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Doctor Who: Deep Breath (Review)

“Dormant.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t. Just hoping.”

– the Doctor and Clara discover things haven’t changed too much

The regeneration from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi represents the third time that Doctor Who has changed its lead actor since its relaunch in 2005. It is the third time that a regeneration has forced a change in the opening credits. Along the way, there have been a number of other on-screen regenerations, from Derek Jacobi to John Simm through to John Hurt to almost!Christopher Eccleston. And that excludes River’s transformations or David Tennant’s pseudo-regeneration at the end of the fourth season.

All of this is to say that, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the revived Doctor Who, audiences are quite familiar with the concept of regeneration. This isn’t as dramatic a shift as it was when Christopher Eccleston melted into David Tennant at the end of The Parting of the Ways. That was a freshly relaunched show swapping out its lead actor after less than a year. In contrast, Deep Breath marks a much more orderly and logical transition. It isn’t earth-shattering.

doctorwho-deepbreath14

All of this means that producer and writer Stephen Moffat gets to have a bit of fun with the concept. Moffat’s previous regeneration episode, The Eleventh Hour, had the burden of demonstrating that Doctor Who could survive without both Russell T. Davies and David Tennant. In fact, it was rumoured the BBC had considered just cancelling the show at that point. As such, The Eleventh Hour was an episode designed to reassure fans that not everything had changed; this was still the same show. Moffat’s first season as showrunner was very much “business as usual.”

Deep Breath has no such weight attached to it. It is an episode that doesn’t feel the same need to reassure its audience that everything is okay and everything is the same. Instead, it can revel in what is different; it can celebrate what is new. Deep Breath lacks the sheer energy and powerful charisma that made The Eleventh Hour so fantastic, but it has a comforting sense of certainty to it that makes it a joy.

doctorwho-deepbreath4

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Luther: Series 1 (Review)

You know, when I wonder why Irish television can’t produce quality drama, I am not looking across the pond towards our American cousins. I realise the sheer scale of the economy and the entertainment industry over there means that any possible point of comparison is just absurd. While the Great Britain is considerably larger, I look at the BBC and wonder why Irish television can’t even be nearly as good as that. After all, we have produced more than our fair share of Nobel laureates for literature, produce great artists, writers and actors in numbers quite disproportionate to our side. And I can’t point to a single Irish television show that is any way iconic – but perhaps that’s too much to expect.

Why can’t we even have something half as good as Luther?

I think he just copped it...

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Doctor Who: The Almost People (Review)

“How can you both be real?”

“Because we are.”

– Amy & the Doctor

Hm. That was a vast improvement on last week. And I say that as someone who enjoyed last week’s episode a lot more than most. It’s very formulaic Doctor Who, with the team running around gothic corridors (“a maze,” as the Doctor describes it) and bright lights fleshing, while continuing the series’ key theme: as a race, humans can be absolutely horrible… but sometimes, just sometimes, absolutely brilliant. Throw in a fairly substantial cliffhanger and larger elements from the season-long mythos, and you end up with an episode that feels like it’s filled to the top. Not everything’s golden, and not everything gels, but it works consistently enough to make for entertaining tea-time telly.

Doppel!Doctor!

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Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife (Review)

“Are all people like this?”

“Like what?”

“So much bigger on the inside.”

– TARDIS and the Doctor

That was awesome. Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode, The Doctor’s Wife, was perhaps the strongest stand-alone episode the series has had in quite some time – packed to the brim with wonderful and cheeky and clever concepts, executed in wonderful style. It had just about everything, from small fanboy-ish references (“the old control room”) through to clever explorations of the ideas the show takes for granted, managing to fit perfectly with what had come before and suggest some new takes on classic concepts at the same time.

The Smith-en young couple...

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Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot (Review)

Arriving just in time for the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (On Stranger Tides), Doctor Who has decided to go all pirate on us – even adopting the episode title The Curse of the Black Spot, to mirror The Curse of the Black Pearl. What we get feels genuinely like “Old School” Doctor Who, with the action confined to a very tight remote location, some corny (but effective) special effects and advanced technology masquerading as superstition. I suppose it was inevitable that a “monster of the week” episode would feel like a bit of a letdown after the superb Day of the Moon, but – while fun – The Curse of the Black Spot never really feels essential.

Not quite a wash-out...

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Doctor Who: Day of the Moon (Review)

“No, it’s not Apollo 11. That would be silly. It’s Neil Armstrong’s foot.”

– The Doctor discusses his secret weapon

Well, that was fun. Reportedly, Steven Moffat stated that he wanted the season-opening two-parter to feel like a big season finale, with epic scale, huge stakes and genuine consequences, and – to be frank – I think he accomplished it. Perhaps Day of the Moon leaves just a little bit too much hanging for my own personal taste, but it’s still an exciting and fun conclusion to this story arc.

Spaced out...

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