The 8th series of Doctor Who is finally here! While it wasn't the mind-blowing experience we were hoping for, there's still quite a bit of good to take from it as well as a interesting set-up for the series-long story line. A recently regenerated Doctor and Clara head to Victorian London where a dinosaur, that they kind of brought there, is parading around They hook up with Vastra, Jenny, and Strax and find the dinosaur isn't the problem. There's droids taking human parts to make themselves more human.
There's a lot to dissect in this episode. Not only is it a new season, but it's a new Doctor. This is Peter Capaldi's first time in the shoes of the Doctor and it's always hard to judge what kind of Doctor he's going to be in a regeneration episode because regeneration always makes the Doctor a bit wonky. However, we do catch glimpses of something darker here.
Peter Capaldi does a solid job of honing in his version of the Doctor and that transition from a regenerated Doctor into a fully-functioning one. One thing I've missed, as a Doctor Who fan or "Whovian," is an older Doctor. I grew up with Sylvester McCoy as my Doctor, and I like the idea much more of an older Doctor because it gives his wisdom some credibility, even though the face is just a mask for the character, an idea made very clear in this episode to possibly calm down viewers over the change. Capaldi gives us a promising Doctor, if only the writer could give us the same.
At some point, during this episode, things got cartoony and a lot of it comes from the dialogue. The episode was written by Steven Moffat, a very polarizing force for fans. In the grand scheme of this episode's story, the writing works, but scene-by-scene and dialogue line-by-dialogue line, it ca be very rough sailing. Strax's, a Sontaran, dialogue is way out there and too goofy for the episode. While Sontaran's dialogue in past episode is a bit "out there" because they are a war culture, it felt like he just came off as silly and a dolt here. The same happened, to a much smaller extent, with Jenny and Vastra, as Jenny is holding a pose and it sees Vastra is painting, but it's revealed Vastra isn't actually painting and Jenny wonders why she's posing. Oh wacky jokes...
However, the worst part of the episode takes place when the Doctor and Vastra do a mindlink, so she can get the Doctor to fall asleep, what follows is a noise that could have only come from a Looney Tunes cartoon. It's the silliest and most ridiculous thing on the show. Finally, on the bad side of things, and jumping into Clara for one moment. She's written very poorly. This may as well be her first ride in the TARDIS and first meeting with the Doctor because she seems completely new to everything. Yes, this is her first time dealing with or knowing about regeneration, but things she should be accustomed to, like The Doctor's need to solve mysteries, confuse her. She has become the voice of the viewer that just started watching the show. She is the question that demands an expositional monologue.
As a whole, Moffat does have very cool ideas for stories. We're dealing almost with a reverse-Cyberman antagonist here, but one with enough humanity and reason to listen to what The Doctor is saying. It is a good jump-on point for new viewers as well, since there's so much dialogue about what's happening with the regeneration. While this episode is over-the-top, at times, it still brings a smile to my face and keeps me invested with the series, mainly to see the direction Capaldi is going to steer this character. However, so far, so good. Now, can someone contact Neil Gaiman to write another episode? We need more outside-the-box type stories.