Deep Breath is the first full new episode of Doctor Who to star the superb Peter Capaldi, after his all-too-brief appearance at the end of the Christmas episode, after he regenerated from Matt Smith’s incarnation, much to the shock of Clara (Jenna Coleman).
The first thing that struck me in this new series was – when the title sequence appeared – how come Capaldi’s face isn’t in them?
What follows is not a mass of spoilers, it’s no more than I’d write in a regular review of a TV show, but I do expect you to have seen the episode. Then again, if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this anyway.
Deep Breath begins with a Tyrannosaurus Rex reaching Victorian London, seemingly ready to destroy it, but before long, it coughs up a strange object… the TARDIS. This is a bizarre moment observered by Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey), who just happen to be around when there’s baddies to be fought. Okay, so they make for a good threesome – if you’ll pardon the expression – but they do tend to feature rather too often.
Capaldi’s Doctor is still adjusting to his new body, much as previous Doctors have done. He even doesn’t understand that a bedroom only has a bed in it because it’s simply for sleeping in, because “what’s the point in having a whole room for not being awake in?”
Once again, Strax provides some great comedic moments, and again, like with Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat continues to make an issue out of sexual proclivities. I thought we were now in a more enlightened age, but Jenny and Vastra make practically a “Hey, we’re lesbians!!!” issue out of their relationship, and even a line from Clara adds to this when they’re having a conversation 17 minutes in.
Elsewhere, we also see Capaldi riding a horse at one point, which was hinted at in photos which were taken during the filming, and Clara’s adopted moniker from the Doctor, “Impossible Girl” also crops up.
And another highlight is Graham Duff (Ideal, Hebburn), completely unrecognisable as the waiter. He should’ve commented on Peter Capaldi, “Ooh, in’he scrummy!”
As well as writing Ideal, Graham also appeared as Brian (“Hi-Hi!”), and whereas he’s normally bald, here he has hair!
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on this episode.
Naturally, there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark… or, Victorian London, and it’s a variation on clockwork droids, but looking rather different than before, this time led by the Half-Face Man (Peter Ferdinando), although from his voice, I thought it was Philip Glenister at first.
And this time, the Doctor declares himself as being over 2,000 years old. At first, I wondered when did he get so much older, since David Tennant declared his Doctor to be 904 years old, adding a year on for each series, and then Matt Smith’s Doctor was no more than 1200… for most of the time, but then he did spend an awful long time getting old in the 2013 Christmas episode.
Finally, yes, Matt Smith is back! Well, for about 2 minutes. It’s a wonderful almost-ending to this episode.
Capaldi and Coleman have got great chemistry from the off, so we have a wonderful series and Christmas special to look forward to. Well, there’s always the occasional duff episode to trawl through. He’s also given some great one-liners:
- On his eyebrows: “They’re independently cross… You could take bottletops off with these!”
And because he’s Scottish: “I can complain about things!”
Really? I’m not Scottish and I can complain for the whole of Britain!
Oh, and when the T-Rex screams very loudly: “Oi! Big man, shut it!”
Go to page 3 for a stack of screenshots and more thoughts on this episode, including comparisons to the rough cut.
I first saw this episode in the 76-minute rough cut, which was leaked online. There, the opening credits still used the previous ones when the programme was made under Matt Smith’s tenure as the titular hero. Oddly, it was masked to an approximate 2.35:1 ratio, but not oddly, the leaked episode was time-coded and watermarked, as well as containing occasional text to point out when certain SFX/CGI should appear, all of which were put into the broadcast print, as were all the general sound effects, even though the rough cut print contained a great score. Naturally, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundmix is a lot more pleasing than the basic Pro-Logic version in the rough cut.
The rough cut was also in black and white, and did work brilliantly in that format, especially after Wheatley’s A Field In England, so it’d be good if the eventual Blu-ray/DVD release contains a version of this like that. However, given the length of the episode, there are times when it goes on a bit and could be tightened up, but then again, it’s rare that there’s ever a Doctor Who episode which doesn’t feature any padding. Since the 2005 reboot, only The Day of the Doctor is the episode which I would say works perfectly from start to finish, and it’s a shame that the BBC ended their 3D trial because that one was a great example of making an engaging TV sci-fi drama in 3D. But then, given how other 3D trial programmes included the ‘not at all necessary in 3D’ Last Night of the Proms, what can you expect? There is certainly still life in the format, but then there’s also a lot of films produced in 3D where 2D was perfectly satisfactory.
Check below for more pictures from the episode, plus the full cast list.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Screenplay: Steven Moffat
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna Coleman
Madame Vastra: Neve McIntosh
Jenny: Catrin Stewart
Strax: Dan Starkey
Half-Face Man: Peter Ferdinando
Inspector Gregson: Paul Hickey
Alf: Tony Way
Elsie: Maggie Service
Cabbie: Mark Kempner
Barney: Brian Miller
Waiter: Graham Duff
Courtney: Ellis George
Policeman: Peter Hannah
Footman: Paul Kasey
Missy: Michelle Gomez
The Doctor: Matt Smith
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.