Sunday, August 24, 2014

And exhale... the wait is over - long live the new Doctor!

New Doctor Who: yes, I'm back!

Knock, knock?  Anybody here?

No?  Someone?  Anyone?  *DOCTOR WHO IS BACK!!!  SO AM I!!!*

Ah well.  That is the downside of getting lost on Facebook, with its snappy quick response mechanisms.  If it was possible to post from FB to here (as it is from Twitter to FB; and oh that it was as easy to post in reverse), then this place would be as full as there.

Anyway: preamble enough!!!

Well?  Did you breathe deep?  How long before you exhaled?  I started inhaling about this quite some time ago, and it was a delirious relief to finally let go of fears, and avoiding spoilers, and just revel in the new episode.

Others will give far more insightful and swift reviews than I can here - Stuart Ian Burns being just the most obvious.  What can I hope to do add blustered thought and contemplations?



Begone if you don't want them.


  • I was distracted before the show started by the credits on Tumble.  Blinked at the spelling of the Series Editor Andrew Cartmell.  No, not that one...
  • The palette of filming is noticeably different.  Creamy, brown, darker than the green/blue tinge of especially Ten and Eleven - it also felt more filmic.  Was that down to Ben Wheatley (director)?  It wasn't just the Victorian setting.
  • The dinosaur really wasn't the star of the show, poor thing.  It was beautiful though. I'm ignoring criticism of the effects budget and I'll just say, she looked great, better than I hoped.  What can I say: I'm still scarred from the hilarity of 'THAT tank' from Robot.  Barfing the TARDIS was a nice touch.
  • Titles: like the clock motifs.  Actually less critical than others have been of the new version of the music (I like there is a touch more electronica to it).  Needs refining though I think.  Still better than the Gavascon titles before the colouring darkened in those final Pond episodes.
  • TBH, Capaldi's Doctor had me at "Shoosh" to Strax.  By the time he was in the TARDIS talking Clara around to staying, I was really excited.  Keep it up, because I am so up for this series working.
  • Scottish.  Love it.  Independent eyebrows vote that this Doctor is a defiant character and not to be trifled with by anyone.  He's not anyone's boyfriend (and that includes Missy).  Michelle Gomez made a brief but startling appearance.  Speculation is everywhere on this Miss... as you can guess.
  • Lots of cross-references back to past tropes from Moffat and RTD: clockwork droids, why THAT face, the momentary Scottish accent from Clara jarring...
  • Yes, the Paternoster gang bring the LOLZ, even if the gender politics are sometimes iffy (at least Moff is being more self-reflexive about the issues).  Yes, Jenny is a maid even in private.  Still that exchange of oxygen a kiss. You have to love a series bringing to the mainstream a lesbian couple where one party is a lizard.  The complainants against 'Howard the Duck' for inter-species sex would be blowing fuses.
  • The sequence with Clara and Madame Vastra was great - no wonder Jenny whooped.  And the veil disappeared.
  • Someone definitely watched mid-1970s Doctor Who ahead of this episode.  Violence (semi-seen), implied violence and gruesome shudders abounded.  Good.  More please.  I keep trying to not think too hard about the skin balloon... *YUK*
  • The restaurant scene was sublime.  Great exchange and fine settings.  Creepy.  Again - more please.

  • Loved it when Clara's hand was taken.  Like we ever doubted it.  (But we did, a little, didn't we?  As we should.)
  • Capaldi seems to be channelling Tom Baker most of all, which feels like a very fan-favourite tack to adopt in light of all the criticism ahead of his performance, but I did like the allusion to Colin Baker ("whether you like it or not").  That retrospectively Colin Baker's Big Finish performances have made his a more supported incarnation seems apt to reference.  Like saying, 'you'll come around eventually, and I'm not sure how much I care in the meantime'.
  • I'm torn about the cameo: I can see why it was felt to be needed, but it also felt out of kilter with the episode's intentions.  I couldn't help but be swept by the appearance of a timey-whimey phone call of reassurance - awh - but it felt too deliberate and calculating to really work.  Still got a touch of grit in my eye.
  • Aside from the episode itself, watch the Doctor Who Confidential Extra.  If only for the moment when Capaldi does the obligatory read-through introduction of himself (after initially trying to duck out of it with a casual "you know who I am".  Take two provides: "I'm Peter Capaldi, and I am The Doctor".  Cue delighted cheers and a head-in-hands moment of seeming embarrassment that equally looks like "Oh My God, I can't believe I've actually got to say that!"
So a fine start: not a perfect episode (could have been a bit shorter, maybe an hour?), but in its favour I didn't even think to look at the time once during the episode.  

Then again Capaldi didn't need to do much to convince me.  Interestingly it was a long-time Who fan friend of mine who was REALLY unconvinced about his casting, having not taken to him in anything else previously - unlike me and H who have long loved and admired his quirky intensity and actorly flex across roles.  Needless to say, PC's love for DW and the long build-up over the summer led to last night creating a maelstrom of emotional reaction coming down in favour of the new guy.  Yay.  Furthermore, H exhaled in relief at having a Doctor she didn't fancy.  I think viewers will always LOVE the Doctor in different ways.  It is what he is.  Not human, but wearing a human face.  Can he ever be what we want him to be?  It depends: but he will always be what we need.

Long live the Doctor!