First Broadcast 23rd August, 2014 @ 6.50pm (9.17m viewers)
Peter Capaldi is the Doctor!
With great fanfare Peter Capaldi’s debut episode as the Twelfth Doctor was introduced to the world with special screenings in Cardiff, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Mexico City and Rio De Janeiro. For those unlucky millions who weren’t able to attend one of these screenings the episode was broadcast in the UK on BBC One and in cinemas across the country and around the world. This level of heavyweight promotion was designed to encourage viewers to give Capaldi’s new incarnation a chance to impress. Since the announcement of his casting the Twelfth Doctor was judged “too old” and “scary” for younger viewers, following the two youthful incarnations of David Tennant and Matt Smith. However, this extended episode cements the new Doctor firmly in the mould of those who had gone before but with a fresh direction grounded upon an unpredictable and fearsome nature.
Familiar Faces Return
Familiarisation strategies were again utilised for the presentation of the new Doctor with returning characters Vastra, Jenny and Strax. The Clockwork Droids also return, following the example set by the Daleks (Power of the Daleks), the Master (Castrovalva and TV Movie), the Rani (Time and the Rani), the Autons (Rose) and Cassandra (New Earth), as a familiar antagonist combats the unfamiliar new Time Lord. Although still droids powered by clockwork mechanics the villains were given an impressive redesign, becoming more realistic and fitting the gritty and brutal nature of the Victoria London environment and abandoning the stylistic beauty and intricacies seen in ‘The Girl in the Fireplace‘. In keeping with this direction the central villain of the piece would prove particularly impressive.
All the scenes with the Half Faced Man are memorable. The astounding technical accomplishment of portraying an individual with Clockwork mechanisms inside his head was achieved with a combination of a physical prop and CGI. The results, even when analysed through the detail of HD, are spectacular. Beneath all the technical ingenuity there is also a solid performance of villainy from actor Peter Ferdinando. Scenes between Ferdinando and Capaldi are engrossing, culminating in their gripping final confrontation at the open doorway. Also worthy of praise is the scene between the Half Faced Man and Clara Oswald.
Memorable Moment 2
Viewers have shared the journey through the companion’s experiences since Doctor Who’s inception. On this occasion it is a journey of discovery. Clara and the audience are learning about the new Doctor. Throughout the episode Clara is unsure what to make of his new personality and is shocked when he abandons her. Terrified and confronted by the Half Faced Man she rediscovers her inner strength and is rewarded by rescue. As the Doctor puts it, “Five-foot-one and crying, you never stood a chance”. Hard to argue with that summation. Jenna Coleman simply nails that scene.
Memorable Moment 3
Matt Smith’s cameo, filmed during the production of ‘The Time of the Doctor’, was widely known. Filming the phone call on the streets of Cardiff had been prepared for with Capaldi’s new costume unveiled with an official photograph released the night before. However, eagle-eared observers of the filming uncovered the Matt Smith appearance. This would prove irrelevant as the whole script and episode, minus effects, were leaked onto the internet anyway weeks before transmission. The reappearance of the Eleventh Doctor was another transparent attempt to ease the worries of younger viewers regarding the new Doctor. This decision indicates a genuine paranoia that a significant chunk of the audience would abandon the show. They needn’t have worried. Capaldi delivered such a strong performance in his first outing that the scene feels unnecessary.
Reviews for this story were largely positive with all concluding that Peter Capaldi is not just a worthy successor to Matt Smith but a contender for one of the best incarnations of the Time Lord ever seen. Fortunately it was only the beginning and makes us look forward to more Twelfth Doctor adventures to come.
Also broadcast On This Day… Nothing! It is the middle of the summer holidays in the UK!
The Doctor – Peter Capaldi
Clara – Jenna Coleman
Madame Vastra – Neve McIntosh
Strax Dan – Starkey
Jenny Catrin – Stewart
Half-Face Man – Peter Ferdinando
Inspector Gregson – Paul Hickey
Alf – Tony Way
Elsie – Maggie Service
Cabbie – Mark Kempner
Barney – Brian Miller
Writer – Steven Moffat
Director – Ben Wheatley
Producer – Nikki Wilson