I’m sure I’m not the only one who already feels like Peter Capaldi has already been the Doctor for a long time now. By the end of “Deep Breath” his performance felt both familiar and fresh at the same time. I’m not sure what more one could ask for from a transition than that very feeling I just described. I can’t go so far as to say that the transition has been seamless; to do so would be ignoring how dissatisfied I was with “The Time of the Doctor,” but I will say that on this back-end of the change, on the transition from one Doctor I liked immensely to one I was giddily excited for did not disappoint.
I think I’m really going to enjoy watching Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. This is not simply Malcolm Tucker as the Doctor; this is a seasoned veteran with considerable comedic and dramatic chops fitting flawlessly into a role that requires an abundance of both. The goofy and dryly humorous moments alike were both hit out of the park by Capaldi, made all the more funny with the eccentricity with which he’s chosen to play the Doctor. There really is so much to be excited for here. Even something as simple as allowing him to keep his Scottish accent adds so many layers to this latest iteration of a most exceptional character.
The episode itself was a bit uneven but ultimately rewarding and served as a fitting introduction to XII, the scared and lonely dinosaur trapped out of time in London providing some symbolism on that front. I’m a great admirer of “The Girl In The Fireplace” and was excited to see those organ harvesting droids reemerge after all this time, providing even more symbolism with this newest Doctor cobbled together from “old parts” (Capaldi’s past appearances on Who and Torchwood, Amy’s accent (even though they don’t have the “same” Scottish accent, they’re both explicitly Scottish)).
I have yet to be sold on Clara, but I liked her a lot more in “Deep Breath”, partly because I think Capaldi and Coleman’s chemistry is stronger than was hers and Matt Smith’s. Odd as it may sound, one reason for this, in my opinion, is the distance at which this Doctor keeps her at almost reflexively. Perhaps understandably given how Amy went out, XI always seemed overprotective of Clara, which she seemed to settle into, to be fair. There was a feeling in this episode of Clara trying to cling on to the past version of the Doctor vicariously through the new version, whereas it almost seemed as if XII was trying to assert his independence from his companion, perhaps in an attempt to figure out exactly who he is in his latest incarnation. This is important for both the character within the diegesis and the audience being introduced to this new Doctor.
I absolutely loved the upstairs restaurant sequence after the Doctor and Clara both responded to the newspaper add. They were both hilarious here, Capaldi playing a spot-on deadpan straight man. This was the scene where I really fell in love with this Doctor. I didn’t have any hesitation going in having been a fan of his from his work on The Thick Of It and In The Loop, but this was the moment where I really bought-in.
I had been eagerly anticipating Capaldi’s Doctor since the announcement and so far he hasn’t disappointed. I’m so glad that Who is back and I’m wicked excited to see where this season goes overall. Please excuse me while I go prepare for Daleks.