Sunday, 24 August 2014

Doctor Who Deep Breath - my review

A packet of Costa coffee bought this week, obviously being marketed to Doctor Who fans.

I've watched Doctor Who - Deep Breath twice now, once on the cinema screen with an audience and once at home on iPlayer with earphones in, and I love it. 9 out of 10.

Obviously lots of criticisms if you want them. Ben Wheatley directs the actors brilliantly, getting the best performance yet out of Jenna Colman. The downside of his technique is that he takes time for lines to sink in, which made some bits last longer than they might have. The show would have been 5 minutes shorter if we hadn't paused before everything clockwork man said for example.

And Steven Moffat's cringey contrived gags are as groaningly painful as ever. I mean I like "who frowned me this face?" - there's a t-shirt right there - but puns like eyeballs "they're my gift/I accept" and clever clever indulgences like "androids and apostrophes, I could write a book" look great in a comic strip but become very awkward and unrealistic when you're trying to believe that these are real people talking. But, whatever, we're used to that by now and I try to enjoy those rather than get annoyed.

Two logical incorrectitudes: "How did you power this?" "Skin" - making a balloon out of something is not "powering" with it. And when Clara asks Jenny how she'd feel if Vastra changed from the person she loves, Jenny says "and as to different, she's a lizard" - that doesn't answer the question about changing, does it?

Oh yes, and Moffat's understanding of human sexuality and relationships is very clockwork-mannie, as if he's learned it all third hand from actual humans and has difficulty explaining it. We get that Vastra & Jenny are a couple, you don't have to labour it so. Or turn Vastra into a letchy old perv. Awkwardness aside I love the Paternoster gang (Sherlock Holmes in-jokes notwithstanding) and think they should have their own TV series, animated and sold internationally.

 I positively hated the fan-boy pleasing quotes from the old show - "here we go again" from Vastra as the Brigadier, and "you've redecorated, I don't like it" - both of which crossed the line between homage and lack of originality.

But Deep Breath avoided the worst crimes of the previous series - a new viewer could watch it without knowing 50 years of arcane back-story (almost) - and it put an entertaining adventure to the fore, with the indulgent self-examination taking second place (though why the hell Strax had to give Clara a medical examination I will never understand. It's not like the show needed padding for length!).

So 9 out of 10 for me and I really really enjoyed the experience of watching the show in a cinema for the first time. The audience laughter and responses add a lovely dimension to the shared experience. Here's to the rest of the series. (A whole series, for the first time since 2010 - so excited!)

Kev F

PS: Thanks to Alan Hayes on Facebook for pointing out where the new version of the Doctor Who theme got its inspiration:


Andrew Winter said...

I wondered about Clara's medical examination, too. Apparently it had something to do with a Blue Peter 'design a Doctor Who gadget' competition. Strax's device was one of three winners - Jenny's arm device thingy (shown towards the beginning of the episode) was another. We should be getting a sonic hairpin at some point, too.

Simon Bromley said...

We had the hatpin last night - Vastra 'locked' the carriage doors with it.

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