Series 8 opener Deep Breath had its world premiere in Cardiff today, with stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman in attendance – and some spoiler-free reviews of the episode have begun to come in. Here’s our round-up of the latest reviews of Deep Breath:
We’ll keep updating this post as Deep Breath continues to screen in further legs of the World Tour and more reviews are posted.
NOTE: While the selected quotes from the reviews are entirely spoiler-free, certain reviews contain mild spoilers.
With the scars of Trenzalore still fresh, Deep Breath keeps the pendulum swinging in the direction of darkness, complexity and insecurity. Capaldi is brooding, intense, slightly intimidating and at times, unnerving. That doesn’t mean he’s unlikeable, but he certainly has aspects of the anti-hero about him and that’s absolutely fine by me.
Moffat has delivered the perfect blend for Saturday night TV – bags of action, drama and humour. There are nods to previous episodes and cheeky acknowledgements of previous Doctors, but done in such a way as to delight the hard-core fans while not distracting the new.
Sumptuous period vistas, breathtaking monsters and heart-pumping action sequences are all there in good supply, but the 75 minute length also gives the story room to breathe, and the moments of quiet character reflection are some of the strongest we’ve seen in the revived show.
Deep Breath may be a slightly quieter introduction for Peter Capaldi in some senses than people are expecting. Yet it’s hard to avoid an underlying confidence that all concerned know they’re onto something here. And with some flat out brilliant moments in the last third, there’s an old fashioned ethos of putting in the foundations, doing the ground work, and building on substance.
This was a highly effective opener, showing that Doctor Who is still the most intelligent, ambitious and eccentric show on British television. In his unsettling, cerebral performance, Capaldi fits right in.
Bold, adventurous, assured, gritty, Sherlock-smart, personally vulnerable and something beyond mesmeric, Capaldi brings some of the best elements of the 70s Doctors, adds a pinch of McCoy’s manipulation, and sears his new interpretation onto 21st century Who.
It is a perfectly paced, hugely enjoyable 80 minutes of everything you want from Doctor Who – action, silly jokes and enthralling sci-fi.
As the credits rolled the room erupted. It’s safe to say Deep Breath is what Whovians have been clamouring for, waiting so (in)patiently since Christmas Day for new Doctor Who and to have it return and deliver on such a monumental scale as it has done here, it’s hard to argue with that kind of reaction.
The “blockbuster of the week” feel already seems to have gone. There is some excellent CGI and some great action sequences but overall the episode felt more like a character piece than an adrenaline-packed thrill ride.
Deep Breath is not the most riveting Doctor Who story ever told, but the 80 minutes fly by and it fulfils its mission to reboot. There’s a striking change in Steven Moffat’s style of storytelling. Who knows if this will pervade the entire season but Deep Breath, at least, bears a slow-down in pace (less wham-bam, more sit down and talk) and a marked change in tone (sombre, sepia, befitting its Victorian setting).
But in truth, the measure of writer Steven Moffat and director Ben Wheatley’s smart, funny Capal-debut’s success is its assurance: it knows what it wants, knows what it doesn’t want and says “Shush” to anything in between.
Deep Breath is vintage Moffat: packed full of clever, quotable dialogue delivered with relish, breathless action, and scenes that turn on a sixpence from intense character drama to sinister suspense.
Unsettling and genuinely disquieting at times, this episode will have you practicing the length of time you can hold your breath – and watch out for a massive surprise. Despite its 80-minute running length, it’s well-paced, deftly moving from moments of light (there are some cracking one-liners and amusingly playful Scottish/English teasing) to moments of shade.
Unlike The Eleventh Hour, then, it is very unlikely that Deep Breath will go down as one of the great episodes of the new Who. But the early signs are that in Peter Capaldi we might just have the modern era’s defining Doctor…
Capaldi, a lifelong fan living the dream, snaps straight into the role and you accept him instantly, despite his vast disparity with Matt Smith. He channels some of the charismatic fierceness of The Thick Of It‘s Malcolm Tucker. This is something Moffat embraces in his smart, zinging script, and it’s the foundation of a whole new relationship with companion Clara (Coleman) which really gives the episode its pulse.
With a few familiar faces – including some extra-terrestrial ones – welcomed back along the way, and an intriguing, far-reaching religious concept thrown in for good measure, there was plenty to savour in Deep Breath.
NOTE: Avoid the Daily Mirror review if you’re staying away from spoilers at all, as it contains major spoilers for the episode’s concluding scenes.
Deep Breath airs on Saturday 23rd August.