"Deep Breath" is the first episode of the eighth series of Doctor Who, and was first broadcast on August 23rd, 2014. As the season opener of the eighth series, it was also the full debut of Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, first seen in cameo in The Day of the Doctor and briefly introduced at the end of The Time of the Doctor. It also featured Jenna Louise-Coleman as companion Clara Oswald, and Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey as recurring characters Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.
For both the characters in the show, and for the audience, the regeneration of The Doctor into another incarnation is a much-anticipated, and somewhat anxious, moment. Inside of the story, the process of regeneration can often be difficult and lead the Doctor sick and disoriented, as in Castrovalva and The Christmas Invasion. And to the audience, there is always a bit of fear that the actor chosen to portray the Doctor will fall short of expectations. Although Peter Capaldi was highly anticipated, and had literally been dreaming of the part for forty years, there was much discussion amongst the fanbase about what direction he would take the role.
The story opens with a dinosaur running through Victorian London, a dinosaur that coughs up The TARDIS, with the confused Doctor stumbling out of it into the arms of Madame Vastra and company. At the home of Madam Vastra, he rests and tries to regain his memory, and to come to terms with his relationship with Clara. All of which is interrupted by a mystery, as the Doctor and Clara go to a restaurant run by some robots with a very sinister agenda. While the plot is interesting, it is really only a way to showcase the direction the series is going. Peter Capaldi is certainly different from Matt Smith, but I, and most of the show's fans, were very satisfied by the new direction of the show.
One thing that struck me with this episode, is how much the revival of Doctor Who has changed since its debut in 2005, almost a decade ago. This is especially noticeable to me because since I have started watching the revival, I have caught up on classic Doctor Who. Most Doctor Who fans would say that the first two Doctors, in the 1960s, felt radically different than the third and fourth Doctors, in the 1970s. There has not been a single defining moment of the Revival where we can say it has changed directions drastically (such as, for example, the change to color production and the Doctor's exile to earth at the beginning of The Third Doctor's tenure). And yet, watching this episode, I realized that almost every part of the show, from the pacing and cinematography to the production team and audience, has changed since it first came back in 2005. And it could be that this season will in some way mark a clear break, and that this episode, like the Third Doctor's debut "Spearhead from Space", will be remembered as a turning point in the show's history.