3 out of 4 found this review helpful.
On first pass, I was willing to give Deep Breath a pass. Sure, bits of it seemed silly, and there were moments where the story crawled to a halt, but on the plus side, a lot of the silliness that had crept into the later half of Matt Smith's tenure had been virtually eliminated. However, looking back on Deep Breath with, not only a cold, detached view, but also with the foreknowledge of where Peter Capaldi's Doctor will go, I have to say that Deep Breath is a bit of an underwhelming start. Sure, it held my attention, and there were scenes that I really liked on there own, but overall, I found Deep Breath a cluttered story that wasn't quite able to break above it's average status, and become what it should have been. I think that while some people have complained that this story is indistinguishable from a season 33 story, I rather like that. Like with Robot (Tom Baker's introduction from season 12), Moffat breaks us gently into the world of this new Doctor, and that does allow the show to have a transition period, which it did start in the 2013 specials, and is brought to it's logical conclusion here. I also feel that, while some complained that there wasn't enough plot to sustain 75 minutes of television, I'd disagree. There's plenty here that would have engaged an audience, and the ideas are certainly strong enough to sustain any runtime. Of course, it all depends on the strength of your writing, and I certainly don't think that this is one of Moffat's best scripts. There is simply too much here in this story that pulls at the interesting sci-fi ideas, and chews up there runtime. While some of the characterisation work that is done (particularly in the case of Clara) is interesting, most of the first half is a lot of pissing around with some silly jokes thrown in. In particular, the Doctor's initial madness gets tiring by the end of the first scene, but it's extended for at least twenty minutes till they reach the bridge, and only then do you get a small inkling of what this Doctor is going to be like. Certainly, in the second half of the story, the Doctor is given a more consistent role to play, and we start to see flashes of what this character will be like, but we can't form an opinion by the end of this story. And while I like that it indicates a journey for this Doctor's character, I can't help but wondering whether some people will just be turned off by this lack of definition. But, of course, I'd rather have an interesting story than pandering to general public conventions. That is what Doctor Who thrives on, of course. As I mentioned earlier, I did think that there are too many ideas for this script, and I feel like Moffat has taken the plots that he had, and just thrown them together to create a mishmash of different ideas that are competing with each other for superiority. There's lot's of great scenes (the tramp scene and the restaurant scene were particular highlights), but it all just felt all disconnected and loosely linked. The scenes were interesting, but they just didn't flow into another. I also found that the Paternoster Gang were rather superfluous to this story, with them really there simply for comic relief. It's a shame, because Moffat could have done interesting things with them, but it just came across as shoving them in there. They just felt like comic relief, which was a pity considering that there was the extra runtime to develop them, and since they were side-lined in Name Of The Doctor. It just feels like the story was overstuffed full of fun elements (dinosaur, clockwork Robots, the Paternoster Gang, post-regenerative crisis) but none of those elements quite come off. Certainly, I felt that, bar Clara and the Doctor, the characters were under developed and barely noticeable. As I said, the Doctor and Clara are interesting, and while I do feel that they could have pushed the boat out with the development, I did like the work that was done here. Both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman give great performances, and while their dynamic isn't as developed as it is in later stories, the pair still work really well together. I like the work that Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey did, but as I said, I felt that they were just there to pad out the story,, and I wasn't really keen on the moral high ground that Vastra was put on. All that material that was related to the Doctor and Clara fancying each other just feels a little contrived, to explain away some silly lines which were best forgotten about. The Half-Faced Man, played by Peter Ferdinando was probably the only guest actor who stood out, with a chilling performance. I also thought the work with his head cogs and make-up was fantastic. I did think that the Missy cameo was more forced this time around, and Matt Smith's cameo just felt hideously self-indulgent, considering this was meant to be a confident start to a brand new era. It just comes across as hideously self-indulgent. Some of the sound effects, such as the Cloister Bell and the bong sound when Vastra knocked the Doctor out seemed a little silly and over-the-top. However, Murray Gold's music was, for once, really good, with some wonderful electronic pieces. I also thought the whole story looked fantastic with some great direction from Ben Wheatley and design from Michael Pickwoad. The new TARDIS looks fantastic too, the orange really looks fantastic. Howard Burden's fantastic costume for the twelfth Doctor is also great too, a nicely stripped back look. The titles and theme are also given a revamp, and I love the work that is done with them. The clockwork is a lovely motif, and the ideas behind it are wonderful. I also thought that the theme felt a little cluttered, but the electronic parts were a wonderful call-back to the 1980's themes. On the whole, Deep Breath is a story that doesn't quite come off. There are good ideas, and it looks fantastic, but Steven Moffat was just too concerned with, like in Time Of The Doctor, shoving too many elements into the script. It's a shame that Moffat couldn't have stuck with just a few of his ideas, because I feel that the whole script just comes as little more than a cluster of ideas. It could have been a really interesting bizarre sci-fi murder mystery, but it just feels like a real let-down. However, it's still watchable, particularly any scene with Peter Capaldi. A flawed work, but with some merit, and there is a lot worse from the pen of Steven Moffat