A Commentary on “Deep Breath.” Is Doctor Who Alive Yet?

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

doctor-who-1-460x683The energy is not quite there in the Ben Wheatley directed premiere of Doctor Who featuring Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. Either he is having trouble keeping up with the manic persona that Capaldi is playing up or he has no idea in what to do in a steampunk tale where robots are stealing human body organs to insure their survival. This director handles the drama and tension well, but the story just does not work.

The episode written by Steven Moffat is dull and muddled. It can not decide how much time should be spent between the two lead characters figuring out what’s going on or with the Paternoster Gang who does. This trio of characters — Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax — are always a hoot to watch, and to see them return as potential regulars is fantastic.

However, the lack of chemistry between the two mains leads, The Doctor (Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman), is simply not there. There is trouble in their relationship. Clara has only her experience with the prior incarnation and to deal with an utter stranger requires the help of Vastra to explain what’s going on. Even Matt Smith’s Doctor makes a brief return to tell her to hang in there. His future self needs her help a lot more than he realizes. Any notions of romance is tossed out the window now, and the question of whether or not the two can work together will need amendment.

When most of the episode shows this older Doctor running away to be a solo act, the inevitable is going to happen. Clara will wind up leaving the TARDIS sooner than later. Perhaps the announcement that Coleman will be leaving the show was timed so that viewers will not be shocked when the Christmas episode is made and darker revelations of the Doctor’s past are revealed.

“The Doctor is still the Doctor,” says Clara. “He will have my back,” and that’s what he is known to do for all his companions. The question of how reliable he will be towards that fact is drawn into question.

The savior of the galaxy is not without some issues. Some demons will no doubt surface in later episodes as he tries to make amend of his past mistakes. One quick statement is made that will lead into the second episode, “Into the Dalek” and some viewers may well be thinking of “Genesis of the Daleks,” an early Fourth Doctor episode where The Doctor (played by Tom Baker) questions if he has the right to destroy the universe’s greatest exterminators.

But for now, this current incarnation has problems figuring out what his destiny will entail. If “The Day of the Doctor” is any indication, it seems he may be spending a bit of time flying solo, without any companion.

Perhaps the galaxy should be afraid.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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