Doctor Who: Deep Breath
August 24, 2014 6:30 AM - Season 8, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In Victorian London, the Paternoster Gang, comprising of Silurian Madame Vastra, her human maid and wife Jenny, and Sontaran butler Strax, are summoned by the police force when a dinosaur suddenly materialises outside the Houses of Parliament. Vastra observes that the dinosaur has something stuck in its throat, and moments later it spits out the TARDIS onto the banks of the Thames.



Things
  • The story's premier broadcast date, 23 August, is the same date as the in-universe setting of The Fires of Pompeii, in which Peter Capaldi made his first appearance in Doctor Who as Lobus Caecilius.
  • This episode saw the debut of a new title sequence designed by Billy Hanshaw after executive producer Steven Moffat saw a video of his conceptual Doctor Who titles sequence on YouTube and decided to draft him aboard to do a professional version of his sequence.
  • When Clara sees the improved console room, she says, "You've redecorated... I don't like it." This was said verbatim by both the Second and Tenth Doctors at the sight of new TARDIS console designs. (The Three Doctors, The Day of the Doctor) The Second and Eleventh Doctors have also said this about redecorated houses. (The Five Doctors, Closing Time)
  • The Doctor states that he is over 2,000 years old. He once said he was over 1,200 years old ( A Town Called Mercy). After adding the 900 years he spent in the Siege of Trenzalore to the aforementioned 1,200 or so, (The Time of the Doctor), his age increases past 2,000.
  • After seeing new Doctor, Madame Vastra says "Well then, Here we go again.", just like the Brigadier did. (Planet of the Spiders)
posted by Just this guy, y'know (143 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I watched last night with a room full of Whovians and boy, was it fun. I'll need to see it again to really digest it all but I thought overall it was good. And man, oh man, did I ever cry when Matt Smith showed up. That was a lovely touch, I think. Got Clara to trust him again.

At the end in "heaven," where have I seen the woman before? Was it on Doctor Who? I know the location was from 'The Girl Who Waited,' but I know I've seen her somewhere and I just can't place her.
posted by cooker girl at 6:38 AM on August 24, 2014


That was Michelle Gomez who you may know as Sue White from "the Green Wing"
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, that last Matt Smith scene worked for me better than his entire final episode did. Not sure what I think of Capaldi yet; this is the first of the New-Who regenerations where I can't really feel the connection to the previous Doctors. Maybe it's because I'm not particularly interested in Clara as a companion.

Always nice to see Vastra, Jenny, & Strax at least.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:50 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Colin Baker seems to approve, which seems fitting given his opinion of how the Doctor ought to be.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:54 AM on August 24, 2014


I like Capaldi, glad that they went with an older actor. He seems more like someone who could have been in one of the older series than the nu-Who.

I hope that the stores get a little better than that one though, it seemed underwritten.
posted by octothorpe at 7:01 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Capaldi is great, but I could do without another of Moffat's love letters to himself. Madame Vashtra's a lot less entertaining when she's Sherlock in green makeup.
posted by peppermind at 7:12 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was charmed by Capaldi, but felt like the rest of it was sort of a letdown. Vastra's teardown of Clara felt both out of character and a little too close to Moffat chiding fangirls, and the repeated (and then repeated some more) "married!" comments grated, as did the weirdly slapsticky newpaper to the face.

I want to like the Matt Smith scene, but I feel not great about the part where Clara is effectively told to go with the new doctor, despite her misgivings about it. Twelve is even more afraid than she is? Really? He just abandoned her to presumptive death, and then ditched her (again) in Victorian London. He, on the other hand, is over two thousand years old and has regenerated a dozen damn times. What's he scared of? Regeneration has never been terrifying before--sad and full of wibbles, sure, but not scary.

Re: The woman in the garden at the end: she was played by Michelle Gomez, who's not a Who alum--I did, however, think at first that she looked an awful lot like Madame Kovarian.
posted by MeghanC at 7:35 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thank you, jtgyk! That's how I know her!
posted by cooker girl at 7:42 AM on August 24, 2014


In many ways, this episode seemed to be more about Clara than the Doctor. It looks like Moffat is moving to dismantle the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, or if not, at least deepen Clara's character into a character who is far more interesting.

I absolutely loved Capaldi and I'm really encouraged by the way Moffat directly used his age and maturity. It's clear we're done with Peter Pan Doctor and we're moving into a Doctor who is not going to be afraid to hurt someone. That look on Capaldi's face right after he threw robot dude out of the capsule of the skin balloon was chilling. Although the Doctor mentioned something about hoping robot guy was going to be able to survive the Doctor's plan, that look gave me the sense that this Doctor is fully prepared to go places the other Doctor's would not have even considered. I got the distinct sense that had Capaldi been in the War Doctor's shoes, the 50th anniversary episode might have turned out differently, which is why he's going to need Clara.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:06 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


While the plot was absolutely ludicrous, I was willing to let it go because, well, Moffat seems incapable of writing anything else these days. Well, sort of. Capaldi's acting made it worth the watch, though I kind of felt that Matt's cameo stole the show.

The fight scene was an embarrassment. The headless monks back at Demon's Run were far more formidable opponents IMO and the Paternoster Gang didn't hold back. Here though, a few clockwork droids and they seem to crumble. I mean, did Strax forget how to use that gun or something? Did Moffat even forget that all the nasty stuff can happen out-of-view and you can still make a good fight sequence?
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 8:09 AM on August 24, 2014


Aside from a few hiccups, I loved it. Capaldi is great in the role as I hoped he would be, and I liked they addressed the whole "but he's old!" issue, which was a bit of a thing amongst the much younger than me female demographic of the show.

I love Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax, but much like interesting characters Moffat creates, he overuses them to the point it's less joy to see them and more "didn't we see you not too long ago?"
posted by Kitteh at 8:10 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's just something wrong with two hours of Peter Capaldi not swearing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:11 AM on August 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I was charmed by Capaldi, but felt like the rest of it was sort of a letdown. Vastra's teardown of Clara felt both out of character and a little too close to Moffat chiding fangirls, and the repeated (and then repeated some more) "married!" comments grated, as did the weirdly slapsticky newpaper to the face.

I had the same reaction. Once Capaldi finalized into being the Doctor, I definitely liked him and I can't wait to see more of him as the Doctor. The rest of the episode was just kind of jumbled and despite watching it with little to no distraction, I had a hard time caring about what was going on. The dinosaur was literally a big unnecessary distraction because it was introduced with great aplomb and then pretty much sidelined to roar distractingly until it died only to help show how terrible the villain of the episode was. There were scenes, scattered throughout, in which the characters or the show was fun, and incidentally, they appeared further into the episode as we moved away from all the hectic setting of things up.

The fight scene was an embarrassment.

You can't get much better of an example of, "Close up shots, hide the fact that this fight scene is terrible!" than what we saw. I agree.

The Matt Smith cameo wasn't bad.

I think there was probably a good one hour episode in the jumble of the premier of the new Doctor, and it's too bad they couldn't figure that out. I think the future episodes will be better. I really liked Capaldi, so it should be a fun ride.
posted by Atreides at 8:20 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I liked the episode, if only on the "introduce the new Doctor" level. The story was pretty forgettable. Throughout the first half or so of the show, while the Doctor was deep into trying to make sense of himself, I was having some serious, emotional responses to his performance. The way his mind kept jumping around from one unrelated thought to another, while trying to make sense of it all, reminded me greatly of listening to my mother (who has Alzheimer's) try to have a conversation. It was so dead-on, it was unnerving.

Liked seeing the Paternosters again. Unfortunately, rumor has it that will be their only appearance this series.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:22 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really hope they come back and address the way that the Doctor abandoned Clara at some point, beyond "he's scared". We got to see her step up and be awesome, which was fun, but I don't want her to reset off-screen, and forget to be angry/mistrustful based on that.

