Thursday, 21 August 2014

Deep Breath...

Hello, I'm a Whovian. If you don't mind, and you're not too busy, do you have a few minutes to discuss the (Time) Lord...known as The Doctor?

Okay, okay, before you give me a polite 'no' or shut the front door in my face, or invite me in for a cup of tea and say 'Well?' hoping I respond with 'I never thought I'd get this far...' (Spoiler Alert: I won't), just hear me out.

For anyone who's known me for much time at all, or has seen me on social media, you'll know I'm a pretty big Doctor Who fan. We're talking queue-up-early-in-the-morning-to-get-tickets-to-an-exclusive-screening big. I love this show, and I could write countless blog posts in a futile attempt to explain why.

For those who really know very little (or maybe nothing, though I'd find that hard to believe), I'll give you a quick video, from a YouTuber you may be aware of, explaining his love of the show, who gives a very quick and simple summary of the premise. If you are aware of the basic concepts of Doctor Who, you needn't feel obliged to watch this - I just thought this video was quite simple, to the point, non-intimidating, yada yada yada...:

There we are - now those who have no idea what I'm even on about should be vaguely up to speed.

But what I'm really attempting with this blog - which I try not to do too often - is to persuade you why you should watch the show - when it returns this Saturday, on the 23rd August (I am so excited I'm finding it difficult to contain myself gaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.....)

This Saturday is the start of Series 8 (the eighth series since it was revived in 2005). The first episode is called Deep Breath and stars a new actor, Peter Capaldi, in the title role. If ever there was a time to come aboard the Time-Ship, it's this week.

So, here are some selling points for 5 types of prospective viewers for Saturday's episode. If you don't think a particular bold heading remotely applies to you, feel free to scroll down until you find one that does. But if you're at all out-of-the-loop on where the story of Doctor Who currently is, it might be worth having a quick read of the 'All you might want to know for Deep Breath' section, along with the relative newcomers:

The casual viewer/the one that's not really watched much Doctor Who before:
The whole point of a regeneration story (in this case I mean the first episode that properly stars the new actor) is that the story is meant to be a jumping-on-point. So if you've caught bits and pieces of Doctor Who in the past, but weren't sure about getting into it because it's been running so long (51 years - on-and-off - this November) - it doesn't matter. The opening story for a new Doctor is meant to show you what the show's about, to introduce you to what it is. Because The Doctor has just changed, there'll be some references that'll go over your head, but you should be alright.

If you'd like a little context though, you can find it below - it may just be helpful so that you aren't left wondering what the hell's going on. (Although to be fair, sometimes even us fans are left wondering that... :P )

All you might want to know for Deep Breath is the following: When we last saw The Doctor, he was with his companion, Clara, and had just regenerated from Matt Smith's Doctor:
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) pictured here with companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman)

Into Peter Capaldi's Doctor:

"KIDNEYS! I've got new kidneys...I don't like the colour!" (Yes, that was genuinely his first line)

The TARDIS was last seen crashing, and The Doctor seemed to have, in his post-regenerative confused state, temporarily forgotten how to fly it.

Deep Breath takes place in Victorian London, home of The Doctor's friends, 'The Paternoster Gang':

This consists of Vastra, a Silurian (a lizard-woman from the dawn of time), Jenny, her wife (inter-species same-sex marriage for the win!) and Strax, a Sontaran (Son-TAR-an. Alien clone species bred for war. Yes they all look like potato-heads. Strax has been reduced to being Vastra & Jenny's butler and nurse. Long story.)

That ought to bring you up to speed. Any other long-term references you don't get, it's probably in there for long-term fans, but if you're particularly curious, you're welcome to ask me ;).

Please - give it a go. It's completely mad, but it's great fun, and quality drama. And maybe, just maybe, you'll be hooked and intrigued enough to watch the rest of the series...

You may want to scroll to the end now, if you fit into the above category.

However, for the other prospective viewers:

The Children of The '70s:
Did you watch Doctor Who as a child, but maybe haven't watched it since it came back? Perhaps you've decided that the most recent band of young, attractive-looking and flirty Doctors wasn't for you? Or maybe you just believe that the show just isn't what it was since Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker left.

