Five more days until “Deep Breath”! Yes, we’re going to see it in the theater. We don’t have TV service (we just don’t watch enough TV to justify that expense), and while I am planning to download the episode from BBC iPlayer on Saturday, we’re going to watch it for the first time on Monday. The theater experience on the 50th anniversary was just electric, and while we don’t expect it to be as wonderful this time, we definitely want to experience the episode for the first time in the same way.
By the time we see it, it will have been exactly eight months since the last new Doctor Who episode, and it’s been a long and agonizing wait. I am very excited to meet the new Doctor and see what he’s like and where he takes us. We’ve been promised more mature and dark, and if it’s fair to look back on old Doctors to pick out traits I’m hoping for, I’d like him to have the Third Doctor’s style and abrasiveness (and physical strength), the Sixth Doctor’s arrogance, and the Ninth Doctor’s disdain. However, I’ll be happy with the new Doctor, as long as he’s the Doctor.
I am, however, a bit apprehensive about this new season. Series 7 was a big disappointment for me, and I’m going into Series 8 with an open mind and as few spoilers as possible, but it was impossible to be completely deaf to all of the hype and there are a couple of things that I’ve heard that have bothered me. The first is the repeated assurance that this Doctor is going to be “dark.” Now, I like that idea, because it always seemed to me that the Eleventh Doctor was pretty much just goofy, with splashes of bombastic thrown in. He was a lot of fun to watch, but he was never a good Doctor in my mind. It will be nice to bring seriousness and severity back. However, the word “dark” has been repeated so much, I’m starting to wonder whether it’s the right direction. The implication is that this Doctor is supposed to throw back to personalities of the older incarnations, but actually, the Doctor has rarely been “dark”: I’d say the only incarnations that have been dark are the Seventh Doctor, the Ninth Doctor, and the Tenth Doctor (in Series 4 and the specials). Since the dark Doctors have been recent, the reaction of making the Twelfth Doctor “dark” is only a contrast against the Eleventh Doctor, and if they consider this such an important point that they need to repeat it in every statement about the series, they’re making me afraid they’re going to take it too far. I don’t want them to change the base nature of the Doctor, the reason why we watch the show, in the pursuit of adding darkness to the character.
The other thing that bothers me is the (again oft-repeated) announcement that this series is going to show that “there are consequences to choosing to live like this,” referring to the companions choosing to travel with the Doctor. The implication is that companions will find that they get hurt (physically or emotionally) and lose things in the course of their adventures. They announced this like it’s some huge revelation that the audience has never seen before, and yet this was the point of Series 1 through 4: all of these series were about the companions and their families getting tortured and torn apart by the storms that accompany the Doctor. It’s the classic show and Series 5-7 that have companions who barely have any lives, families, friends, concerns outside of the Doctor. Again, if they feel that this point, which was made so well and so subtly with the Tylers, Joneses, and Nobles, is so important that it’s part of their marketing, I’m afraid that they’re going to overdo it. One of the weaknesses of the recent storytelling is that they’ve felt the need to announce the moral of the story with big flashing lights to make sure the audience gets it, rather than demonstrating it as part of the story and letting the audience draw its own conclusions, and I’m apprehensive that this is the direction this new “consequences” emphasis is going to go.
So, I’ve resolved to go into “Deep Breath” with an open mind; it doesn’t help anyone to dwell on what might happen. What I’m hoping for is a fantastic Doctor-introduction episode which, like “The Christmas Invasion” and “The Eleventh Hour,” shows us all of this incarnation’s salient personality traits, with a bunch of action and humor on the side. And for future episodes, as long as they have good stories, I’m good with it. Despite my reservations, I’m looking forward to the next season of my favorite show and the new Doctor that’s on his way.