I liked the acknowledgement that we've seen this face before. It's a tiny thing, but it helps to keep the universe consistent. (Which, I know, is a futile hope in most of Doctor Who). As a side note, anyone who hasn't seen Torchwood's Children of Earth should really give it a go. There's no need to be familiar with or even like the rest of Torchwood (I'm not and don't), it's a great standalone miniseries, and Capaldi is brilliant as John Frobisher.

There were a few moments that felt quite clever. I want to re-watch it, but the one that sticks out in my mind is the Doctor talking to Chief Evil Robot about the broom: after changing and rebuilding so many times, is he really the same Evil Robot (...or Doctor)? Showing us the Doctor's reflection as he said it was laying it on a bit thick, perhaps, but I enjoyed it and it fit well with the uncertainty that comes with regeneration.

I like that they left the end of that confrontation ambiguous, too, and the Doctor's dark look into the camera afterward. I've always wanted the Doctor to be a darker and more morally ambiguous character (Eccleston was the best for this in nuWho, IMO), and while they can't go *too* far down that path in a kids' show, it's nice to see a step or two in that direction.
posted by metaBugs at 8:25 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


In many ways, this episode seemed to be more about Clara than the Doctor. It looks like Moffat is moving to dismantle the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, or if not, at least deepen Clara's character into a character who is far more interesting.

I kinda agree with this, because I cannot stand Clara. Last series Clara was my least favourite companion of all time. This Clara I mind a lot less.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


This episode did nothing to improve my opinion of Clara or my opinion of Moffat's writing abilities, especially when it comes to female characters, and very especially when it comes to that awful "He's not your boyfriend" speech. What the hell was all that?

However, Capaldi is freaking brilliant, and I hope that even as his Doctor settles into his new life, he continues to be as ever-so-unhinged. Ben Wheatley is a strange choice for directing Doctor Who episodes, especially ones as run-of-the-mill as this, and he's not really good at action scenes, but it was lovely to see his style really come out during the whole "Hold your breath" scene.

So, again, I spent most of the episode muttering "Jesus Christ, Moffat, what the hell," but still enjoying it.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:28 AM on August 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


The Eleventh Doctor cameo nearly broke me. I knew it was in there (the Internet spoiled me weeks ago on that), but I'd read that it was a voicemail message the Doctor left for Clara. I wasn't expecting to actually see him again and for it to be a live conversation. I sat bolt upright in my recliner when he appeared onscreen.

As for the Twelfth Doctor, he finally clicked for me when he offered the Half Face Man a drink. It seems that every regeneration story gives the new Doctor a line of dialog that establishes his character and this episode did not disappoint in that regard.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:28 AM on August 24, 2014


I missed a very good fact for the top:

The tramp the Doctor was talking to is played by Brian Miller, veteran of Classic who (Snakedance/Remembrance of the Daleks/Resurrection of the Daleks) and Elisabeth Sladen's husband.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:39 AM on August 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


Did anyone else catch the "Sometimes I miss Amy." line the Doctor muttered when Clara was trying to get at the Doctor's screwdriver with her foot? I thought that was a really cruel line (on more than a few levels) but now that I think about it, it kind of ties into the Doctor abandoning Clara, forcing her to step-up, put his subtle hints together, and get herself out of there, however briefly.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:50 AM on August 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


Wasn't it because Amy had notably long legs?
(And Clara was trying to reach the screwdriver at her feet)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:52 AM on August 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


I suppose you could read it like that. That hadn't occurred to me, since Coleman's wardrobe on the show has always seemed to specifically accentuate her own legginess (Victorian garb notwithstanding) She's never seemed to be particularly leggy-challenged to me.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:56 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


This episode did nothing to improve my opinion of Clara or my opinion of Moffat's writing abilities, especially when it comes to female characters, and very especially when it comes to that awful "He's not your boyfriend" speech. What the hell was all that?


Well, for me, as much as I enjoyed Matt Smith's run, he very much became the Boyfriend Doctor for the most of it. Even the new Doctor mentions that he made the mistake of acting like more like a romantic figure towards her than capricious adventurer. I'm hoping that this speech acts as a "less super flirting" and "more interesting Donna-type relationship" momentum.
posted by Kitteh at 8:58 AM on August 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


Loves:‎

Endless re-generations. Is he still the Doctor or a broom?

‎A proper Doctor, not a weird-looking 12-yr old.

The (sorta) kiss. 

Call back to (S.S.) Mdm de ‎Pompadour. I just wish Capaldi hadn't dismissed it. (For this is Versailles and we are French!)‎

Call back to Tennant's "Awww" and Baker's scarf and the silly bowtie Doctor. 

The new Tardis. I'm on the fence with new open, though. 

The relationship between Madame Vastra and Jenny.‎ Plus Vastra's great lines and skilled delivery of them. ("Your grasp of biology, it troubles me.)

The coat. Very Timelord. 

The newspaper hitting Clara in the head. ‎

Making an old plot new again. 

"The Promised Land/Heaven." I'm looking forward to where this leads. ‎(The actress was excellent in The Green Wing. Worth the DVD.)

The filming of the hold your breath scene.

Not telling the audience whether the cyborg was pushed or if he jumped.

Capaldi's breaking of the 4th wall immediately after. It was weird, though. Is that the first time a Doctor has done that?

Hates:‎
The fight scene really needed another director. That was terrible.

A lot of scenes needed establishing shots. They were too zoomed in and you couldn't get a sense of the location. For instance, when Clara was trapped with the cyborg there was no impression they were in the same room.

Weird-looking 12-yr old won't stay gone. Go away already. 

Begging Clara to stay. No. Just, no. How many companions have you had? Dude, you were less emotional over your damn WIFE. Remember her? Back when you were an adult? 
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:00 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


One thing I really liked...No running down halls screaming. And, come to think of it, no "Doctor manically runs around spouting gibberish monologue while waving screwdriver everywhere" climax. It was all very...adult...for once.

Though, I am trying to figure out where he found his screwdriver. It's first appearance, I believe, was just after he jumped onto the horse, wearing only a nightshirt.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


She's never seemed to be particularly leggy-challenged to me.

Capaldi has a line where he says that Clara is five-one.

Clara being forced to be clever and step up is a good thing the companions can sometimes be very passive.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:07 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maybe the same place Captain Jack kept his gun in the first series.
posted by Kitteh at 9:08 AM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Running down halls is a Who staple. Savor this moment while you can.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:09 AM on August 24, 2014


Capaldi's breaking of the 4th wall immediately after. It was weird, though. Is that the first time a Doctor has done that?

Well, there was that time the Doctor was celebrating Christmas with his companions and then turned to camera to say "happy Christmas to you all at home".
posted by bebrogued at 9:15 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Which ep was that?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2014


I liked the acknowledgement that we've seen this face before.
There was a sidebar a while back about Moffat asking RTD if his idea about the same faces popping up now and again would still work. It still does, so I guess we'll see it play out over a few episodes.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2014


Which ep was that?

The Feast of Steven, Christmas 1965.

I liked this new episode. The character stuff (which Ben Wheatley is very good at) was obviously considered to be more important than the action (which he's not good at), and quite right, too. But then I'm the kind of person who enjoys it when they try a new kind of film grading (the muted sepia tones).

One problem the series has had is that it's constantly needing to go HIGHER and FASTER than last time. There are physical limits to higher and faster, so I'm glad they've taken the opportunity to slow down a bit - a little more detail to the Paternosters (even Strax had something approaching a psychology for a bit), and stuff like the conversation with the tramp.

Neil Perryman tweeted earlier on that Sue's reaction was "Is it The Master?", which is, of course, her catchphrase, but I found the idea hugely amusing. If there's anyone who's qualified to call The Doctor their boyfriend, it's The Master.
posted by Grangousier at 10:09 AM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Missy is short for Mistress.....
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:10 AM on August 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


I would like Missy to be the Rani, but maybe that's asking too much.
posted by Kitteh at 10:12 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: "There's just something wrong with two hours of Peter Capaldi not swearing."

