know if any other bitter kittens enjoyed The Musketeers?

    • MilaXX

      I’ve been watching The Musketeers but not consistently. I like not love it.

  • James

    I’ll be short. Didn’t like the episode, don’t like Capaldi and I am going to skip this Doctor. I’ll come back once Moffat is gone.

  • Badriya Al-Badi’a

    Spot on, you guys. You perfectly captured all the fineness and flaws.

    I’ve been disappointed with Clara’s development after such a strong introduction. It’s a struggle to care for her when she hasn’t been consistently written, and so that pulled a little of the oomph out from under this episode. Your critique helped me appreciate her a little more.

    One thing that has bothered me about both Clara and Amy is that companions shouldn’t have big dramatic universe-affecting stories or powers, imo. The point of a companion is an ordinary person who gets to see the glories and wonders of the universe, somebody for us to identify with. The Doctor is the special one.

    • Ali2044

      Exactly, this is why what happened with Donna was so heartbreaking. She saved the universe, became a time lord and then had to go back to being a temp from Chiswick after having all the memories of all the amazing things she’s seen and done completely wiped. Like the audience, she got a taste of the fantastic, but unlike us, didn’t even get to remember it. That was the most heartbreaking storyline of DW.

  • thimble

    I just hope the doctor pushed the bot out instead of it jumping.. it would suit Capaldi better

    • Qitkat

      I agree; he wouldn’t be killing a human, he would be destroying a machine that killed humans. No more of an issue than getting rid of a Cyberman or a Dalek.

      • thimble

        Daleks are quite alive…

        My point was not that he would be destroying a machine and not a human… Couldn’t care less about that. It is more that he is not a pacifist, he will allow for casualties if that is necessary.

  • Felicity Brown

    Thank You! You are in my head about this episode. And expressed it so much better than I ever could.

  • Dora Kishinevsky

    That’s adorable! I love that he didn’t want to take it off!

  • MilaXX

    I think most of us are of two minds about this episode.
    like all of executive producer Steven Moffat’s creations, from River Song to the Weeping Angels, demonstrate drastically diminishing returns over time. “I’m a gay lizard and this is my wife! I’m a gay lizard and this is my wife! I’m a gay lizard and this is my wife!” New Rule: Everything Moffat creates for the Whoniverse should only get three or four episodes and they’re out of the story. Tell us that wouldn’t have improved certain things in prior seasons. This is my biggest complaint about Moffet’s writing. I rewatched “Blink” yesterday and couldn’t help but think about how scary the Weeping Angels were in this episode compared to the joke they’d become in “The Angels Take Manahattan”.
    I don’t understand how Clara could be surprised that 12 was “so old”. The impossible girl was splintered throughout time and space, wouldn’t she has already seen 12? Even if we accept that she hadn’t she’s already seen Doctors 1 -3 & the War Doctor. That’s at least 4 old faces. I like Matt Smith, so yes I was happy to see 11 again, but I thought it was insulting to 12 to have 11 call and basically beg her to give him a chance.
    The one thing I did like/hope is that new big bad, Missy turns out to be The Rani.

  • Missy

    So…dinosaurs are running around Victorian England and people: 1. Seem to generally know quite a bit about dinosaurs at that time, and 2. Aren’t more freaked out about this? Really?

    Gratuitous dinosaurage.

    I have issues with Moffat’s continuity. I think he thinks it adds to the cleverness and mystery. But it is just lazy and creates unsatisfying and confusing plot holes.

  • Selkiechick

    I really hope that they add some women to their writing and directing staff, or perhaps even some people who have spent time with and like women. As for the Paternoster gang, I’d love to see more of them, but only if they get something real to do, and lines other than “look how married we are… isn’t this show progressive”

  • AnotherG

    Really good write up! Post-regeneration episodes tend to be pretty difficult for everyone: writers, actors, fans. I think Tennant had the “easiest” one, given that it was the first of the new Who and we got to focus on the humans who were justifiably freaked out by it (and, to be honest, any episode with Jackie Tyler is hard for me to dislike). He was wisely asleep for most of the first part of it and his angst (“that’s the kind of man I am”) was mostly relegated to the second half. Compare the heavy-handed Colin Baker “regeneration crazies” where he tries to kill his then-companion, Peri. It takes a while for them to be done cooking (Tom Baker in “Robot” was very different than Tom Baker later on in the series. I’m always shocked at how much of a dick he was to Sarah in that episode). But I’m encouraged by Capaldi’s performance and the moral ambiguity they seem to be introducing (such as his ditching Clara a la William Hartnell’s tendency to look out for his own skin more than his companions’).

    Also, I totally thought “Missy” was a Madame Kovarian re-tread, not River Song. If she’s the Master, I could be okay with that.

    • Qitkat

      I tend to agree with you, that Missy is much more a Mme Kovarian type, than anything like River. These random female villains come and go, but River is unique and well-developed and has a continuity, baffling though it has been at times, that cements her as strongly relevant and important as any of the long time Companions.

  • MarieLD

    Thanks so much for this. I asked a similar question on Facebook: If Clara is an integral part of the Doctor’s timeline, why didn’t she know this face? I answered myself thinking that she isn’t aware of her role. Whatevs. It’s Doctor Who.

    • Elentari

      She only ever saw/saved/helped the Doctor up until Matt’s Doctor. She did not see more than 11 faces (+ War Doctor) in the time stream, and those were the only ones she had an impact on as the Impossible Girl. Needless to say, I appreciated the comment that she shouldn’t have been surprised at the older face since she’s seen the Doctor as older before (1 and War specifically). She was definitely used as a stand-in for fans in Deep Breath, that’s the only explanation for her behavior.

  • MarieLD

    Oh, I also wanted to add, thanks for the Mary Sue line. I’m part of a programming/planning committee for a conference for Long Island librarians covering pop culture and one of the panels suggested is Mary Sue. I finally raised my voice a few meetings ago and asked, who is Mary Sue? Now that I know I love to see “Mary Sue” mentioned.

  • Jen

    That Clara point about her meeting all his previous incarnations and still being uncomfortable with a new face is one that crossed my mind too. And yes, like many others, I couldn’t get away from the fact that last female villian has been around AT LEAST THREE TIMES BEFORE. Capaldi was fab though, and I warmed to the supporting characters for the first time. It shouldn’t have taken me so long though. Someone needs to knock Moffat off his perch of invincibility.

  • This is the best review/assessment of the premiere I have ever read. And I’m a true Whovian. Spot on you guys.

  • Erik1986

    Oh, please. The interim between Tennant and Capaldi was the boring part. I’d like to just forget Smith’s Doctor every existed.

  • Corsetmaker

    Just watched it as was away helping run a conference of corsetry! ‘Missy’ may seem a predictable road… but Michelle Gomez! I could get almost as excited by her as by Capaldi! I agree with the issues on the episode, but I love him and he’s going to be brilliant! And remember, I AM Scottish so I CAN complain about things haha

  • I just watched it, having zoned out after Christopher Ecclestone’s Doctor. I liked it, because I like Peter Capaldi, but it really is hard-going for a newb who has very little background in the mythology. Loved the line about angry eyebrows seceding from his face – very apt for September’s Scottish independence referendum.

  • Candice Jones

    Is no one else disappointed that there was a BURNING DINOSAUR and not ONE joke was made about fossil fuel? Anyone??