Reviewed By: Mercury
Review Date: 11/20/18 2:32 pm
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This episode has a storyline where our newly regenerated Doctor (Peter Capaldi) arrives in Victorian England having brought with him a giant dinosaur. The TARDIS was in fact stuck in the dinosaur's throat! The Doctor and Clara then meet up with The Doctor's friends the 'Paternoster Gang'. Clara and The Doctor himself struggle with the Doctor's new and as yet unresolved transformation. There is a spate of 'spontaneous combustions' which The Doctor and his friends seek to investigate. There is also a half faced man lurking around.
Capaldi is impressive in his full debut with excellent acting and wonderful personality on show. Moffatt's writing of the many scenes and all the dialogue based around introducing Capaldi's characterisation of The Doctor is extremely well executed. As a vehicle for bringing in the new Doctor this episode is incredibly good. It has a wonderful script for Capaldi which he exploits fully. It is funny, references the show's history and has intelligent and thoughtful dialogue based around The Doctor struggling with regeneration and starting to establish his personality. It also has an improved feel to the Smith era as the filming style is full of slower scenes for character building and more in-depth dialogue.
The story itself if you take out the new Doctor introduction part of the plot is quite fun and entertaining but has a few issues. If you took out the regeneration side of things this would not be a great story just a fun, lighthearted romp. However, it should have turned into a very good episode purely because of Capaldi and his well written and acted character building scenes. Instead it is damaged by some issues which bring overall quality down a bit.
The issues I have with the plot are that like many Moffatt/Matt Smith era stories there is a tendency to overlook logic and credibility. Firstly the giant dinosaur was a bit of an issue for me. Why did Moffatt have to make it a giant dinosaur (about 8 or 10 times the size of known Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils if you measure it against the Houses of Parliament), thereby discarding all we know in science about dinosaurs? It is an unnecessary, pointless move by Moffatt purely to add spectacle (not for the first or last time). It would have worked better either with a regular sized dinosaur biting rather than swallowing the TARDIS or a giant alien monster unknown by science.
Secondly, why would the half faced man not have a finished face or at least a mask as some means of making his appearance not stand out so obviously? They have had the time and resources to build all sorts of things and yet he does not finish his face and roams around London without anyone noticing his obvious missing human features. Again spectacle over riding logic.
Thirdly, why does Clara react so badly to The Doctor's change to an older man? Of all companions she has even less excuse for this having met other incarnations of The Doctor before and coped perfectly well. If she has 'forgotten' these encounters with other versions of The Doctor it would still make her a remarkably shallow character. It would have been much better if she accepted his new appearance but found his new personality hard to accept and started to get more uncomfortable as the episode went on, or over the first couple of episodes, before getting used to him.
I felt these issues were partly overcome by the superb quality of Capaldi, the script and the filming style as well as the humour and entertainment value but not entirely.
I had been greatly looking forward to a rumoured return to a more thoughtful, slow burning drama in this series and was hoping for great things from lifelong Who fan Peter Capaldi as The Doctor. I think they met those expectations with the filming style and I was generally very, very happy with this first episode, mainly due to Capaldi who showed potential to be creating one of the better characterisations of The Doctor. It was a decent episode but illogical, plot hole issues stopped it reaching its full potential.
My rating for this episode: 7.5/10