Tue, 2 September 2014
"Deep Breath" is the first episode of theeighth series of the British science fictiontelevision programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One and released in cinemas on 23 August 2014. It was written by showrunner and executive producer Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley.
The episode stars Peter Capaldi in his first full episode as the Twelfth Doctor, alongsideJenna Coleman as his companion Clara Oswald. It also features Neve McIntosh,Catrin Stewart, and Dan Starkey reprising their roles as Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax. Capaldi's predecessor, Matt Smith, also appears in a cameo.
A dinosaur materialises in Victorian London and spits out the TARDIS onto the banks of the river Thames, from which emerges the freshly regenerated Twelfth Doctor—suffering from post-regenerative trauma—and Clara Oswald. They are greeted by the Paternoster Gang, comprised of Silurian Madame Vastra, her human maid and wife Jenny, and Sontaran butler Strax. The Gang instruct the police on how to calm and contain the dinosaur and take the Doctor and Clara to their residence, where the Doctor rests and Vastra confronts Clara about her prejudiced attitude to the Doctor's changed face. Clara admits that she is struggling to adapt to the new Doctor, due to his stark difference to the old one, particularly his apparent age. The Doctor awakens to hear the dinosaur's pleas for help before it spontaneously combusts. The Doctor joins Clara and the Paternoster Gang at the river and learns from Vastra that this is not the first incident of spontaneous combustion recently. The Doctor spots an unfazed man across the river and jumps in to investigate. Clara returns home with the others to start their own investigations, hoping they will cross the Doctor's path.
The Doctor roams back streets for answers the next morning, questioning how his body chooses a new face during regeneration. Both Clara and the Doctor find a message reading "The Impossible Girl" in a newspaper, directing them to a restaurant where they reunite but learn that neither planted the message for the other, as they had both assumed. They realise that the room is filled with robots to prevent them leaving. They are descended into a lair where they see the man from the river surrounded by other idle, human-like robots. The Doctor surmises the man is a long-lived cyborg, but in the unusual sense that it is a robot trying to make himself human by replacing his parts with biological ones taken from the victims of spontaneous combustion, including the dinosaur.
The Doctor leaves Clara as the robots and the cyborg begin to awaken after escaping himself. Recalling his earlier advice, Clara holds her breath to hide herself from the robots, but she is soon captured and taken to the cyborg. He states that he is trying to reach the "promised land" by prolonging his life via parts replacements and questions her on the Doctor's whereabouts. The Doctor returns with the Paternoster Gang to fight the robots with Clara whilst the Doctor chases the cyborg back to the restaurant. The cyborg releases a hot-air balloon made of human skin, lifting the restaurant into the sky with him and the Doctor inside. The Doctor interrogates the cyborg, who reveals that he and parts of the restaurant are from the SS Marie Antoinette, the sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadour ("The Girl in the Fireplace"). The Doctor warns the cyborg that he will either have to kill himself, or he will kill him to protect the humans. Moments later, the cyborg falls from the balloon and is impaled on the spire of Big Ben. Clara and the Paternoster Gang see the other robots go lifeless after his death.
After regrouping, Clara finds that the Doctor and the TARDIS have vanished. Vastra assures her that the Doctor will return, pointing out that Clara as the person that knows the Doctor the best is already prepared to leave. The Doctor reappears, planning to take Clara home, but instead arrives in Glasgow, where a phone call from the Eleventh Doctor to Clara moments before the regeneration from his perspective encourages her to stay.
In the epilogue, the cyborg awakens in a beautiful garden, and meets Missy, a mysterious woman who claims the Doctor as her boyfriend. She tells him that he has reached the promised land at last.
Towards the end of the story, the Doctor speculates on the identity of the person that wrote the Impossible Girl newspaper article; the Doctor postulates if this person was the same one that gave Clara the number for the TARDIS phone on the claim it was a computer help line as shown in "The Bells of Saint John". The Doctor, while confused about his new look, recalls how it appears similar to another that he's seen. The Tenth Doctor met a man named Caecilius in "The Fires of Pompeii", played by Capaldi. The call from the Eleventh Doctor to Clara is shown from the Eleventh Doctor's perspective from his final moments before regeneration on the planet Trenzalore, which reused some footage from "The Time of the Doctor" and included new footage with a surprise cameo by Matt Smith. The closing dialogue between Clara and the Doctor about chips, and the Doctor's inability to pay for them, recalls a similar exchange between the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler at the conclusion of "The End of the World".