I think he was swearing on the inside.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re: The woman in the garden at the end: she was played by Michelle Gomez, who's not a Who alum--I did, however, think at first that she looked an awful lot like Madame Kovarian.

At first I thought she might be Tasha Lem. Her referring to the Doctor as her boyfriend makes me wonder if she is actually an aspect of the TARDIS, sort of like Idris. If she is a Time Lady then I hope she turns out to be the Rani rather than the Master/Mistress again.
posted by homunculus at 10:24 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


While I would like to see some exploration of how regeneration plays into Time Lord gender identity (personally and culturally), I'm not sure I trust Moffat to handle that with any sensitivity -- and I really don't like the idea of the Master and the Doctor's barely subtextual relationship becoming text the moment one of them is played by a woman. Also, for all of "The End of Time's" many, many, many failings, it did set up two great hooks for future stories with the Master: what kind of trouble will he get up to on Gallifrey? And now that the drums are gone and he's realized how much the course of his life has been affected by the manipulations of Rassilon, where will he go next? Having him go straight back to nefarious scheming would be such a waste.
posted by bettafish at 10:32 AM on August 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


I found the episode a mixed bag, but I'm going to want to have lunch with my friend who's a big Wheatley fan to discuss what she thought his contributions to it were.

One of my biggest problems with Nu Who in general is that it wants to spend time on Character instead of letting characters reveal who they are through action. This episode suffered from a bit of that, and my $DEITY do I wish the show would shut up about whether or not the Doctor is the companion's boyfriend. If you really want to show that they're not, just show them working together and not flirting for a while.

The Matt Smith cameo didn't work for me at all, and I really liked Matt Smith. I know it's a kid's show and needs to be straightforward and upfront sometimes, but that was too unsubtle for me.
posted by immlass at 10:51 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I liked the episode overall. I like these characters, the actors were allowed to act instead of run around in circles shouting their lines, and Capaldi's Doctor is intriguing. The plot was kinda throwaway, which was acceptable because no one would be watching this episode for its story anyway, but was a little disappointing. But okay.

The emphasis on how old Capaldi is really bothered me a lot. For one thing, we're acting like this charismatic, good-looking dude is Grandpa Simpson; for another, we're acting like Clara doesn't completely understand regeneration, and also like the previous Doctor didn't become ancient and wizened, only to get all youthful again in the last moments of his life; and for yet another, Clara just seems like a shallow jerk or something. It's a plot point that is awful and dumb, and occupies a huge amount of time in the episode. Matt Smith's call was a great moment because Matt Smith is awesome, but he should have been given something better to do than assure Clara (and the audience) that this guy is still the Doctor. Capaldi certainly has the confidence. Why doesn't the show have the confidence in him?

And I have to say that the coda filled me with dread. I'm not familiar with the actress, and I'm relieved people dig her. Because what I saw coming was a character that mashed up River Song with Madame Iforgethernameian, and that isn't something that I am very excited about at all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:23 AM on August 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


The emphasis on how old Capaldi is really bothered me a lot.

I read somewhere when Capaldi was cast that some young Whovians were upset that someone older had been cast as the Doctor, as opposed to another Tennant or Smith. I had the feeling throughout this episode that Moffat was trying to explain to them why they should accept Capaldi.
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I remember from when I was young that even though we were completely au-fair with the whole regeneration thing, and we knew what was going to happen there was always a time when the new Doctor was just ... wrong. Jon Pertwee was just wrong for a bit, and Tom Baker (though not for very long, although some people took weeks to get over the change), and Peter Davison and Colin Baker never really grew out of it. I wonder if it's a reference to that.
posted by Grangousier at 12:34 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I read somewhere when Capaldi was cast that some young Whovians were upset that someone older had been cast as the Doctor, as opposed to another Tennant or Smith. I had the feeling throughout this episode that Moffat was trying to explain to them why they should accept Capaldi.

IIRC, when bets were being placed about who was going to replace Smith, Capaldi I think was one of the odds, but a long one. A lot of the names bandied about were youngish guys, with the exception of a few well known mildly famous favorites (James Nesbit was one of them, I believe, and I really like him).
posted by Kitteh at 12:41 PM on August 24, 2014


There is a need in any post-regeneration episode to reset audience expectations, so getting viewers to accept that an older Doctor who is not going to be your boyfriend was almost the point of the episode. However, the way it was handled was pretty blunt and heavy-handed. I mean, they not only repeated the Doctor being older and not being a boyfriend several times, they did the same for Jenny and Vastra saying they were married. Other than that clumsiness I found the episode to be enjoyable.
posted by plastic_animals at 12:50 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I read somewhere when Capaldi was cast that some young Whovians were upset that someone older had been cast as the Doctor, as opposed to another Tennant or Smith. I had the feeling throughout this episode that Moffat was trying to explain to them why they should accept Capaldi."

On some level, yes, but on another it's an affirmation to fans that it's natural for them to be apprehensive about a change on this level and missing Smith doesn't make them shallow or "bad fans". And by fans I really mean female fans, because they're the ones who get the "no true fan" policing. If a man's favorite Doctor is Tennant or Smith, it's uncontroversial; if a woman's favorite Doctor is Tennant or Smith, her opinion's immediately suspect and she's obviously one of those fake geek girls who's only into the show because the Doctor is hawwwwwwt. Meanwhile any companion who shows the remotest attraction to the Doctor -- except for Jack Harkness, hmm -- gets the same pushback.

So, yeah, the Vastra/Clara argument was a little too obviously a proxy for fandom drama. But I cheered along with Jenny when Clara called Vastra out for projecting because that's exactly what people are doing when they try to close the gate against the "wrong" kind of female fan.

Given that Moffat himself has taken part in fandom gatekeeping before, this may even be a form of apology, although a mixed one considering his continued lack of awareness in other parts of the episode.
posted by bettafish at 1:12 PM on August 24, 2014 [14 favorites]


James Nesbit was one of them

Oooooh, Nesbitt reviving his Jekyll performance as the new Master...!
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:27 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


On some level, yes, but on another it's an affirmation to fans that it's natural for them to be apprehensive about a change on this level and missing Smith doesn't make them shallow or "bad fans". And by fans I really mean female fans, because they're the ones who get the "no true fan" policing.

They do, but to me -- and mind you, I am a male fan, and don't mean to speak for female fans, because, like...I can't -- it seemed like the show's fear that an older Doctor will cost it female fans accepts that this is a possibility, which itself seems...problematic. What does that say about how the show reads its fanbase? I feel like...I don't know. Are there any women employed writing this show now? I think that might be a good way to ensure the show is reaching out to a female audience.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:29 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's the female audience, per se. It seems to be the age of a certain portion of their female fans.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 2:43 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


New Who's always had an unusually permeable relationship with fandom (for TV, anyway; less so if you compare it to superhero comics or other long-running serial narratives) because it's by fandom as much as for it. Considering how pervasive and largely unacknowledged the anti-Tennant/Smith fangirl attitude has been, I'm okay with raising the issue explicitly in order to shut it down.

I also agree with you that the lack of female writers on the show is a serious and shamful ongoing problem (at least there are two female directors this series) and I think my comments make it clear that I'm only giving Moffat so much credit for a nice but small gesture while there continue to be pervasive gender issues with his tenure, behind and in front of the camera.
posted by bettafish at 2:56 PM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


I drifted away some time during the Matt Smith/Karen Gillian era I guess. I must have missed quite a bit since I had no idea who any of these people were. That said, I enjoyed the story well enough. Especially the scene where it's a question of which of them are lying about their "basic programming."

I like Capaldi a lot. He brings back some of the inherent menace of The Doctor that was so apparent in the Eccleston and Tennant eras but faded during the Smith episodes.

