Critics hail Peter Capaldi's Doctor Who debut

Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who Capaldi, best known for his role in The Thick of It, is the 12th Time Lord

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Critics have hailed Peter Capaldi's feature-length debut as the 12th Doctor, as the eighth series of Doctor Who premiered on BBC One on Saturday.

The Telegraph's Michael Hogan said the Scots actor "crackled with fierce intelligence and nervous energy".

Euan Ferguson, in the Guardian, called his performance "wise and thoughtful", though decried the plot as "demented".

At its peak the programme was watched by 7.3 million people, according to official viewing figures.

The BBC said it was the most watched opening episode of a Doctor Who series since 2010.

'Impeccable debut'

Richard Beech, in the Mirror, agreed Capaldi had "all the hallmarks of a great Doctor".

He called the 80-minute opening episode, entitled Deep Breath, "an impeccable debut".

"If you watched Deep Breath and you don't want to watch the rest of series 8, then there truly is something wrong with you," he wrote.

However fans of the series appeared less convinced.

(Spoiler alert: Key plot details revealed below)

Neve McIntosh as Madame Vastra Deep Breath stars Neve McIntosh as lizard detective Madame Vastra

The show received a mixed reception on Twitter, with some viewers deeming 56-year-old Capaldi "brilliant" and "amazing", while others describing the episode as "middle of the road" and "gimmicky".

"More depth and much better with an older actor. It's 1973 all over again and that's no bad thing," tweeted one fan.

"Overall I think Capaldi is going to be good, but the episode wasn't great. Pretty much what I have come to expect from Moffat," tweeted another, who landed the blame squarely with Doctor Who show-runner and Sherlock writer Steven Moffat, who penned the episode.

Dan Starkey as Strax The reappearance of the Sontaran butler Strax also delighted followers of the show

"You cannot tell me that this was badly written. This is the best episode that Moffat has ever made. I hope it stays this great," argued another.

"Seriously disappointed with Doctor Who. Bored, angry, frustrated, irritated, offended and let down. Wow."

The surprise reappearance of Capaldi's predecessor, Matt Smith - in the closing moments of the show - was greeted with joy by many fans, though the Mirror's critic called Smith's phone call from the future "divisive".

"For some, it will have been a genuine treat to see Matt Smith as the Doctor for one last time - but many didn't need the closure, and didn't need telling to get behind a man they already firmly believe in."

Moffat has described it as "the fastest return ever on Doctor Who!".

"It just felt utterly right for what we were planning for Peter's Doctor, and right for Matt's Doctor, that he would think of that as he was just about to go out the door." he told Digital Spy.

The critics were united in their praise for Jenna Coleman, returning as the Doctor's sidekick Clara Oswald.

Her character drove much of the action in what many saw as a "wayward" storyline, opening with a dinosaur stranded in Victorian London, and encompassing spontaneous combustion and robots harvesting human remains.

"The plot runs secondary to the emotional throughline here," wrote US critic Geoff Berkshire in Variety.

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman The eighth series will include guest appearances from Frank Skinner, Keeley Hawes and Sanjeev Bhaskar, among others

But he added: "What Capaldi lacks in youthful energy, he more than makes up for in gravitas and wry eccentricity, whether marvelling at his 'independently cross" eyebrows or gleefully embracing his Scottish accent as a license to complain."

"Behind his furrowed brow and tendency to complain, roil new and exciting storms, which may tilt the tale away from love and longing and back to adventure," echoed Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara.

"Either way, this Doctor is truly something else again."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    I thought it was a good start but have never felt that Jenna Coleman really was a strong enough character for the Doctors companion. My main gripe is stop messing about with opening theme! The theme sounded too pop orientated and the menace of the last theme has disappeared. Peter Capaldi will be a great Doctor and bring some gravitas to the role.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    Capaldi and Coleman were great. Secondary characters were good as we expected them to be. The script was fizzing and fun but the story was so-so and a bit wayward, Dr Who needs to inject more fantastical elements and originality. Getting darker and having more gravitas is a good approach but the new theme music is awful and doesn't reflect Capaldi's new Doctor at all.

    Overall 6/10.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    Oh dear... Having waited so long for the return of Doctor Who what a let down.
    Peter Capaldi was as expected. Very reminiscent of William Hartnell.
    Steven Moffat I'm afraid has dropped the ball on this story. Very boring.
    The interjection of Dinosaurs, Clockwork Beings, Lesbianism, etc, old hat helped the boredom. Get back to, "Hiding behind the couch" creations and stories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    Excellent episode, great acting, glad to see that Jenna finally got a script to suit her talents
    And for those who like to slag off the great scripts from Steve Moffett I give the rubbish that we used to get from Russell T Davis.
    I am looking forward to this series after the slightly disappointing previous series where I think too much focus was on the 50th anniversary special
    Great episode

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    I think Capaldi will be good. Good actor and good first performance. Not sure about the plot though. I like the Doctors who have brought a bit of dark gravitas. William Hartnell was superb, as was Christopher Eccleston.David Tennant wasn't half bad. Some Drs in the past have been silly and the show suffered for it. Capaldi could be a good 'un.


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