Despite an elevator-pitch style premise, and a plot that borrows elements from many previous episodes, I’d rate this as the best dalek story1 since Genesis. Unlike many Dalek stories, the Daleks were properly scary, thanks to a carefully crafted set-up and a well-calibrated threat-level. Well paced, well-plotted, with an interesting structure representing the multi-layered question at is core: fascinating storytelling. This was the first episode in which we get to see the non-traumatised 12th Doctor and – wow. We really are getting something quite new: has the Doctor ever been as dark as in that sequence from asking Ross to swallow the power cell to “he’s the top layer, if you want to say a few words”. Unlike the 6th, he’s not doing this for effect; it’s delivered with a chilling detachment. Anyway, I discussed all this and much more with Eugene in this week’s Fusion Patrol podcast:
A couple of things I didn’t find time to mention in my Deep Breath review last week:
- Missy: the intriguing epilogue featuring, apparently, an afterlife (like ‘The Library’?) and a batty woman in black who thinks the Doctor is his boyfriend, knows his 11/12th & 12/13th faces, and both placed the advert bringing the Doctor and Clara to Mancini’s, as well as feeding Clara the Doctor’s telephone number in The Bells of St John. As a coda, it was intriguing and an obvious set up to a season-arc. The sequel here, intruding on Into the Dalek, interrupted the action and undermined a powerful death scene.
- The title sequence: based on a fan-made Youtube video which I loved, the production values improve the cog and wonderful, wonderful spiral clockface segments. But they’ve abandoned the concept of the pocket watch and the Gallifreyan seal and shoved in a rather weak vortex effect. Also the new theme tune: I love the clock chimes that accompany the cogs, but I’m lukewarm about the electronic squealing. Overall, sound & vision together: first half excellent, second half mediocre.
Overall I’m certainly enjoying series 34 (aka series 8) so far!
which I think is probably best defined as any story with ‘dalek(s)’ in the title ↩