I was concerned with Matt Smith leaving Doctor Who. His energy and interactions with the various companions (Amy and Rory then Clara) swept me up and made me a fan of his incarnation of the Doctor. It was obvious that there was an attraction between the Doctor and Clara. With Peter Capaldi taking over, it was announced that those days were gone. Let’s take a look at the first three episodes of the new season and see how the show is doing.
Using one of River Song’s favorite phrases…SPOILERS
Episode 1 (or overall story #242): “Deep Breath” by Steven Moffat.
Some have complained about the fantasy element Moffat has used in this series but I do not have a problem with it. In my mind when you are dealing with a main character that is this old some of the adventures would seem more like fantasy. I always think of the show as more of a science fantasy than a straight science fiction series. “Deep Breath” started out as a somewhat disjointed, confusing episode to reflect the Doctor’s state of mind. He has just regenerated and is still recovering. Moffat made a good choice of giving us some popular familiar characters to help Clara this time around. Clara also suffers confusion trying to deal with the loss of the man she was in love with. Capaldi turned in an excellent performance in his first full episode. I liked the mix of confusion, humor, and the parts that show this is a darker Doctor. Among my favorite segments are the return of the Paternoster Gang, the Doctor (and others) confusion concerning Clara, the link between the androids and an earlier episode, the hints of a “promised land” and the surprise guest appearance near the end who convinces Clara that the Doctor needs her more than ever.
Episode 2 (Story #243): “Into the Dalek” by Phil Ford & Steven Moffat.
Another example of the new “dark” Doctor. His treatment of the soldiers on the military station in space was something we did not see from the previous doctors. I liked the idea of a damaged Dalek, nicknamed Rusty by the Doctor, becoming good. Things go terribly wrong when the Doctor tries to fix him. One of the high points of the series is when Rusty calls the Doctor “a good Dalek”. Calpaldi nails the expression and makes the viewer feel his pain. Once again we see a short scene tying into the “promised land” subplot from episode one. Danny Pink is introduced as a co-worker/love interest for Clara. Based on the Doctor’s treatment of the soldiers on the station, it should be interesting when he meets Danny. One of the other things that impressed me with “Into the Dalek” was the way it was the thematic connection between this episode and Clara’s first appearance. In that episode, the Doctor tries to rescue a woman who is trapped on a Dalek station. It turns out that she is a damaged Dalek who thinks she is a human woman. In this one the Doctor and Clara physically journey into the mind of a damaged Dalek in an effort to help it. I will be curious if this is connected to Moffat’s arc for Clara.
Episode 3 (Story #244): “Robot of Sherwood” by Mark Gatiss.
Following a very dark episode is one that is more in line with the previous two Doctors. “Robot of Sherwood” is a fun romp that starts when Clara wants to go back in time and meet Robin Hood. The Doctor argues with her that he is a myth. He takes her back to prove it to her and the first person they meet is Robin Hood. An epic sword fight occurs between Robin and the Doctor. The twist is that the Doctor uses a spoon instead of a sword. The conflict between the Doctor and Robin had me cracking up. It was a fun break from the darkness.
I am enjoying the Peter Capaldi Doctor. It is interesting watching as the Doctor and Clara figure out what their relationship is. Steven Moffat has shown, once again, why he is one of my favorite creators for this series.