I'll be writing some verse and penning some thoughts about series 8 of Doctor Who for every episode as they are released. Discussion of the episodes is welcome in the comments! There will be spoilers.
Into the Intro
Swirling clocks reimagining the future
into something more real than tangible
unleashing the cretaceous
and caging our inner turmoil
as we tear away our finery
and the faces we placed on our mirrors
useless when we burn the flesh from our bones
with the highlight of infirmary
Rewound and Reworked
you're not entirely recreated
you're not a broom handle
you're not all skin and bones
there is something more beating in your chest
waiting for you to inhale
Deep Breath – thoughts
The hand over from one Doctor to another is always a tricky proposition, as you have to introduce a new Doctor, show that that Doctor is the Doctor we've always known and loved, show that Doctor as being different enough to justify swapping the actors out, and introduce the show to people who are just dropping in,all while keeping the people who liked the last Doctor involved and get the people who didn't interested. Its hard to judge some of those things, since I'm neither new to the show nor disliking of the 11th Doctor Era in any way, but it was quite remarkable how utterly different the show felt. If I was a casual viewer, I might have wondered if the entire production team had been swapped out.
But it wasn't, of course. The last time we got a whole production team swap out was at the end of the Russel T. Davies Era, which ironically led to the new production team copying the structure of the last four series in order to get themselves on their feet, before trying something totally different with series 6 and 7. In some ways the Matt Smith Era works as an extension of the Davies Era: plot threads are meaningfully carried through from one to the other, and the same sort of manic smirky tone is carried through as well, abet jacked up to 11.
Deep Breath however, may as well be a new show. Sure, its anchored in references to the past as well as characters, but its not a show that could have starred Matt Smith, David Tennant, or Christopher Eccleston. While the last three Doctors were all different, Smith and Tennant both got story briefs that were hand me downs from the last Doctor. There was a sort of synergy between them, while this really felt like much more of a clean break.
A lot has already been made of the Paternoster Gang being “the new UNIT” that is, the group used as synergy between one era of the show and another, so there isn't much to say about it that hasn't been said already other than I totally agree with it.
To me the most interesting change is structural however. I could write a huge amount on the story/series structrure of Doctor Who, and if there was ever a sequel to An Eloquence of Time and Space (oh no, the book isn't even out the door, someone slap me and save me from these thoughts) a very long essay on the structure of the show and its changes would be a must. To be quick about it: the show has massively changed its structure. The obvious bit everyone is talking about is that the show now has longer scenes with more dialogue, and more lingering moments, which is a180 from the series 6 and 7 experiments in how much story you could tell in a condensed form, but that's not the only change. Along with this comes a change in the type of story being told. First of all, this is a much smaller scale story. There is no mass annihilation that will happen if the heroes fail, this is no epic fight. The scales are individual murders, with the T-Rex being a feint at the tale's front that we'll be getting the sort of grand epic adventure on the scale of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. This T-Rex is instead given inner thoughts, and sadness. The scale is a personal one, and it works just fine.
But in order to make this new type of story work, the language the show is conveying the story to us has to change as well, and the clear inspiration for what we have here is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not in any obvious way, but in the bones of the story. Buffy made itself successful by creating a story around its characters that was a mirror of their inner problems. The villains were not just villains, but a reflection of something within the characters that needed to be conquered. The villains are not just monsters the Doctor has discovered on his adventures, but a reflection of the fears Clara has about who the Doctor is now, and the Doctor's own concern about his new self. The clear mirroring of the clockwork droids stealing faces, and the Doctor wondering where his face came from is probably the most noticeable part of this. This isn't just a change in how Doctor Who is being told, we have seen that before, this is a change in the type of story, and its fascinating to see.
Of course, this is only one story. For all I know the next episode could be totally different and this just be a one off thing, but I very much doubt that. Next week we'll be into the Dalek!
Oh, and before I forget: apparently Heaven is a thing, thought its not really Heaven clearly enough. Who Missy is, and why she is apparently in Heaven letting people in is something that's probably going to be up for a lot of debate till its answered.
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.