NOTE: THERE IS AN UPDATED ADDENDUM AT THE END OF THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT REVIEW. I WROTE IT AFTER WATCHING THE ACTUAL LEAKED VIDEO OF THE EPISODE IN ITS ENTIRETY.
This contains no real spoilers, River Song!
I thought long and hard before writing this review. I knew that it would elicit plenty of criticism from fellow Whovians everywhere. I mean, how dare I review a leaked script?! What gull! Moffat would have a conniption fit. Well, he's never heard of little me, so there's no chance he will ever read this.
As a writer, I asked myself three important questions: (1) Is it legal and does it violate any copyright law? I was sent the leaked scripts by a friend. I certainly didn’t leak them myself, and I didn't even download them from one of the many nefarious sites online. (2) Is it ethical? I think it is because I am only reviewing the written word, NOT the actual finished product, nor the actors, nor the production team. (3) Why even do it? Because I could not help myself from reading the script. I have things to say about it without spoilers; and as a "Doctor Who" fan, I think I would be interested in reading about it.
I see it like reading a novel before the movie version comes out. It doesn't spoil the movie for me. Just the opposite; it makes me look forward to seeing how they pull it off.
So here it goes. When you send your hate emails, please be kind.
Let me start by saying that even though I think Steven Moffat has written brilliant episodes, I believe that the Russell T. Davies years were the best. Just my opinion.
The scale and scope of "Deep Breath" is super colossal—of Jurassic proportions…literally. I know the exceptionally talented production crew and special effects team will do wonders with this ambitious material.
This is an incredibly funny script. Not just witty, but downright sidesplitting hilarious. In my mind's eye I could picture the wonderful Peter Capaldi delivering this dialogue as The Doctor. And it felt right.
I'm not giving away anything by saying that right after regeneration, The Doctor is not quite "all there." Doctor Ten slept through most of his first episode, and Doctor Eleven was scarfing down fish sticks and custard at the beginning of his debut. Now multiply that by one hundred, and you can imagine what this Doctor's post regeneration-syndrome is like. I have seen Capadi do comedy before, so I know that he will make an already funny script even funnier.
As for the main story, I found it almost secondary and a bit trite. Yes, it has a great new villain and favorite old friends as well. However, I found the plotline a tad contrived. The episode is really about Clara and how she deals with The Doctor's transformation. And that alone is worth the price of admission.
We all know that Clara's relationship with The Doctor will change. This Doctor looks old enough to be her father, so that was inevitable. It would be downright creepy if there were still romantic overtones in their relationship. Moffat handles the subject matter in a genuine and blunt manner, using a favorite brusque reptilian to set Clara straight.
The pace of the story is good. It moves right along without a lot of needless exposition.
The ending is heart-stopping and will keep you on the edge of your seats.
The last scene of the episode hints at introducing a story arc that will run throughout the entire series eight, like Bad Wolf and the crack that started in young Amelia Pond's wall. I've only read to the middle of episode two, so I have no idea what will happen with that. But it looks intriguing, to say the least.
In all, as a diehard Whovian I am relieved that the script is as good as it is. Moffat has been known to write a few duds in his time. One is always apprehensive at the prospect of a new Doctor. As written, Doctor Twelve is a throwback to the classic Doctors—and that's refreshing in a way. Series eight looks to be both different and familiar at the same time. With Capaldi flying the tardis, it certainly won't be boring.
(One last trivial thing, I was surprised and amused at how atrocious the spelling and typos in the scripts were. Somebody send a proof-reader to Cardiff ASAP.)
PLEASE DO NOT WRITE ASKING ME TO SEND YOU THE SCRIPTS OR LINKS TO THEM. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
ADDENDUM — July 13, 2014
Again, I couldn't help myself and I watched the actual leaked video of "Deep Breath." (Yeah, I have a problem with instant gratification.) Some have erroneously described it as the "unedited" leaked video. It IS edited; however, some of the special effects have not been added yet. Also, it is in black & white with watermarks all over the place.
After seeing what they did with the material, I stand by my review of the script. The only thing I changed my mind about is the main story. It actually works better on film than on paper. You can thank brilliant acting by the cast for that. Speaking of brilliant acting, Miss Jenna Coleman delivers her best performance to date as Clara Oswald. This episode demands a lot from her as an actress, and she delivers in spades. We see sides of Clara that we have never before seen. I like Clara more now, and I think you will too. Well done, Jenna.