Episode 1 – DEEP BREATH

Just like his three predecessors, Peter Capaldi was on fire as the Doctor from day one. The dinosaur time travelling with the TARDIS didn’t make sense as the TARDIS dematerialises without taking anything with it such as buildings it’s been parked in, so why it took the dinosaur was a bit strange. Apart from that though, this is a near flawless script from Steven Moffat. The new set of regenerations had messed with the Doctor and it was fascinating to see him try to make sense of his surroundings. Vastra, Jenny and Strax were back and again were a joy to watch. Vastra’s meeting with Clara where she wore her veil was a brilliantly written scene. I loved the idea that the Doctor was finally lifting his veil to reveal the ancient man that he is, and that was probably due to his actions in The Day of the Doctor. After looking young for his past two, arguably three regenerations, the Doctor was back to the more traditional, older and sterner man that began the show back in the sixties. It was refreshing to see such a different take on the role in the modern era after David Tennant and Matt Smith had portrayed relatively similar incarnations. Clara’s response to Vastra’s little jibe at her was impressive, as she proved her feelings for the Doctor were more than just a crush. There was a great deal more to the episode than just the Doctor and Clara though. The clockwork droids were back for the first time since series two, and they were arguably even more sinister in this episode. I loved the scene on the street where the half faced man accepted the “gift” of the man’s eyes, it was truly grim. The restaurant scene with the Doctor and Clara was another intense one. Realising that everyone else wasn’t breathing was spooky and it led on to the resolution of the story. This episode also kicked off the new series arc, the “Promised Land”. This was where the droids were aiming to get to and at the end of the story we met a rather mad lady who welcomed the dead half faced man to the apparent Promised Land. She was another arc that lasted the series. “The woman in the shop” who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number back in series seven also continued as that same woman appeared to have put an advert in the paper for the Doctor and Clara to meet. Moffat cleverly reintroduced this “woman” at the same time we saw the lady in the Promised Land for the first time. The episode ended dramatically as the half faced man fell from his ship and died. But did he fall or did the Doctor push him? Personally I think the Doctor pushed him. This episode was all about introducing one of the darkest incarnations of the Doctor and although we didn’t see the Doctor push him on screen, I think that’s what we were meant to believe. The eleventh Doctor’s phonecall from Trenzalore to Clara to urge her to help the terrified new twelfth Doctor was a nice touch and fittingly wrapped up an excellent start to the Peter Capaldi era. 9/10

Episode 2 – INTO THE DALEK

In my opinion, this is quite an underrated Dalek story. Granted, it’s not at the level of Dalek, but this proved again that just focussing the story around one Dalek makes the episode a more thrilling and scary watch. We explored the idea if the Doctor was a good man following his regeneration. Clara answered “I don’t know, but I think you try to be” and that’s the perfect way to describe the twelfth Doctor. He saves Journey from almost certain death in the first few minutes of the episode, but then is shockingly dismissive of the fact her brother just died. I enjoyed watching the Doctor try to do the right thing and the question was certainly intriguing. When the Doctor and co. were miniturised and entered the Dalek, we were given an atmospheric and dark story that didn’t slow down at any point. The anti-bodies posed a serious threat to the crew and then when the Doctor actually fixed the Dalek, it was great to see it actually go on a rare killing spree.  This was the most threatening a Dalek had been in the Moffat era and it was certainly a welcome change. To see the Doctor almost pleased that the Dalek was still evil and he was right did make you question if he was a good man even more seriously. Clara again played an important role as she literally slapped the Doctor back to his senses and pleaded with him to try and change the Dalek back.  I liked the Dalek looking into this newly regenerated Doctor and seeing hatred, it added a lot to this incarnation’s image as a dark Doctor. The episode only really went downhill when we saw a large fleet of a Daleks underperforming. It was a new and inventive way to write a Dalek story and it was a satisfying watch. I liked the way the Dalek chose to destroy the rest of his kind after he looked into the Doctor’s soul. Again, this made you think the Doctor might not be a good man yet, but he believes killing the Daleks is a kindness to the rest of the universe. Phil Ford is a drastically underused writer on the show. This, which he co-wrote with Moffat, along with the stunning The Waters of Mars are shockingly his only bits of work for the show. 8/10

Episode 3 – ROBOT OF SHERWOOD

Mark Gatiss couldn’t carry on his improved series seven form here as he scripted a pretty poor Robin Hood story. Robin Hood was written and acted far too generically to the point where all the laughing and chortling just got on my nerves. The golden arrow that was used to bring down the robot’s ship was inexplicably given away by the Sheriff in a pointless archery competition. Why would the Sheriff hold such an event if he needed all the gold he could get? Like I said with Peter Kay and Simon Pegg, comedians should refrain from appearing in the show as villains unless it’s a Christmas special. Ben Miller was so hammy, he belonged in a pantomime rather than Doctor Who. Throughout the story there never seemed to be any great deal of threat and that came from Miller’s performance as the Sheriff and the basic robots, who were futile. The one scene I did like was when the Doctor and Robin were squabbling and the guard came in to take the ringleader away and as they continued to argue, Clara was taken away. Throughout the series, Clara’s ego was focussed on a lot, and her urge to be in charge did lead to her eventual downfall later in series nine. Apart from that scene, this is an episode that I struggled to engage with. Gatiss produced another stinker to add to his growing collection of poor scripts. 3/10

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