The new T.A.R.D.I.S. is okay. The new opening is fine, but the new theme is terrible.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:53 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


The new opening and theme are great. They remind me of the Tom Baker-era open. I highly approve.
posted by grubi at 6:07 PM on August 24, 2014


Half of the episode was lacklustre plot. The other half was Moffat telling his fans to stop being such bad fans and that everyone was wrong for caring so much about who would be the new Doctor.

1% was Capaldi's eyebrows.
posted by jeather at 6:09 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Capaldi was great, the writing was meh at best and oh got that fight scene - it felt like the cameraman was struggling more valiantly than any of the combatants. I was annoyed about Clara having an issue with the regeneration - considering what she's seen, she should be the perfect companion to be there when the Doctor regenerates. She's seen 'em all. And I was hoping, in vain I know, that we wouldn't have a super mysterious thing carrying over all season long but the tag at the end dashed those hopes.

Not a strong start but I'll keep watching and hoping.
posted by charred husk at 6:32 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just popping in to plug, for Toronto-area MeFites, that we're going to watch Deep Breath on the big screen this coming Saturday.

And now I'm removing this from my RA. Be back in a week!
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:48 PM on August 24, 2014


This felt like one half of a mostly-finished draft padded out with the remnants of a couple of first drafts. There were some good bits in there, but the crap like the cartoon sound effect and the slapstick Doctor-falls-through-a-tree needed another few passes.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:14 PM on August 24, 2014


It was mentioned in Day of the Doctor that Clara retains little memory of what happened when the Clara splinters were in the Doctor's time stream. From meeting Ten and the War Doctor in Day she knows he looks/acts different when he regenerates, but she doesn't know much about the process.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:55 PM on August 24, 2014


Didn't enjoy this until we got to 12 trying to figure out "why *this* face?" and the angry eyebrows. Really could have done without being lectured on why we shouldn't care about the Doctor's looks, but I like Vastra's idea that the recent young faces (pretty sure she was including 10 there) were an attempt to charm people.

Was anyone else put off by the way Vastra treats Jenny? She seemed more like a sitcom husband than an alien lesbian to me.

But overall I think I'm going to enjoy Capaldi in the role, especially if as someone said earlier it leads to more of a 10/Donna style friendship than a not-quite-romance that takes up too much time.
posted by harriet vane at 8:00 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thus opening the gates to a thousand pages of Vastra/Jenny D/s fanfic...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:15 PM on August 24, 2014


I wanted so very much to like this, but the writing was badbadbad. As somebody who is not up on the characters or canon, I don't want to be completely mystified. Moffat needs an editor! Less dialogue, less music, fewer cliches (falling out of a tree?). Capaldi can almost make it work, but yeesh, I hope it gets better from here. And the cameo from Matt Smith made me cringe.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:22 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


The way Vastra treated Jenny was puzzling. It seemed like it was leading somewhere, like Jenny telling Vastra off, but the payoff never arrived. Maybe a scene got cut? Without that payoff there wasn't any point to the tension. Why building something up if it is not going to be addressed? What makes it odder is that it doesn't look like the Paternoster gang will be back this season so we are left with Vastra treating Jenny poorly for no apparent reason.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:23 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Loved Capaldi in the second season of The Hour, but that was cancelled, of course. I can't bring myself to watch him in a Moffat penned or showrunned Who and so thank you for the helpful comments that confirm this. I was actually kind of concerned that my giving up on the series because it's basically just a bunch of characters who speak like Upworthy headlines would cause some hurt to my family, who are life long Whovians but it turns out they completely understand.
posted by juiceCake at 8:27 PM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


"This felt like one half of a mostly-finished draft padded out with the remnants of a couple of first drafts."

That's the entire Moffat era, really.

I had to google to "recall" what had happened at Trenzalore and I square-quote that because, frankly, I feel as if I never saw the episode in the first place. I did, of course. (Only months ago!) But this just made me realize how truly forgettable the show has been for the almost all of Moffat's era. This has to be partly me, of course, but I have pretty strong retention for this sort of thing and it's really weird to me that I forget so much of this show now, even though I still consider it one of my favorite shows.

And I think it's because it mostly doesn't make sense. I know I am only repeating the common wisdom about Moffat, but it really seems to me that every talent he has that's remarkable needs someone else to keep it in check. Because other than his truly impressive skills at coming up with great ideas and some character moments, he's utterly unable to tie this stuff together in a way that doesn't feel amateurish.

It's so frustrating to me because if there weren't still some magical and compelling stuff there, I'd have given up on the show a long time ago.

As most people seem to think, Moffat-era companions are mostly pretty lifeless and useless. There were some aspects of both Amy and Rory I liked, and I really liked the idea of them as companions that were a couple and how that changed-up the formula. But so much else was bungled with them and, well, Cora is just awful. I liked her only right at the beginning because, basically, she pushes some of my straight, male buttons but that wore off eventually once she proved to just be a continuing plot device.

Likewise, I think that Capaldi is a nice change. Moffat has good ideas, he just doesn't execute them very well.

"Considering how pervasive and largely unacknowledged the anti-Tennant/Smith fangirl attitude has been, I'm okay with raising the issue explicitly in order to shut it down."

I don't doubt that there's sexism involved in this stuff because, well, sexism is prevalent. But being resistant to pretty much any new incarnation of the Doctor on the basis of feeling an attraction to the previous actor/character is -- I'm hesitant to say this -- being a bad fan. I mean, the essence of the Doctor in Doctor Who is that the Doctor regenerates and has regenerated and he changes but also is essentially the same.

I'd very much feel the same way as a straight man were there a female Doctor, as I hope there soon will be. There's quite a few fictional characters that I find to be attractive in this sense, but I hope that's not primarily why I'm a fan and, anyway, none that I can think of are characters built around reincarnating as different version of the same person. I can imagine a female Doctor that I'd be very attracted to, and that would be fine, but it would be silly were I to dislike the show when the Doctor regenerates into someone that I don't find sexually attractive.

The arguments against a female Doctor are sexist in the other way, and both those ways of thinking about the Doctor are in contradiction to the essence of the character. The Doctor changes, but is essentially the same. This is a truly powerful and interesting idea and it is unnecessarily straight-jacketed in not exploring what it would mean for the Doctor to be more diverse than the Doctor's been, starting with either a gender or race change, but there are more possibilities.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:36 PM on August 24, 2014


The way Vastra treated Jenny was puzzling. It seemed like it was leading somewhere, like Jenny telling Vastra off, but the payoff never arrived.

I seriously suspect it was intended not as a plot point but as comedy, a big ol' sexist joke, complicated just a bit by the "husband" position in the joke being occupied by a (lizard) woman.

I think maybe more than half of the scripts in the Moffat era have had at least one totally unnecessary, completely out of left field sexist joke in them? Sometimes it's a "men-are-like-this, amirite" joke but usually it's a "woman-are-like-that, amirite" joke. And it's always inane and frustrating.

I think this episode had more, something directed at Clara maybe, but I don't remember what it was now.
posted by nobody at 9:26 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I don't doubt that there's sexism involved in this stuff because, well, sexism is prevalent. But being resistant to pretty much any new incarnation of the Doctor on the basis of feeling an attraction to the previous actor/character is -- I'm hesitant to say this -- being a bad fan."

Why is it worse to be resistant to a new Doctor because you're attracted to the previous actor than any other reason, though? And: in an otherwise identical alternate universe where the Doctor was always played by female actors, do you think straight male fans would get as much sneering for admitting they're attracted to this or that actress and are reluctant to see them leave? Do you think male fans would feel pressured to prove their credibility (perhaps by putting down other male fans) because the default assumption is that they're only there for the eyecandy (and assumed to be straight regardless of their actual sexuality, just because they're dudes)?

