TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “Deep Breath”

Written by Caitlin Cooper August 24, 2014

Doctor Who

Introducing a new Doctor into this long-running British sci-fi show is always an exciting time. Viewers are torn between missing the previous Doctor, and looking forward to the fresh twist a new actor will bring to our favourite Time Lord. Matt Smith’s Doctor was fun and fast-talking, but his incarnation also brought with it a darker side that we’d only been teased with previously. In “Doctor Who” season 8, we’re joined by the new Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and the Impossible Girl, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) as they navigate uncharted waters: a Doctor so different from anything we’ve seen before, a man who doesn’t remember.


“Doctor Who” season 8 opens with “Deep Breath”, an episode which brings us to Victorian London. The Doctor is confused and speaking in riddles. Clara is in shock from seeing her best friend – and the man she was in love with – regenerate into someone alien to her. In the midst of this, there’s a dinosaur on the loose who can only be understood by the Doctor (who apparently speaks dinosaur). Worst of all, there’s been 9 cases of spontaneous combustion in one month. Something wicked this way comes. It’s up to the Doctor and his companion to solve this mystery before more citizens of London are killed.

“The game is afoot. We’re going to need a lot of tea.”

The 2013 “Doctor Who” Christmas special – called “The Time of the Doctor” – was an absolute mess of an episode. In it Smith’s incarnation of the Doctor regenerates into Capaldi’s Doctor. The episode left me feeling angry because it didn’t do the eleventh Doctor justice; instead of a fun, fast-talking man who fights to save people from evil aliens, we got a characterization that was nothing short of ridiculous (for most of the episode). My faith in the writing of “Doctor Who” has been restored with the first episode of season 8. It strikes the perfect balance of comedy and drama. Commander Strax is, as usual, a comic relief. But Clara and the Doctor also provide witty one-liners. Also, we’ve got a Doctor who can’t remember things he should never have forgotten, and this makes for an interesting character. Here we really get the chance to begin to learn who he’s become, and recognize what hasn’t changed about him. A phone call from Smith’s Doctor gave me closure with Eleven, and provides a sweet moment between Clara and the Doctor (both of them).

Doctor Who

One of the biggest story-lines introduced is the tension between Clara and the Doctor. He’s the same person in some ways: he’ll always be there to save her, he still cares about her, and he’s still determined to help those in need. Clara is almost as lost as the Doctor seems. She doesn’t know who he is in this incarnation. He seems more blunt and less affectionate than the Doctor who first whisked her away on adventures through time and space. He can’t recall some things like how to fly the Tardis, and he speaks in confused riddles. There’s also a surprisingly vulnerable aspect to him that’s slowly revealed over the course of the episode. He doesn’t want to lose Clara just because he’s changed.

“Please just see me.”

What’s great about this episode is that Clara is given the room to grow as a character. In season 7 – in an episode called “The Name of the Doctor” – she went back in time to save each of the Doctor’s incarnations, but she hasn’t taken as much control over saving the day since then. In “Deep Breath”, however, she’s left to save herself from the villain once the Doctor leaves her trapped. She almost successfully escapes, and then she is smart enough to engage the villain in verbal sparring in order to save her life or, at the very least, stall him. Something even more wonderful and brave that she does is that she puts her faith in the Doctor again. Mostly, we see Clara as the Doctor sees her, as someone who is vital to the story.

Doctor Who

Overall, “Doctor Who” season 8, episode 1 is a wonderful start to a new season of time and space adventures. Clara is a clear heroine, and the Doctor isn’t as unfamiliar as he first seems. We’re also given some closure for the previous incarnation of the Doctor which is a balm for the messy regeneration episode. Season 8 of “Doctor Who” promises to be exciting, funny, and dark which is a winning combination for this British sci-fi show.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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