Peter Capaldi has well and truly arrived as the Doctor.
If there was any question of whether the 12th actor to play the Doctor on television could pull it off after the first episode of Series 8 last week, Capaldi completely quells it this week.
In last week’s episode, Deep Breath, the Doctor was all over the place as he recovered from a particularly traumatic regeneration. But in the second episode of the series, Into the Dalek, he wears his twin alien hearts on his sleeve as he is forced to ask: “Clara, be a pal and tell me ‘am I a good man?'”
It’s a deep, dark, foreboding moment and you really don’t know how Clara is going to answer.
Coleman, preparing to travel to New Zealand for Armageddon, is superb in her response and it’s the highlight of the episode. Capaldi and Coleman are a much more interesting dynamic than Matt Smith and Coleman and I am on record as saying Smith is my favourite Doctor of all time.
But Capaldi is deeper, darker, and more unpredictable than Smith – at least in this episode. And he lacks empathy far more.
Doctor Who meets 1987 flick Inner Space as the Doctor, Clara and a handful of grunts are miniaturized to perform micro surgery on an injured Dalek. There’s little Doctor Who hasn’t done in its half a century, celebrated last November, and even this idea in Phil Ford and Steven Moffat’s script isn’t completely new. First Doctor companion Ian Chesterton once went roll about inside a Dalek Travel Machine in the first Dalek story The Mutants and First Doctor William Hartnell followed suit in The Space Museum. What is new is the way the Doctor and Clara are miniaturised.
So far this new series seems to have more in common with the 26 series of the original run, which ended in 1989 with seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy. It seems to have less in common with the seven series which re-launched the BBC franchise in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith.
Clara, we learn, is now working as a teacher at Coal Hill School in London, the same school where the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan courted suspicion in An Unearthly Child – the very first episode of Doctor Who in 1963. The same school where Chesterton and fellow companion Barbara Wright taught.
The only link to last week’s episode, Deep Breath, apart from the appearance of the Doctor and Clara aboard the TARDIS was the predictable appearance of the mysterious Missy in her own version of paradise. Who is she? Maybe the Time Lady Romana, not see on screen since fourth Doctor Tom Baker’s days. If it’s not her I’ll be kicking myself for missing the bleedingly obvious clues left by Moffat throughout the season. Still, it’s only episode two.
The only other link to the last seven series is the use of Murray Gold’s beautiful theme for Clara, The Impossible Girl.
So is the Doctor a good man, the conclusion to Into the Dalek leaves you wondering?
Next week Robin Hood, no doubt with a twist.