Matt Smith's cameo as the Eleventh Doctor was filmed on 5 October 2013, the last day of shooting for "The Time of the Doctor". Moffat had written Smith's scene prior to the rest of the episode. The readthrough for the episode was held on 17 December 2013, and shooting began at the Maltings in Cardiff on 7 January 2014. Shooting later took place at Mount Stuart Square on the 13th, Scenes were also filmed on Queen Street and on the 28th. The shoot finished on 18 February 2014.
Steven Moffat has said that this episode would be a "big introduction" for Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. He said that there will be "plenty of action and nonsense and jeopardy, as there ever is in Doctor Who."
Brian Miller, who plays the tramp Barney, was the husband of Elisabeth Sladen who portrayed long-time companion Sarah Jane Smith. He had previously appeared inSnakedance in Season 20, as well as playing Harry Sowersby in The Mad Woman in the Attic, an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and providing Dalek voices for bothResurrection of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks.
Broadcast and reception
On 6 July 2014, the scripts for the first five episodes of the series (including "Deep Breath") were inadvertently leaked online from BBC Worldwide's Latin America headquarters, prompting a plea from BBC Worldwide to keep the storylines of the five episodes secret.Also leaked was a black-and-white rough cut of "Deep Breath", missing most of the visual effects but otherwise mostly complete. The BBC blamed the leak on the fact that the files had been stored on a publicly accessible server in its new Miami-based headquarters. Steven Moffat, speaking at the London Film and Comic Con, called the leak "horrible, miserable and upsetting".
The episode was a simulcast in the United Kingdom and many other countries on 23 August 2014, and was broadcast later that same day in other locations such as on BBC America. On 31 August 2014, the episode was broadcast on Prime TV in New Zealand.
The episode had its world premiere in Cardiff on 7 August 2014 as part of the series 8 world tour. As part of the tour, advance screenings were also held at other destinations on the tour. As with "The Day of the Doctor", "Deep Breath" received a worldwide cinema release at participating cinemas on 23 August 2014. The episode received a midnight screening in 12 cities across the United States on 23 August, and a larger showing in 550 cinemas on 25 August. The cinema screenings of the episode were accompanied by a five minute prequel.
Upon airing in its 7.50pm timeslot, the "Deep Breath" simulcast entertained an average audience of 6.79 million in the United Kingdom. The episode reached a peak of 6.96 million viewers, watched by nearly a third of all viewers on the evening of broadcast with a 32.5% audience share. The final ratings for the week, which include BBC iPlayer viewers and others who watched the programme within a week of its transmission, showed 9.17 million viewers, making it the second highest rated programme for the week on British television.
In the United States, the premiere airing on BBC America had an audience of 2.2 million viewers, the highest Saturday ratings for the network and just under the highest viewership from the "The Day of the Doctor" special, and a significant increase from the 1.5 million that had watched the Series 7 premiere in 2012. In Australia, the episode had a total of 858,000 viewers on ABC: 148,000 watched a simulcast at 4:30am, and 710,000 watched a primetime replay at 7:40pm.
The episode received positive reviews, with many critics praising Moffat's script, the introduction and stylisation of the new Doctor, and the performances of Capaldi and Coleman.
The Guardian responded well to the episode, labelling Capaldi's performance as "intimidating, bold and unsettling", and praising Ben Wheatley's direction in the episode's tenser moments, calling it "the stuff of true terror and wonderment". Matt Smith's cameo as the Eleventh Doctor was criticised by The Mirror. However, it ultimately labelled the episode "impeccable" and stating that Capaldi "has all the hallmarks of a great Doctor".
Brian Lowry of Variety praised Moffat's script, stating that it "emphasizes storyline continuity and easing faithful viewers into the regeneration transition" and closed his review by saying "It’s a skillful tonal balance that defines the best of “Doctor Who,” and exemplifies the ethos that keeps the series going strong, nodding to the past with all eyes on the future".David Wiegand of San Francisco Chronicle heavily praised the episode, particularly Moffat's writing, saying that his script "masterfully manipulates audience expectation". He ultimately awarded the episode a perfect 4/4 stars.
"Deep Breath" will receive a standalone DVD and Blu-ray release in the United Kingdom on 8 September 2014, the United States on 9 September, and Australia on 10 September. Thereafter, it will be released in the Complete Eighth Series DVD and Blu-ray boxset in the United Kingdom on 17 November 2014, and Australia on 19 November.[43