Because that's what it's like being a female Doctor Who fan -- not in every fannish space, but in enough of them. Sexism isn't "involved," it's the root of the issue.
posted by bettafish at 9:34 PM on August 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Being a control freak and ego maniac were the things directed at Clara.
posted by mlis at 10:16 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Too much slapstick, not enough plot that made any sense. (How do you recover an optic nerve from an incinerated anything, anyway? How do you stop the burning before everything's too charred? There aren't so many fire extinguishers in Victorian London. Besides that, what did the "spontaneous" combustion have to do with anything, especially since Head Robot only needed to use his special eye tongs to steal the eye(s) from the guy at the beginning?)

I found the skin balloon especially creepy. I guess that's something? I've read some criticism about there not being much dark skin in the balloon's, um, fabric. I thought it was actually a bit darker than I expected it to be. (Not a lot - just a bit.)

I'm not at all looking forward to more Missy. Why have all that boyfriend crap between Clara and the Doctor when you're just going to bring someone else in to talk about him as her boyfriend?
posted by minsies at 12:36 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


The "spontaneous combustion" did not come first. Burning their victims was how the robots hid evidence of their body part snatching.
posted by plastic_animals at 1:27 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ah. Shows how much I pay attention! Oops.
posted by minsies at 2:20 AM on August 25, 2014


The "ZOMG HE'S OLD" treatment of Capaldi was both insulting and puzzling: why cater to whovians who are that shallow? The endless, "he has lines on his face - WHY?" and time we wasted on that made Clara seem like a shallow twit - and apart from this, this was the first time I really warmed to Clara and thought she was bordering on awesome!

Everything in this comment, seconded.

I really enjoyed the "lowbrow" humor like Strax tossing the newspaper up at Clara and bopping her - made me laugh quite a bit but I had had some beer by that point. Also very much impressed with the actress playing Lady Vastra - acting under all that makeup cannot be easy and she kills it.

I think this is the most I've enjoyed a Moffat episode. Capaldi and Jenna Coleman have an incredible chemistry, far better than Smith and Coleman: witness the restaurant banter - wonderful stuff and I was laughing my head off.

So excited for this series.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:37 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I liked the line about the new "round things" in the TARDIS, as a call back to the first Doctor's TARDIS with its walls of round things that had no purpose.
posted by dnash at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


So this idea that the Doctor gets to choose his new face -- that seems new, no? (ISTR that both Tennant and Smith's Doctors started out surprised by their new looks?)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:22 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


"And: in an otherwise identical alternate universe where the Doctor was always played by female actors, do you think straight male fans would get as much sneering for admitting they're attracted to this or that actress and are reluctant to see them leave?"

No; and if that's your argument then I'm in complete agreement. There's a huge disparity about this, the disparity is sexist, and it's used as a means of expressing underlying cultural sexism within the nerd fan community and within DW in particular. This is a general rule of sexism in nerd culture: men get a pass on bad behavior while women are criticized for anything and everything.

I think I made a clear argument in my previous comment for why in the case of this show in particular it doesn't make sense for fans to object to the Doctor's changed appearance after regeneration. That's a key premise of the show, that the Doctor can remain the Doctor and we can still care about the Doctor even through such startling changes. There's something very socially important in that message, I think, and I feel pretty strongly that the show's not utilizing all its potential.

I anticipate future controversies about this sort of thing. The debate about a possible female Doctor had a lot in common with this one in this respect, in that many men argued against a female Doctor because they don't know how to understand a female Doctor as the Doctor. In this context, I don't think the issues of "identify with" and "attracted to" are qualitatively that different and so I think fans would be well-served to work at approaching the show in its own spirit and try to stretch their heads (and hearts) in ways they'd otherwise not. Because she show is already asking us for that anyway, each regeneration.

But if what I believe to be a valid point of view is commonly used as a pretext for sexist attacks on female Doctor Who fans, then defending it is certainly not a hill I want to die upon. It's stupid to argue about it as an abstraction when the practical reality is so much more important.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:25 AM on August 25, 2014


Also: watched this and the end-of-the-Smith-Doctor Christmas episode (which we had missed previously) together. The Capaldi episode was much better.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:26 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


We've had a time vortex, a time baby - so now I guess it's the season of the time boyfriend.
posted by Therapeutic Amputations at 8:50 AM on August 25, 2014


So this idea that the Doctor gets to choose his new face -- that seems new, no?

Romana II.
posted by Grangousier at 9:06 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Matt Smith's time-displaced phone call to Clara from Trenzalore essentially invalidates his later alarm at being on his last regeneration? If I read the sequence right, there was no point from his receiving a surprise set of new regens to his actual regen scene at which he could have made that call, so he'd have made it before he started turning old. The continuity issue with this really bugging me, because it turned the phone call into a fanservice retcon.

From a fourth-wall-breaking-screenwriting viewpoint I could see the use of it as a plea from Matt Smith, not only to Clara but to the audience, to accept Capaldi's Doctor for who he is — in which case I didn't really need to be told. I love him already (not as a boyfriend).
posted by brownpau at 9:07 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Capaldi and Jenna Coleman have an incredible chemistry, far better than Smith and Coleman: witness the restaurant banter - wonderful stuff and I was laughing my head off

Same here, though I don't think this is just about their amazing chemistry. Moffat seems to have hidden a Clara "regeneration" in the Doctor's regeneration episode. Maybe I'm giving him more credit than he deserves, but this episode felt like he looked at Clara's character (especially as compared to Oswin and the Victorian Clara) and decided he needed to reboot her character. Again, I may be giving him too much credit but this felt like a new fresh take on Clara and I hope it sticks around.

But yeah, their chemistry is so great it cost me $40. I was going to just torrent the season as usual, but decided that I needed subtitles to pick up all the banter without rewinding, so I bought an iTunes season pass.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:12 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


brownpau: Remember right at the end of the Christmas episode, after he destroyed the invaders with his regeneration energy, Clara found him young again in the TARDIS? I assume he made the call before she found him. In fact, since he's lying on the ground leaning against the door, I think he made the call immediately after exploding and before he entered the TARDIS for the last time.

We had a deal, Kyle: I read that scene as him saying that he "chooses" the face in a very subconscious way, and being puzzled about why "he" "chose" that one. I don't think he can do the Romana II trick of consciously choosing his new regeneration's appearance.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:19 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


If I read the sequence right, there was no point from his receiving a surprise set of new regens to his actual regen scene at which he could have made that call

There is. It's a short moment, but they show it in this episode. Old-Doctor is on the balcony while Clara talks to the rip in time begging for help from Galifrey. She looses track of him when he saves the day by blasting golden sparkles everywhere. She then has a slow walk across the battlefield to the TARDIS. Inside, he has begun regenerating and looks like young Matt Smith again. That's when he calls. In this episode, there's a shot from the Christmas episode that shows her walking to the TARDIS and hanging up the phone. Then she goes inside and there's the real regeneration sequence.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, two things I don't think (?) anyone's mentioned yet:

1) The lesbian kiss as "I'm giving you my oxygen but we all know it's an excuse" scene between Lady Vastra and Jenny.

2) The remarkably creepy-scary restaurant scene where very little (robots moving in sync towards the Doctor and Clara) creates a big effect (ominous threatening message). I also really like the clicky sound effects - very sinister!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:31 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The endless, "he has lines on his face - WHY?" and time we wasted on that made Clara seem like a shallow twit...

I didn't hear that as shallowness, but concern. Clara has met 3 Doctors, the War Doctor was visibly older and she knew he was approaching the end of that particular cycle. And she saw Matt Smith's Doctor age from a youthful appearance to a older, grayer one over the course of centuries.

Now she has seen him go through yet another change, an unprecedented 13th, and he's already aged, and very disoriented. It's not unreasonable that she would be worried that something had gone wrong with this regeneration.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:40 AM on August 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Watching it again, I wonder whether the production designer in charge of the clockwork man is a fan of Milos Rajkovic.
posted by Grangousier at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2014


So this idea that the Doctor gets to choose his new face -- that seems new, no? (ISTR that both Tennant and Smith's Doctors started out surprised by their new looks?)