Have they got a treat for you.

Deep Breath is a return to basics. There's no flirting going on between The Doctor and his companion - not anymore. This is The Doctor who is much more mercurial and alien again - stern like Pertwee. Mad and unpredictable like Baker. And yet very much a new man and new portrayal - Peter Capaldi.
Get ready. Doctor Who may have come back in 2005. But this Saturday: 23rd August 2014 - this is when your Doctor Who comes back!

The Matt Smith haters:
Bit of a strong term this one. Okay, so first off:
 Maybe you didn't hate Matt Smith as The Doctor. Then again, maybe you did. All I know is that his Doctor, and the brand of humour associated with him, was not to everyone's taste, and that's fine. Rest assured, though, Peter has brought back the intensity and darkness that was more present in Tennant and Eccleston's eras, and indeed some of the more alien qualities of earlier years of the show.
Either way, I think you'll like him. If the episode seems a little too silly at first, give it a break - Smith's fans need easing through the transition, so there are some hangover elements. They won't last too long and they certainly won't overshadow Peter's fantastic performance.

Which brings me on to...

The Matt Smith die-hards:
Did you join the show with Matt Smith? Are you still reeling from the departure of your Raggedy-Man? Will you be crying into your Fish Fingers and Custard this Saturday, still wondering why he had to say goodbye?
Don't worry - you're in safe hands. The show's not completely departed from Smith's era yet - Clara, Vastra, Jenny, Strax - they're all still there. Strax is still as hilarious as ever, and yes, The Doctor is still silly. There might be some times where you feel alienated - don't worry. Clara's going on this journey too, and you'll experience it with her. There are even some lines which you might feel are personal attacks on what you loved about Smith or Tennant - the notion of The Doctor looking young and handsome, for example, is perhaps not addressed in the kindest of ways - just stay with it. If you love Doctor Who, you'll still grow to love this version of it. Matt Smith may always be your Doctor, and there's nothing wrong with that - but you'll get used to Peter. Clara's still there - and despite what Deep Breath may suggest to you, romance has not been written out of the show - don't worry.

And if you're really good and make it through the whole episode, there's a little treat for you at the end... ;)

The Peter Capaldi fans:
Let's get one thing clear straight away:
I love Malcolm Tucker as much as you do, but The Doctor does not, nor will he, say "F***ity bye" at any point during the show.

(Well, it is Saturday-night family viewing. What did you expect?)

But Capaldi is intense. Think Malcolm toned down significantly, slightly disorientated and without the swearing, and you're close-ish to Peter's interpretation of The Doctor. You don't necessarily feel completely safe with him. He is going to save people, but there are plenty of moments when you're still not quite as certain...
This Doctor is much more unpredictable and less human than his immediate predecessors. And if you're remotely a fan of anything Peter Capaldi has done previously - The Thick Of It or anything else - you'll like what he's done here.


There you have it. I'm not going to spend time explaining why those who've been watching the series in the long-term, or devoted fans like myself, should watch it - I'd have thought that the fact that they will watch it goes without saying.

But what I hope I've done, is persuade some of you who were maybe on the fence, or weren't even considering watching Doctor Who this weekend, to give it a crack.

Because it's a launch of a new Doctor, because it's Peter Capaldi, because it's the first episode of Doctor Who's 51st year - who knows - they've made this first episode a bumper 75-minutes. Little bit longer than your average drama, shorter than your average film. After that, the next 11 weeks of the show's run will only be 45 minutes, as per usual.

Whether you watch it as it goes out - whether you want to make a trip of seeing Episode 1 in the cinema on Saturday - whether you Sky+ it or catch it on iPlayer, I hope you give this new series of Doctor Who a try - if nothing else just to try and work out what the hell I seem to like about it so much.

Any day now, he's-a-comin....


Saturday, 23rd August, 2014.

Take a Deep Breath, world.

The Doctor is in.

The clock is striking Twelve...

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