Waiting to Exhale: Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who, "Deep Breath"

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For those of us who live without BBC America on our tellies, the Blu-ray/DVD releases are an event. Yes, we're behind the curve of all the other Whovians, but we just pretend we're time-traveling to the day of the broadcast premiere. It adds to the overall gestalt of following The Doctor.

We've all been holding our breaths to see how Peter Capaldi would fare in the role of Doctor Who. No doubt Steven Moffat is aware of that, and has appropriately titled this new adventure "Deep Breath." I knew I was going to be pleased right off when I saw we were going to once again visit Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax in the good old Victorian era. The TARDIS comes careening in, covered in gook, which we quickly deduce to be dinosaur digestive juices. This explains why there's a dinosaur stomping about in the Thames. What it doesn't explain is why the TARDIS has never before transported through time and space with vestigial remnants of its former surroundings. (Ostensibly, one wouldn't expect the dinosaur that swallowed the TARDIS to transport with the TARDIS, but it sure was fun to see!)

The Doctor is still going through the mania that accompanies his regenerations, and Clara (Jenna Coleman) is experiencing the shock of being the Doctor's companion when this happens. Her young "not-her-boyfriend" Doctor, played by Matt Smith, is gone, replaced with this gray-haired occasionally Scottish gentleman with lines on his face.

As the Doctor struggles to put his mind into some semblance of order, people are dying under conditions of spontaneous combustion. Or, so it appears -- and nothing is ever as it appears in Doctor Who. Before long, our heroes find themselves up against clockwork automata, who are attempting vainly to replace all their mechanical parts with organic ones. Like Pinocchio, they want to be real. If this seems a bit similar to the events of when the Doctor and Rose found themselves aboard the spaceship SS Madame de Pompadour, they should, as the events are closely related, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if this leads to a future adventure to the time that these ships were launched.

Notable in this adventure is a surprise cameo by Matt Smith's Doctor, who calls across time, pre-regeneration, to assure Clara that he still needs her help. And there's the introduction of a new character, Missy, who apparently has a romantic attachment to The Doctor and serves to welcome people to a sort of après-vie. Whether she's a villain or something more remains to be seen. (Unless you've already seen it, you BBC America subscribers, in which case, hold your tongues!)

This DVD release includes the prequel scene, which is Strax doing video blogging during a crisis, some behind the scenes clips, the "Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor" special broadcast that introduced Peter Capaldi to fans, and a documentary entitled "The Real History of science Fiction: Time" which features not only clips from Doctor Who, but also interviews with Rutger Hauer and bits of "Blade Runner" as well as interviews with Christopher Lloyd and scenes of him as Doc Brown in "Back to the Future."

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0