The core idea is not new - when Romana I moved on to Romana II there was a scene where she was trying different bodies and presenting them to the doctor. What might be new is that the choice of face is subconscious.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:19 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, joseph conrad is fully awesome, I did mention it earlier but carry on! It was an amusing get-around-the-censors scene that's worth mentioning again.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 10:23 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I absolutely loved the line where Capaldi says "I have frown lines, but I didn't frown them" (close paraphrase). That to me is the heart of the focus on his appearance. He's confused and worried about it. He's wondering who frowned those wrinkles. He's unsettled not just that he's old, but the way in which he is old. He doesn't have smile and laugh lines. He has frown lines.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:41 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ian A.T. and Man from Landfork: Aha, yes, thanks! Now I remember, so that's the scene into which Clara hanging up the TARDIS phone would have fit. I still didn't need any more Matt Smith but I'll take it as an acceptable continuity retcon.
posted by brownpau at 10:45 AM on August 25, 2014


I really enjoyed Capaldi. It was a refreshing return to some menace and gravitas in the Doctor. I also quite like that the new TARDIS interior is a modern update of the classic look and they've moved away from the whimsy excess of 11's Willy Wonka fun house.

I was disappointed by the episode though. Moffat clearly worried about the age and tone changes being offputting to younger and more recent fans. That worry may be entirely reasonable but his response was poorly executed.

Instead of allaying those fears by demonstrating the Doctor is always the Doctor he simply stated that it was so. Half of the episode was wasted inserting those presumed fan objections and their refutation into the dialog of Clara, Vastra, and 11. The script often felt like Moffat talking to me about running the show rather than showing me a show.

The beginning and ending segments felt like committee created talking points intended to preempt any negative fan reaction. As a result they felt disconnected and desperate. The middle segment, by far the most enjoyable part of the show, got away from the meta nagging at the audience about the show Doctor Who and just told a story about the Doctor.

I am still very hopeful. I think Capaldi will be great. I love the return to some of the more classic style and pacing. I only hope Capaldi gets scripts that tell stories that are engrossing, scary, and funny rather than scripts that have characters just sort of announce that they feel an emotional connection.
posted by Babblesort at 11:02 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


The lesbian kiss as "I'm giving you my oxygen but we all know it's an excuse" scene between Lady Vastra and Jenny.

Well, yes; on the one hand, openly (and incidentally) queer characters on mainstream TV, yay.

On the other hand though: the strangely repeated reminders that they're a married couple seemed almost defensive on Moffat's part: "I don't write well for women, you say? WELL LOOK HERE'S A LESBIAN COUPLE HOW ABOUT THAT ARE WE COOL NOW?"
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:28 AM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was hoping to connect Green Wing to the Whoniverse via Caroline Todd or Guy Secretan, but Sue White will definitely do in a pinch.
posted by whuppy at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]




"But if what I believe to be a valid point of view is commonly used as a pretext for sexist attacks on female Doctor Who fans, then defending it is certainly not a hill I want to die upon. It's stupid to argue about it as an abstraction when the practical reality is so much more important."

Thank you, I appreciate that.

I'm in complete agreement with you on the broad strokes -- appreciating regeneration and the storytelling opportunities it brings is part of appreciating Doctor Who, and both the show itself and many parts of fandom could be doing could be doing much more to push the boundaries of what regeneration can be (both for social reasons and for the sake of more interesting sci-fi). I do find complaints from straight female fans expressing a lack of interest in Specific New Actor much less loaded* than disproportionately white, disproportionately male fans bending over backwards to find Objective Reasons that the Doctor must, definitively must, be played by a white guy always or the show is ruined forever.

*Usually. I mean, I've seen the occasional "I don't want a female Doctor because I want to be attracted to him!" comment, and so far Specific New Actor has always been a white dude -- I have no doubt that if Paterson Joseph had been our Eleventh Doctor there would have been a ton of "I'm not racist but he's just not as hot as David Tennant..." comments.

Anyway, this is getting pretty heavy so I'm just going to link to my favorite comparison gif set so far because I have a lot of feelings about new Clara (who is actually old Clara with her characterization finally given priority over ongoing mystery arcs and obligatory milestone episodes) and Twelve and emotionally distraught Team TARDISes with amazingly snazzy cumulative dress sense.
posted by bettafish at 12:05 PM on August 25, 2014


He did have a wig but it's still a pretty big difference.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 12:06 PM on August 25, 2014


Oh, while I remember it. Clara's-POV-pulsing-red shot while she was holding her breath: video-game reference?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:11 PM on August 25, 2014


Keep in mind, Ik, that Hartnell was probably already suffering from the arterosclerosis that would force him to quit the role and eventually take his life. If you look at some of his roles from a bit earlier, he's still culturally dressed as an aging male, but shows a lot more physical vigor. And of course the concept of the Doctor was a doddering old professor type, rather than a thinking man's action hero as it's (somewhat unnecessarily) become.

I was a bit underwhelmed. By the end Capaldi definitely was owning the role, but the first act was a mess and another illustration of Moffatt being all over the map and throwing too many ideas into a story to sustain properly, instead of taking a few really good ideas and executing them to their fullest. For my money, that was the Montgolfier-esque balloon escape pod, and there wasn't nearly enough of it. The dinosaur in the Thames came off all wrong, the matte effects were awkward and not up to the standards set by The Mill, the dinosaur was many times too large to then not be actually destroying London (tinkertoy tech handed out by Vastra notwithstanding), and was largely a throwaway distraction to the real plot. (And given th whole been-here-thousands-nay-millions-of-years thing, keep in mind there's a Silurian around who didn't seem to know much about them, unless I missed something.)

I do think Moffatt was trying to improve the Clara character by challenging her, despite the overlap with fan criticism that it involved, and I think it succeeded. I've hated her (the character; I consider the actress competent and blameless) up till now, but she seemed to have her feet. They didn't really manage to paper over the inherent and structural problems with the Doctor/Companion relationship, though.

Thought it was odd to have the Doctor's introduction be in what was nearly at times a Doctor-lite episode. Maybe save those for the middle so they're less noticeable? I didn't mind the Paternosters and the helpfully balancing comic tone but it got off in the weeds a bit with the whole Jenny/married thing, which came off as lampshade upon lampshade without a bulb in the middle.

I didn't like falling into the tree, I did like talking to the horse, but it was a bit of a Smith-ian carryover, that.

New opening sequence is fine and has a bit of a retro/80s feel to it despite all the CGI. The gears, I guess, mean that I can now think of Doctor Who every time I sit down to watch a Lionsgate release. The Seal of Rassillon (?) is sort of pointless fan-wankery here, though. In contrast to the guy's online portfolio version, where the typography was really overdone, it seemed slapped in here. I can't find one that seems canonical online so I'm not sure about the music. There was one good musical cue that seemed like a really complex orchestration of the main theme?

But in general I was disappointed with the effects. Doctor on the rooftops was pretty lousy, for instance. Maybe they'll have some wobbly walls this series?
posted by dhartung at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was hoping to connect Green Wing to the Whoniverse via Caroline Todd or Guy Secretan, but Sue White will definitely do in a pinch.

Caroline Todd was more or less in this episode if it helps?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Doctor on the rooftops was pretty lousy, for instance.

I noticed that too: a lot of the shots that were set in fog had a weird cardboard-cutout thing going on.

OTOH: the clockwork baddie, with his see-through mechanical head, was very well done I thought. Very creepy. Maybe they threw a lot of the effects budget towards that?

It felt odd to me that they showed so little of the balloon too. A BIG DRAMATIC ESCAPE MECHANISM; but ultimately just a plot contrivance to get to the "did he jump or did the Doctor push him?" ambiguity.

(Although they did already do balloon-chase-over-London in The Next Doctor.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine on Twitter said, "I actually miss RTD's unique brand of batshittery."
posted by Kitteh at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ian A.T.: Subscene.
posted by WCityMike at 2:14 PM on August 25, 2014


Oh, while I remember it. Clara's-POV-pulsing-red shot while she was holding her breath: video-game reference?

