Right off the bat the theme music is all different and as are the titles. They look great, I'm not so taken by the music. Maybe it's my TV, but it seemed more tinny than ominous or deep in sound. But between the pre-titles and opening minutes, there's plenty of excitement and interest as the new Doctor starts to show some of his new personality. Loud, somewhat abrasive, energetic. I think it's important that the Doctor is in contrast to his previous self. Matt Smith's Doctor was too much like David Tennant at the beginning, he started to become his own later on but broadly there was too much similarity. That cannot be said of Capaldi's Doctor in this.
The dinosaur seemed a bit of a waste. It did nothing and soon died, it seems included as a gimmick to advertise the story on the TV trailers rather than serve much purpose in the story. Also it was the size of Godzilla, it stood as tall as Big Ben and could swallow and regurgitate the Police Box with no trouble. It was definitely identified as being from prehistoric Earth but was impossibly large. Either they have or haven't the budget to do dinosaurs in London properly.
Moffat was indulging himself again, littered with reference to previous stories written by himself, and full of his own characters. Vastra and company are rather superfluous, they are there to stretch out the story by half an hour and do the same jokes. Yes, we know Strax doesn't get human biology and there is lots of inscrutable cleverness from Vastra, plus waving some swords around and a lesbian kiss. I'm pretty bored of these characters now and Moffat insists on pushing them in continually. Talking of Moffat rehashing old ideas and themes, this episode was 'don't breathe' instead of 'don't blink'. Really? What next? Monsters you have to put your fingers in your ears to overcome?
Most of these distractions got in the way of enjoying the new Doctor, who was clearly the best thing in the programme. A smaller more personal story with Clara and the Doctor would have worked better I think, this was over long to accommodate Vastra and team not to give the Doctor more screen time. Capaldi was hugely enjoyable in the part with his wild, but not pantomime, performance and the craziest eyes since Tom Baker. The robot threat was pretty small potatoes it seems. Obviously the Doctor couldn't let it go on with them murdering people for body parts, but it works as the story is giving Capaldi time to lay the groundwork for his Doctor. The scene in the alley was my favourite, with a particularly haywire Doctor demanding the tramp hand over his coat. Things really start to work once he meets Clara at the restaurant. The way the characters play off each other here is at the episode's best which is why I feel the story didn't need the inclusion of so many others.
|"I stole this off a tramp. Don't smell. You won't gag if you don't smell"|
Did the Doctor push the robot or did he jump? In an attempt to darken the series, we'll likely never know. But it's not without precedent, if it was the 1st Doctor, he would have pushed him. Hartnell's Doctor was a killer, see him throw an assassin from a first floor window in The Romans, or hitting a man over the head with a shovel in Reign of Terror. Tom Baker's Doctor gassed Solon with cyanide. Also playing with cyanide was Colin Baker's Doctor when he killed Shockeye in the Two Doctors. It's not a new thing, but I hope it doesn't become a theme as fundamentally the Doctor is a good person who kills only as a last resort and clearly finds it regrettable afterwards.
Overall, pretty good but too long given the material. It was long because there were too many characters needing screen time, when this episode was about the Doctor and Clara rediscovering him after regeneration. Capaldi was ace, I think we all agree on that.