Let down only by Moffat’s decifing to continue to have the Doctor comment on people’s body image, “Listen” is probably the best story we’ve had since “The Girl in the Fireplace”. It’s smart, possibly monster-less and much more a story about people being scared than trying to be a story which scares people. The reveal at the end might not be what everyone expects, which I suppose is kind of the point when it comes to Moffat’s plot arcs (or attempts thereof).
It should be entirely superfluous and yet it starts off with some great dialogue and then settles down to being a decent crispy which plays with the folklore of Robin Hood quite effectively. The link to the season’s bigger plot is a bit clunky and the ending is pure Mark Gatiss (which is to say, big and rubbish) but given I thought it was going to be dire, I actually liked it.
A smart script which races along, a terrific performance by Peter Capaldi which marks this new Doctor as being quite different to his last few predecessors and a return to a version of Clara Oswald is smart, funny and worthy of being the Doctor’s companion. Possibly, I think, the best episode of new “Doctor Who” that we’ve had in a while. Certainly, it feels like it would fit into Moffat’s first, exciting season with ease, rather than the bloated mess that were the subsequent Matt Smith outings.
Apologies to people coming here for talk of conspiracy theories: over the next twelve weeks I will be posting very short reviews of the latest “Doctor Who” episodes since one of the reasons I ever aspired to get a PhD was to be be called “Doctor”.
“Deep Breath” might be Steven Moffat’s attempt to revitalise the show he has been piloting aimlessly for a while now. I loved the anniversary story last year but hated the regeneration tale. However, the choice of Peter “Malcolm Tucker” Capaldi as the new Doctor was inspired: an older man as the Doctor was a much needed change after both David Tennant and Matt Smith (both of whom I liked).1 Capaldi’s Doctor is a bit cantankerous, slightly needy and prone to talking rather than madcap running. His introductory story is a bit ho-hum: the focus is really more on who this new Doctor is. The surprise reveals at the end of the episode are slightly more troubling: whilst it was nice to see a certain someone again as a last hurrah (no spoilers for you, sweeties) the introduction of this season’s overarching plot came off as belonging more to Matt Smith’s tenure than it did to the slightly more serious set-up we got for the new Doctor. Still, roll on next week.
- Yes, I think a much more inspired choice could have been made but it wasn’t.↩