Oxygen starvation simulation.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:29 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


^Yup.^

It's what it's like if you can't get enough air and are about to pass out.
posted by Kitteh at 2:56 PM on August 25, 2014


I read the site A Brief History of Time (Travel) this summer when my family was rewatching the RTD years. A lot of things I disliked about his producing (mainly continually upping the stakes on season finales, and the Year of Specials) I learned were specific strategies to make the show more and more popular. I found new respect for his choices. They may have made the narrative a mess, but they made the show a huge hit, and uncancellable.

I share many of your qualms about the Moff, and I hope he has a plan to pass the torch in the foreseeable future. Still, he's kept the show popular and spread the audience worldwide. TV is an interesting medium, because keeping the current fans happy is never enough (as the show found in the 80s).
posted by rikschell at 3:13 PM on August 25, 2014


Just read the recap from The Daily Dot listed on the sidebar - it's very good - and it pulls some funny/scathing tweets. Here's a para:
Scarcely a scene went by without someone making some kind of sly dig about Clara’s gender. This encapsulated everything from comments about her body to the many admonitions that it would be somehow “wrong” for her to develop a crush on Capaldi’s Doctor.
Whole thing is pretty brief and worth a read.

And a couple of the tweets:
Foz Meadows @fozmeadows

"So, Mr Moffat. Great work! But we, ah, have some issues -'
'Like what?'
'Like WHY ARE YOU MAKING JOKES ABOUT CLARA'S WATER RETENTION.'
and
myrte @kimjongddae

"you can put your clothes back on" HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE STRAX THOUGHT SHE WAS NAKED HEHEHEHEHEHE NAKED GIRL HEHEEHEHEH IM TWELVE
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:38 PM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't have the video with me, but I'm pretty sure the "water retention" but was actually a reference to fluid retention in one of Clara's organs in later life.

Not a HAH HAH SHARK WEEK gag.
posted by coriolisdave at 9:08 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am so disappointed in Moffat's inability to create a coherent plot or write a non-insulting female character, but that restaurant scene that joseph conrad is fully awesome mentioned reminded me of why I liked Moffat's episodes during the RTD years. He can do that shift from mundane to creepy - which become even more creepy when we realized that whatever was wrong was there from the start, but we just didn't see it - so well. But damn, I miss narrative coherence. And Donna.

And as for female fanservice concerns, Capaldi is ten times sexier than Matt Smith. I just hope his new catchphrase isn't "Shut Up!" (I'm hoping for "fuckity bye!" myself).
posted by bibliowench at 9:23 PM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have a sneaking suspicion his catchphrase is "that's not the real question.."
posted by coriolisdave at 9:52 PM on August 25, 2014


Okay, I'm finally back from the late night Fathom watch. And I....still don't know how I feel about this. Tennant and Smith are my guys and uh....this is still just weird. I was pretty much feeling like Clara in the episode: how come if he regenerated, he got OLDER by thirty years, seriously, that really doesn't make sense. (Plus the post-regeneration crazy never helps.) And Vastra's patronizing speech was kind of ticking me off a bit, like how dare you judge! Hey, maybe it's not so much judging "he got old" so much as "um, this is really weird and not like the dude I'm used to, I didn't think in each life he STARTED old, wtf?"

On the other hand: loved Clara in this. Loved her faceoff with the machine defying him to kill her and hoping to god the Doctor would still be behind her. Loved the lunch scene. Always am amused by how somehow those two Victorian chicks got leather catsuits and unfurled from ribbons in the air...followed by Strax plopping because he should have taken the stairs. And the unnecessary posing by Jenny. And Victorian Clara is always cute as the dickens.

(The Fathom event had another awesome Strax intro, btw, in which he recaps all of the various Doctor's changes.)

I....still don't know what to make of Capaldi yet. I'm used to seeing him being all stern and this is weird. Kinda related in places, am mildly amused by the bottlecap-opening killer eyebrows, mostly am just still feeling weirded out and will need some time to decide if I like this or not, I guess. Sorry, guys, I fail at fandom.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:20 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I quite liked this episode, and actually thought the plot was reaaasonably fun and creepy. That said this episode tried to accomplish too much. It wanted to justify having an older doctor to the audience, so had Clara be an audience surrogate, by making her uncomfortable with the new doctor. And this would have been a plot line that would have worked great with Rose, who absolutely would react the way Clara did, but Clara went through the events of the Day of the Doctor, and showed empathy to the War Doctor. Why would she react so badly in this case?

Ah well, at least the show is giving her more of a personality, as she has been a bit of a blank slate thus far. I am looking forward to more Who, certainly.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:21 AM on August 26, 2014


"Clara went through the events of the Day of the Doctor, and showed empathy to the War Doctor. Why would she react so badly in this case?"

Because meeting other regenerations in passing and having vague echo-memories of a few others isn't the same thing as having the Doctor you've come to know regenerate and knowing you'll never see that version again.

Especially since the events of Time of the Doctor and the first half of Deep Breath are all the same day for Clara. It was eight months ago for us, but she just watched her dear friend die of old age in a matter of hours, in between courses of an awkward family dinner where she had to pretend nothing was wrong. And it wasn't a straightforward regeneration either -- first she thought he'd die for real, then she helped get him more regenerations, then he was young again and it looked like everything'd be fine, then he regenerated anyway and it seemed to go wrong because his brain got scrambled and he got older instead of younger, and then they got eaten by a dinosaur, and then she got stranded a century in her past with a Doctor who's ill, and then his friend who's met her twice and has no idea of what she's just been through started getting all judgmental...
posted by bettafish at 4:56 AM on August 26, 2014 [15 favorites]


bettafish, those are all excellent points.
posted by cooker girl at 5:19 AM on August 26, 2014


Yeah thats fair bettafish. I guess you're right, but I feel like the show makes me want to think Vastra is correct to reprimand Clara (although I guess Clara gets her reprimandy speech).
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:37 AM on August 26, 2014


I was pretty much feeling like Clara in the episode: how come if he regenerated, he got OLDER by thirty years, seriously, that really doesn't make sense.

If you really want to think about it, Time Lords age at a different rate than humans, so really, we're talking centuries!
posted by Atreides at 7:09 AM on August 26, 2014


I've never thought regeneration was about age. It was about the physical body.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:13 AM on August 26, 2014


Is there any chance that "Missy" is Miss Evangelista from Silence in the Library and that "Paradise" is the place where the Doctor saved her and her compatriots (and River)?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: that occured to me as well. Her personality also reminded me somewhat of the Doctors Wife, but I don't think the show is going there.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:37 AM on August 26, 2014


We can only hope that you're correct, DOT; that would be fantastic.

I was hoping for a now-female Master, but I gather it is traditional to hope that any unrecognized character is the Master or Romana*.

*The tyrannosaur, of course.
posted by The Gaffer at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2014


You forgot the Rani, The Gaffer.

Wait, The Gaffer? *peers suspiciously*
posted by bettafish at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is there any chance that "Missy" is Miss Evangelista from Silence in the Library and that "Paradise" is the place where the Doctor saved her and her compatriots (and River)?

Yeah, and I'm still holding onto my (probably wrong) theory that Clara is Cal from that episode, as well. I mean, come on, just look at her.
posted by jbickers at 8:22 AM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just going to drop this tumblr gifset I had to reblog, which posits a different theory about where and what Paradise is that relates to earlier Moffat episodes (so possibly a bit more likely than a Rani- or Master-related theory).
posted by immlass at 9:11 AM on August 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Damn, immlass... those are very clearly the same place. Plus, Apalapucia was referred to as "the Paradise planet." Though how the cyborg got there, who the hell Missy is, and many other questions are only complicated further by this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dang, indeed.
posted by Atreides at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2014


A few quick thoughts, bearing in mind that I need to rewatch the episode as I saw it dog-tired late the night it aired (that's my "Get Out Of E-Space Free" card).

