On August 23, a new series, usually known as a season, of “Doctor Who” premiered. The term “series” is used for the “Doctor Who” seasons from 2005 on to avoid confusing these seasons with the early seasons from 1963—89. At the end of last series, the time travelling Doctor (then played by Matt Smith) “regenerated,” or changed his appearance, allowing the Doctor to now be played by Peter Capaldi in what is known as the Doctor’s 12th regeneration. He would actually be the 13th regeneration, but this is due to a regeneration played by John Hurt being added in between the 8th regeneration, played by Paul McGann, and the 9th regeneration, played by Christopher Eccelston, in the 50th anniversary special that aired last year. On a historical note, the concept that the Doctor could “regenerate” was created when the original Doctor, William Hartnell, couldn’t continue in the role any more and the producers needed to figure out a way to continue the show without him.
It’s time to go back to the present decade: on August 23rd, 9.17 million British viewers tuned in to see how Peter Capaldi would fill the shoes of the twelve men who came before him.
In this episode, the amnesiac and confused Doctor (Capaldi), having just regenerated, his traveling companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) and their time machine (called the TARDIS or Time and Relative Dimension in Space) end up in Victorian London, accidentally taking a T-Rex along with them. The duo meet up with private detectives Madame Vastra, a lizard woman from the dawn of time, Jenny, her human wife, and Strax, a war focused alien soldier. They solve the mystery of why people in Victorian London (and eventually the T-Rex) appear to be spontaneously combusting. Without spoiling the ending entirely, the solution to the mystery is an excellent callback to a series two episode.
Capaldi’s Doctor is grumpy, Scottish and exceedingly likely to take unwarranted potshots at his companion. Even with that annoying habit (which may be a writer’s quirk) the 12th Doctor comes off as intelligent and funny due to the way that Capaldi fully inhabits the character. Peter Capaldi grew up loving Doctor Who, and it shows. In summary, I was a bit disappointed with the writing in this episode but I have hope for the show to improve in the future based on how well Capaldi did in this episode.