DOCTOR WHO is back, and Peter Calpadi is a different kind of mad

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[Warning: SPOILERS ahead for the Season 8 premiere of Doctor Who. Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the episode yet!]

As far as opening stories go once a regeneration kicks in, Doctor Who had a rather tepid start on the weekend. But while the tale of Victorian London, a time-displaced T-Rex and a nod back to an earlier episode may have had some issues with pacing, new Doctor Peter Capaldi is already carrying a half century legacy of wibbly wobbly time travel on his back in magnificent fashion.

And that’s because regeneration is a pretty rare thing to see in Doctor Who. Sure, it may have been seen far more frequently in Matt Smith’s run as the Time Lord, but The Time Of The Doctor finally pushed his Doctor into a completely new cycle of death-cheating biology, with Capaldi’s Doctor emerging as his newest face. A face that has a far more darker nature to it and an alien nature that doesn’t rely on being weird. Also, attack eyebrows.

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But it’s more than just a Regeneration story we have here. For the most part, the Doctor isn’t even present in the first half of Deep Breath, with Clara taking time to adjust and finding out that her usual charms won’t work on this incarnation of the ageless time traveller, with hints being thrown around that she subliminally wants to hang around with a person that she can control. There’s a new dynamic at play here between Doctor and companion, and you can bet that there’ll be some golden lines uttered between the two as they find a comfortable partnership.

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And of course, we have the return of Jenny, Vastra and Strax, a trio of Doctor Who characters who deserve their own spin-off show so damn bad. It’d be like Downtown Abbey, except people would most likely be eaten. But they’d be bad people. I think. I’m not good at pitching TV shows. And it’s fantastic how Doctor Who is the only show that can feature a lesbian married couple, with one of them being a lizard humanoid from the center of the Earth who happens to have rather strange eating habits, and make it work so well that they appear time and time again.

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And of course, Strax. Wonderful, wonderful Strax and his inability to understand anything about humans without falling back on Sontaran training.

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But as for Peter Capaldi, he’s off to a fine start already. As mentioned above, there’s a darker side to this Doctor, but he’s not without some lighter moments as well. From ranting about the planet of the pudding brains to discussing his new face with a terrified hobo, Capaldi’s Doctor clearly has some Malcom Tucker-ish mannerisms that have crept into this regeneration.

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But when he sets out to do right, he’s frightening. He has an intensity that no other Doctor can match, and venturing into a den of clockwork killer robots with human body parts grated to their addled processors is just magical.

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But it’s near the end of the episode, when you see that this Doctor is rather vulnerable and scared. There’s a frightened Time Lord behind those steely eyes, a being who doesn’t know just where his place in the universe is exactly and is uncomfortable with hugging now. And when Matt Smith’s Doctor shows up for one final appearance, you realise just how different the show is going to be from now on.

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Of course, while the majority of episodes will be standalone adventures, there’s also the mystery of Missy, gatekeeper of paradise it would seem. Is she really the girlfriend of the Doctor? Or merely a very obsessive stalker? That’s one mystery that I’m going to enjoy seeing unravel and see what her connection and interest in the Doctor and Clara really is.

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But I have a feeling that it’s going to be a whopper.

Last Updated: August 25, 2014

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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