This story is a sort of sequel to The Girl In The Fireplace, though the concept of robots trying to make themselves human, like Cybermen in reverse, isn’t nearly as effective. The title is complete crap, it really should have had the word “Clockwork” in there somewhere, something like The Clockwork Man, which I like a lot better, especially since it’s an oblique nod to the difference between new Twelvy Capaldi and old Clock-y Half-Face. Or maybe, simplest of all, The Half-Face Man. The tone of the ep is a lot darker than we’ve been used to of late and I reckon that’s a good thing. Mayhaps with this The Moff is channeling his inner Hinchliffe, and it would be no bad thing for the future if he keeps that up…
I know I said Whoflix wouldn’t be back until Series Eight was over but I couldn’t stop myself from editing Deep Breath, an episode so flawed that I just couldn’t watch it without mentally noting all the bits that I would cut. So I cut them and here it is. The edit has been made from the TX version so once again the cuts are limited by Murray Gold’s music but when the DVD comes out I’ll tackle it again using the individual audio tracks. But this Edit gives you a good idea of what the story is like as a”normal” episode, and I think the show is all the better for it. See what you think. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and that’s not where we start. Let’s start at the beginning…
Monday the 7th of July 2014 will, for many of us, always be the date when the Capaldi Doctor made his debut. That, you will recall, was when the news broke that the scripts for the first five episodes of Series Eight had leaked online due to someone being a complete twat. And then, five days later, we learned that the workprint for episode one, Deep Breath, had also leaked. Nice one. Forevermore the name of Marcelo Camargo will be revered in Fandom, or at least certain sections of it. Personally, I have no problem with Spoilers at all as learning things about an episode in advance of transmission doesn’t spoil anything for me in the slightest. Being an actor and writer to trade, I suffer from an acute case of Backstage Pass Syndrome, and anything that gives you an insight into what it must be like to work on the show is fine by me, sneak peeks even more so.
I finally managed to track down the workprint on Saturday 12th July and so my first glimpse of the Yaldi Capaldi era came at 9.45pm that day and, just over and hour and a quarter later, I was more convinced than ever that Capaldi will be a great Doctor. As for being the GOAT Doctor, time will tell but he’s probably the most skilled actor to fill the role yet, with an honourable mention to Sir John of Hurt of course. As for the episode itself, it was okay but overlong I thought and would have worked a lot better at a standard length. The extra running time didn’t give us any extra story, just extended scenes that would otherwise have been cut and within minutes my Fan Editor hindbrain was already mentally totting up all the scenes that would need to go. And there were plenty of them.
The biggest single problem with the episode though is Vastra and Jenny and Moffat’s “subtle as a brick” approach to their relationship. Okay, so Moff may be totally down with the LGBT section of the audience but for the rest of us straights, who Moffat clearly believe need our alleged prejudices confronting on a Saturday night with the all the family around us, enough already. Yes, we get it, they’re Lesbians in a Gay Marriage and one of them is a Lizard yeah, yeah, yeah, yadda, yadda, yadda. Can you just get on with telling a decent story and leave the gender politics and social issues to Eastenders please? By all means have two characters who are lesbians, not a problem, but you don’t need to stop the story to have them remind us of the fact at every available opportunity.
The script is average but some of the dialogue is really cringeworthy and the whole thing could have done with one more draft to iron things out. But since that’s not an option, it’s down to the Fan Edit to do what it can to improve things and come up with a better, shorter, story than the full length version. Most of the cuts are prior to the restaurant scene but the biggest change is the removal of the whole “hold your breath” bit which just does not make sense.
Watching those scenes with Jenny, Vastra, Strax and Clara battling the `droids while Twelvy is busy knocking off the half-face man, you can easily work out why Moffat included the concept, and it wasn’t for narrative reasons. That’s worse than having the characters serve the story, that’s having the entire story constructed around one moment, no matter how ridiculous the central premise. It’s a pity Moffat chose to pursue his liberal agenda at the expense of narrative logic, but thankfully this Fan Edit is able to correct the worst of his mistakes and concentrate on telling the story instead.