*The last paragraph expresses short analysis for those who don't want to sit through the long read* A few days ago I was a Doctor Who Virgin. Surprisingly enough, it was only a couple years ago that I heard of the show. Being a sci-fi fantasy enthusiast, it intrigued me. Though, considering the depth of the Doctor Who lore, I didn't know where to begin - so I didn't. Then one day, someone suggested that I could start with the new Doctor. For better or worse, Peter Capaldi's Doctor is where I began.
Walking in on show with a history, is sort of along the lines of walking in on an inside joke. You want to think that what you're experiencing is clever and entertaining, but you're not quite sure. Part of me hoped that this episode might be slightly catered to any newer audience (myself). I can understand why they didn't, at least it appears that way. They already had the objective of getting the audience acquainted to the new Doctor, allowing for grievance of no longer having the past incarnation of the Doctor, providing an entertaining episode, and on top of all that (plus more) they wanted to have some philosophical thoughts to provide tone for rest of the season.
Did they succeed in doing this? For the most part I would say yes. I don't really don't know the feel of the show, so it is hard to say, but the episode appears to succeed in passing on the torch. Peter Capaldi as my younger brother aptly suggested appears very much like Robert Downey's Sherlock Holmes. He is quirky, clever, a tad bit narcissistic, and loyal to his companion. From what I've heard and read of the Doctor, this is what they're going for.
Peter Capaldi does this about as well as one could ask him too. His face is almost expressive by nature and it fits him well as it is shown from scene one. The episode starts out as any good one should: with a dinosaur roaming Victorian London. OMG, so cliché! I've seen that a thousand times before! Here we get a first look at him as he is bumbling about in apparent disillusion and mild insanity. I had hoped that they might explain exactly why this was happening throughout the episode, such as the regeneration process doing something to him, but no real answers are given. As soon as we have time to get a feel for his new body (Ok, pretend I worded that differently), very much through our eyes and ears of the show Clara, we are thrown into a mystery of a man who doesn't have much consideration for humane treatment of CGI animals.
After a few more detours into digesting the character of the Doctor, we move further into the mystery of the episode and the relationship between him and his companion. Where this show appears to shine is in the dialogue between him and Clara. They feel very much like a seasoned couple that is surprisingly still learning new things about each other. Their dialogue is sharp and quick witted as they bounce off each other as well as one might like. They have a deep mutual respect and share a suggestively repressed eros that is at first unnerving due to his apparent age. She cares for him deeply, but does he care for her? This is answered as well as one could hope for as he comes to her rescue later in the episode as she is about to be tortured in the robotic lair. Though, what really elevates the episode is the final scene between him and the cyborg who subtly and quite brilliantly is able to convey his anguish of not fulling his deep yearning and desire to get to the promise land. The playout of the scene was handled with care and it is truly ballsy and almost honorable for the answer of whether it was a homicide or a suicide to not be answered. It is more poetic and sets the stage for a darker tone for the season, which from everything I've heard is where this show is headed.
The real question, though, is the show really entertaining? From this episode alone, I would say not completely. The pacing in the first half of the episode feels a bit lazy, some of the humor feels weak; and while the ending of the episode is really good, it at times feels forced. That being said, the premise and characters are interesting enough to warrant further viewing. I am not completely bought, but I didn't have to be. I'm intrigued enough. As I am writing this I have begun watching the 2005 incarnation played by Christopher Eccleston. Hopefully this will convince me to become a full-fledged Doctor Who supporter. I have been searching for top notch show to binge watch. This could be it.