Been a while. Hello everyone. Spoilers are minimal but they are there. Onwards.
1. Oooh Weee Oooh!
Lots of cogs to set off the Victorianness of the first episode and beat for beat, composition by composition, taken from the fan film we talked about last month. But the theme tune… its has lost the orchestra, replaced by a theramin, perhaps? Quite a jump from the last series, so obviously no one will like it. But give it time…
2. A Very Victorian Doctor Who.
It's not just the setting, but the obsession. The discovery and display of dinosaurs was a rather big thing in this time. As were the display of automatons. It was a time of wonder, and newness and change – and disfigurement caused by the industrial revolution. Gay marriage between women as well was not unheard of either. The Doctor's world and those of his friends simply fits in here. A terribly modern time, over a hundred years ago.
3. Every Planet's Got A Scotland
So, yes, the Scottish question. The accent Sylvester McCoy was unable to use, and David Tennant chose not to. He may be our twelfth or thirteenth Doctor, but he's the third Scot! And there is, for the first time a rejection of the English here, an affront to that accent over and above the Doctor's newfound voice. And, yes, some definite Scottish referendum references here, referring to his eyebrows as seceding from the rest of his face and setting up "an independent state of eyebrows" and how Scottishness makes him liable to complain things. Add to that a final appearance in Glasgow, where he is repeatedly told that he doesn't get a vote. Well of course not, he's an alien….
4. We've Been Here Before
A totally new Doctor is covered in what we do know. The three detectives, Vastra, Jenny and Drax reunited with Clara. The Clockwork robots from The Girl In The Fireplace, in a new era, we are meant to know and be unnerved that the Doctor never quite gets it. But there's more. The mention of people being kept alive in a larder "cheaper than freezing us" reminds us of "life is just nature's way of keeping meet fresh" from The Doctor Dances – a line Moffat had previously used in Joking Apart as well. The "holding your breath" aspect reminded me very much of "don't blink" from, well, Blink. We get a "I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry" from Clara as well as the "You've redecorated. I don't like it" and a final "Geronimo". And didn't that Glasgow scene, mentioning going for chips take you right back to Rose's "I can smell chips. I want chips" from the end of The End Of The World all of nine years ago? And that final phone call, as Bleeding Cooled at at early date, solidly placing this oh-so different Doctor in our minds as THE Doctor.
Which is handy because this Doctor is scary. He's raw. He's different. The last one was different but at least he was friendly. The new Doctor is old and grey. And the brightness of the previous Doctor, reflected in the world or worlds around him is replaced here. Everything else is grey or monochrome with the smog, the music is both more muted and more onerous, this is a harsher, harder, gravelly world and no wonder Clara is so thrown. It's all the audience can to to hang on. Which is why we get given all those previously mentioned handholds. Deep breath. And jump.
6. Look, He Never Managed It With Australia
As The Doctor does his Chim Chimmeny Chim Chimmeny run across the rooftops of London, talking to the dinosaur, he promises to take her home. Was I the only one who flashed onto Tegan, and the Doctor's inability to even get her back to Australia? How does he reckon he'll manage with a Tyrannosaurus Rex back to the Cretaceous period?
7. Up, Up And Wahey!
So a hot air balloon began to give me the idea we might get a reprise of Up. But those balloons were of plastic, not of skin. Si Spurrier,
who does not like Doctor Who so I have no idea why he was watching, wanted to chip in here I think.
@richjohnston Thought #1: HOT AIR BOLLOCK
— Si Spurrier (@sispurrier) August 23, 2014
Indeed. I'm not actually sure that human skin would have been the best material to build a hot air balloon out of, especially since, in Victorian times, they actually already had hot air balloons. If they can afford a restaurant, they can afford a dirigible!
8. Does The Doctor Kill?
No, unless he does. He has in the past, has come close to a number of times, and may do again. But what about this Doctor? Even as we struggle to know him, the show gives us more that we don't know about. The first episodes if the show in the sixties gave us a Doctor willing to kill a member of his party who was slowing them down. Here, he abandons Clara, hoping, willing her survival. And giving us the audience, a massive unknowable factor about this new Doctor, and what he will do will not do. He doesn't carry a gun but he has other weapons at his disposal.
9. Like A Tea Tray In The Sky
There is a lot of reflection in this episode. From, possibly the best line about not looking in the mirror because it is furious, that is more than just his frowny face, the mirror reveals himself to himself and that is where there is anger. And so mirrors for the Doctor, and the reflective silver tea tray returns as well, carried by Strax, and used on the cyborg. Reflection here is a weapon, one that he uses on himself as well as on others.
10. Another Scot In Paradise
The appearance of Michelle Gomez as Missy – or according to the BBC – Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, will cause much commotion. Another Scot, obsessed with the Doctor and likely the cause of much mischief to come. Did she place the ad, work in the phone shop? It seems likely. Why do I think she might be in a version of the digital paradise from the 51st century where River Song's mental remains reside? And is that why the automaton is there? And is her garden a bit shaped like a TARDIS console?
11. Positive Lizbian Relationships Onscreen
So yes, this is probably a first for the show.
But this is always a useful link to check for matters such as these. No mentions of the lizard aspect however.
12. I Never Forget A Face.
Oh and this is probably worth pointing out too.
The man playing the "tramp" who the Doctor "bought" his smelly coat from? That's Brian Miller, the husband of the late, great, Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith.
So… what thoughts did you have?