An Opportunity!

So back on the Blog That Was Before This One, I was doing a Doctor Who rewatch blog commentary thing that was so far behind it wasn’t even funny. I think I bogged sometime around the end of season 6? Pretty sure I never made it to season 7. (Having checked, I guess I didn’t even make it to the middle of 6. Oy.)

Anyway, I really want to go back and finish it at some point because it was a lot of fun but that would also mean re-watching episodes that kinda hurt the first time and, post-Trenzalore, might leave scratch marks. And since I find myself in the really unusual position of actually being caught up with a show (seriously, this never happens), I thought I’d simply skip ahead and talk about Deep Breath.

A couple of disclaimers just to make sure we all know the ground rules.

If you hate Moffatt, we are unlikely to be friends. If you stopped watching when David Tennant left, then why did you even read this far? And if you think Peter Capaldi is ‘too old,’ go. the hell. away.

Have we all got that? Good. I don’t want to have to repeat myself. And, no, I will not talk with you about the Bechdel test or that godawful infographic that did the rounds this summer.

And RAYOR: that is, Read AYour Own Risk. I do not guarantee to be spoiler-free, but I try to be spoiler-light and inspecific where I can at all possibly do so: I like to think that people who have seen the episode will get it but those who haven’t won’t have the story spoiled.

So! :claps hands: Regeneration, huh? Bad trip all ’round — can’t remember one of these that’s really gone smoothly. Of course, not all of us take it as far as 10 did but — this pretty much rotted from beginning to end.

(Oh, can I skip ahead for a minute and say the whole phone call thing? (Yes, I know it was a cheap trick.) Owch for one thing and “tell me I didn’t get old.” Oh, 11…No, of course you didn’t. You never will and you always have been. And I just remembered so much World War I poetry that my brain hurts.)

Is there rubbish in here? Yes, of course, there’s rubbish: faking out leaving Clara; the last interview with the Half-Faced Man (not my fault: that’s what they called him in the cast list) had a faint dusting of cheese; and the voice-over/mind-to-mind communication or whatever the hell it was supposed to be between Jenny and Vastra was cover I don’t think the scene required. (Since I hear the BBC is getting a ton of complaints anyway, I don’t think it helped much either.)

However. Was there gold? Oh, baby. The step back to Girl in the Fireplace was a lovely piece of nostalgia; I’m very glad we resisted the urge to make this an old home week, though, and bring 10 or Mme Pompadour back. They were wonderful; it was a glorious episode; but it doesn’t need a rehash.

Jenny, Vastra, and Strax can just be taken as read; I admit to a tiny little regret that we didn’t see Ada — but maybe she’ll hop on board later. I surely hope so.

I like Clara now more than I have since her introduction: her interview with Half-Faced Man was excellent: strong, independent, clever, fast-thinking — everything a companion should be. She stood up to Vastra, she stood up to H-F M — I like her. If her storyline keeps going like this, I’ll be willing to get on board with her and be sad when she goes. Up to this point, I’ve felt pretty null about her — not that this was really Jenna-Louise Coleman’s fault: she got handed inconsistent stories that didn’t make up their mind about a character arc until too late.

Capaldi as 13. (Yes, 13; I’m not taking John Hurt out of the line-up of Doctors because are you fucking kidding me — if nothing else, I’d be worried he’d show up and bitch-slap me.) Plus I think Moffatt did some really clever-clogs fancy dancing around the whole 12 regenerations issue and I’m willing to respect the levels of bafflegab he went to.

Was Capaldi my number one choice? No (Paterson Joseph or Barbara Flynn. I have lovely, lovely moments where the Doctor is Helen Mirren but, alas, I know this won’t happen). Was he my head canon? No. Did I actually think he was seriously in the running? No. I honestly thought Moffatt was going to fuck us over and take Billie Piper after her appearance in the 50th. I can’t say this led me to have nightmares or anything but when we do get a female Doctor, I would like someone with slightly more impressive acting chops.

I could not believe the reaction among a small, vocal number of fans once Capaldi was announced, though, that he was ‘too old’ or ‘unattractive’ or just ‘wrong’ for the part. This is where I, as an old-series fan, start to get a little bit huffy with the young ‘uns. The Doctor has been quite young enough for quite long enough — and if you think 11 was as young as his face, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we’ve been watching the same show at all.

I’m delighted to see Capaldi take a strong, capable take on the part right out of the gate, no messing around, very little fuff around the regeneration — although Neve McIntosh’s recession into Scots was marvellous — and just getting right down to it. I like the intensity; I like the focus; I like the seemingly wide-focus-while-still-being-narrow-focus gaze. I love the quieter physicality — 11 was so much about flail and flash (most often to disguise what he was really doing) that I think something different will be very welcome.

As to rumours that this is the ‘dark’ Doctor… I admit to being a bit baffled by them. What has he been up ’til now? Did we all miss 9 talking to the Nestene Consciousness? “I couldn’t save your world: I couldn’t save any of them!”

Or what 10 and Donna at Journey’s End? “Because there can’t be.”

Or, indeed, what 11 was willing to do to the star whale? “Nobody human has anything to say to me today!”

So I’m not on board with the people who are all ‘oooh! new direction!’ but I am looking forward to seeing where we go with an older Doctor — particularly if we’re going to try and tie in Capaldi’s other Who and Torchwood appearances. I’m particularly intrigued to see what, if anything, happens with the Torchwood character because Children of Earth was pretty much pain from one end to the other and Capaldi brought a lot of it. It’s an incredible performance but trying to wrap that character into the Doctor — could get interesting.

I think I had more coherent thoughts when I started this but it’s 10.20 pm, I’ve been up since 7 am, and I have to get up at 6 am. I believe the short version would be that I am (almost) entirely content with this opener and I’m delighted to see some old friends turning up so soon in the season as next week.