Surprised people are talking up the acting as I thought there were some really stilted, awkward exchanges esp. in the Doctor/Clara interactions (and not in a "character" way either)

The "Silence Will Fall"-level repetition of their happy union got me wondering, I can't remember whether Vastra and Jenny are definitely married? Like by a handsome Time Agent with time on his hands and a dancing Doctor in attendance? The underlining was almost like a set-up for something that never came, unless it was just intended to clearly frame the not-a-kiss kiss for casual viewers?

Loving Capaldi-Doctor, although he's giving me the same trouble the (great, great) Eccleston often did, which is that I'm still seeing the actor playing a damn good Doctor. (Also, he clearly, clearly mugged that tramp, watch swapping cover-story or no)

Missy, who referred to the Doctor as her boyfriend? Missy = K9's Mistress = Romana III(+) FACT. OK, or possibly just more Manic Pixie Posh Time Laird tech a la Idris/The Moment. Michelle Gomez is great, as ever.

When Clara was reaching behind for the Doctor to help her, I knew that it wasn't going to happen. Eleven would, not Twelve, that's the point of the whole scene! I love that I was wrong and that her character had more faith in the Doctor than I did. Bringing his darkness more to the fore helps show off the light, I guess. That scene certainly wasn't clunky or stilted. Great stuff!
posted by comealongpole at 10:15 AM on August 26, 2014


Using the same garden for the "paradise planet" Apalapucia and for Paradise, and that Missy can be interpreted as Master or Miss Evangelista, just seems waaaay too easy and like deliberate fan-trolling.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:22 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


All those stone columns make me think of Dimensions In Time. Not sure I'm happy about that!
posted by comealongpole at 10:32 AM on August 26, 2014


When Clara was reaching behind for the Doctor to help her, I knew that it wasn't going to happen. Eleven would, not Twelve, that's the point of the whole scene!

That's so interesting. I read that scene as being great because ALL the Doctors would have been there. That's the point; they're the same.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 10:40 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Call back to (S.S.) Mdm de ‎Pompadour. I just wish Capaldi hadn't dismissed it

Did Capaldi dismiss it himself, or was it a line from the episode? I have the worst time hearing the dialogue in the show because the music is so damn loud.

Because it seems like the similarities are too many to ignore: clockwork creatures harvesting organ parts, sister ships, Moffat-written, Doctor Boyfriend. I'm wondering if Moffat's going to return to one of his old ideas, like he did with the Weeping Angels. Or maybe it's just more continuity/mythology masturbation.
posted by bibliowench at 10:58 AM on August 26, 2014


Did Capaldi dismiss it himself, or was it a line from the episode?

It was in the dialogue. He definitely made a joke of almost remembering Pompadour several times but never quite getting there. Part old man joke, part new regeneration scrambled brain I guess.
posted by Aznable at 11:04 AM on August 26, 2014


The Doctor never knew it was the SS Pompadour, it was a reveal that only the viewers saw. I think.
posted by Grangousier at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2014


No, I think the Doctor says "SS Pompadour" aloud. I wouldn't have been able to read the writing on the coppery bit from where I was sitting, but it was in the subtitles.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2014


No, sorry, I wasn't clear - he didn't know he was on the Pompadour during The Girl in the Fireplace - the reveal at the end was just for the viewer's benefit - so it wouldn't ring a bell per se, although he'd remember Mme de P, the person, obviously.
posted by Grangousier at 2:02 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


seems waaaay too easy and like deliberate fan-trolling

I'm not on the Moffat-hate wagon but he's totally into fan-trolling. Also into making apparently very complicated mysteries that aren't that complicated (at least in Who--Sherlock isn't a family show and operates under different constraints).
posted by immlass at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2014


I'm hoping this Doctor's catchphrase is not having a catchphrase.
posted by rikschell at 5:51 PM on August 26, 2014


I'm hoping this Doctor doesn't make a thing of breaking the fourth wall.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:00 PM on August 26, 2014


Highlights for me:

Attack Eyebrows! (seriously thinking about contacting the mods about what I need to do to change my user name...)

The Doctor having a sense of menace and ambiguity. I.e. the scene with the tramp he eventually mugged. The did he or didn't push the clockwork droid out of the skin balloon (he totally did.) Asking Clara whether he was a good man, and her response.

Clara actually getting some substance as a character.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:35 AM on August 27, 2014


Oh, and the regeneration thing, maybe I'm reading too much into it but Amy was Scottish...
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:36 AM on August 27, 2014


My favorite scenes were all the one-on-one scenes with the Doctor: the Doctor and the homeless man, the Doctor and Clara in the restaurant, the Doctor and the Half-Face Man in the skin balloon.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:05 PM on August 27, 2014


I just hope his new catchphrase isn't "Shut Up!"

Yes, it seemed like they were testing the waters with that being repeated several times - I think it would make a crap catch-phrase, though.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:56 PM on August 27, 2014


Also, having caught up on the BBCA "live post-show" stuff: holy crap, Alton Brown dropped a huge misogynist turd in that one. (And I wondered from his demeanor in the next segment if a someone had had a "DUDE, NOT COOL" chat with him during the ad break.)

OTOH, dude-who-plays-Strax was charming; somehow it's always amusing when actors drop into the character voice when they're not dressed in character.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:00 AM on August 28, 2014


I'm kind of hoping Twelve doesn't have a catchphrase, or that it takes several episodes into the series before he develops one.

"Fantastic" felt organic. Apparently RTD says it constantly and Eccleston just ad-libbed it in. "Allons-y" and "Geronimo" felt forced, as if someone on high declared all Doctors needed a catchphrase.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:12 AM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Moffat likes writing scripts where the lines have double meaning and all the action metaphorically signifies something else. Sometimes he's very successful. This episode went overboard. Too much attention was paid to the vehicles of the metaphors and too little attention to the tenors. Everything the characters said and did was in service of expressing hidden points about identity, age, and abandonment. Characters didn't act on the basis of their own motivations, but the basis of manifesting themes. The surface-level plot draped over these themes was nonsensical and difficult to follow. The final confrontation between the Doctor and the cyborg was especially bizarre. I still don't understand anything about that cyborg's motivations.
posted by painquale at 1:43 PM on August 28, 2014




Dunno if review posting has any protocol?

I had to sadly agree with much of this negative Indiewire review (well, they give it a C+). Basically, it argues that Moffatt doesn't seem to be able to write properly for the man who, after all, was his hand-chosen Doctor ("no other candidates"), and seemingly unable to grasp his actual strengths as an actor, and pulls his punches to the point that we, the audience, are given little reason to "follow him into space and time".
posted by dhartung at 2:09 PM on August 28, 2014


Dunno if review posting has any protocol?

Only if it includes spoilers for future episodes; and anyone can (and should!) add a review/recap link to the sidebar of a FanFare page.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:34 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some of the effects were a bit dodgy, but I have to say that the clockwork man's exposed face looked amazing, especially when he's standing in the doorway of the balloon and you can see the blue sky through the gaps in his metal skull.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:48 AM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if Moffat's going to return to one of his old ideas, like he did with the Weeping Angels.

God I hope not. I liked the Weeping Angels less each time Moffat wrote them, because Moffat kept changing the rules for them. I know he has expressed contempt for the idea of continuity in a show about time travel, and I'd be fine with that if I thought his retcons were half as clever as he does. In many of his episodes, his retcons strike me as sloppy and glib; in his worst episodes I wonder if he thinks the audience is stupid.

This episode really didn't work for me: I thought the dinosaur plot didn't go anywhere, I wasn't amused by the banter or the slapstick, I didn't care for the recycled plot or the lampshading, I thought Vastra's behavior was inexplicable, and I wished all the characters' feelings had been shown rather than just stated.

That said, I like the darker Doctor and I liked Capaldi's work. I just hope the rest of the scripts are better.
posted by johnofjack at 6:42 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


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