Doctor Who: Deep Breath DVD Review: You Don’t Need to Hold Your Breath to Bring the 12th Doctor Home

Written by Derek Stucker

The new Doctor has arrived…on DVD and Blu-ray! Doctor Who: Deep Breath sees actor Peter Capaldi stepping into the role of The Doctor for his first full-length episode (having made brief appearances in episodes The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor). Wasting little time, the BBC has already produced a DVD and Blu-ray of the episode for those who, like me, can’t watch the BBC or BBC America, giving us our first real look at the new 12th Doctor.

Having just regenerated, the Doctor finds himself having trouble remembering important information, like the identity of his friends and companion or even how to fly his TARDIS. The latter issue allows for The Doctor to accidentally transport a giant dinosaur to Victorian London. But a frightened, rampaging dinosaur in the Thames pales in comparison to the far more sinister threat The Doctor and Clara encounter in “Deep Breath,” one involving robots, spontaneous combustion, and a “family restaurant” that isn’t what it seems.

As the mystery unfolds, Clara is forced to deal with her unease about this new incarnation of the Doctor, as indeed the audience must as well. Recalling the problems Rose had trusting the newly regenerated 10th Doctor, Clara immediately insists that this is not the same man with whom she has been traveling. It’ll take Madame Vastra’s guidance and the Doctor starting to act like himself again to win her trust. But “Deep Breath” also asks the question: just how different is this new Doctor? An unanswered mystery at the end of the episode suggests that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor may sport a substantial difference from the Doctor that Clara, and the audience, once knew.

Recalling Rose’s distrust of the 10th Doctor is not the only reference made to David Tennant’s run as the Doctor. Several other episodes are substantially referenced, including one that featured Peter Capaldi in a different role. In “The Fires of Pompeii,” Peter Capaldi played a character named Caecilius, the father of a Pompeii household who was ultimately rescued by the Doctor and ended up coining the word “volcano.” In “Deep Breath,” Capaldi’s doctor references the episode by saying that he’s sure he’s seen his new face before and opens up the idea that perhaps all of the Doctor’s regenerations have been in the image of someone he’d met before (an idea led credence to by the fact that Colin Baker, who later went on to play the Sixth Doctor, originally played a different character in the Fifth Doctor’s episode “Arc of Infinity”).

Extras on the Doctor Who: Deep Breath DVD/Blu-ray include a “Prequel Scene” in which Strax summarizes all the previous Doctor’s personas as only a Sontaran would, a “Behind the Scenes” look at the making of the episode, and a half-hour ratings grab called “Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor” in which an annoying host strings viewers along with 24 minutes of filler before finally introducing Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor. The only extra on the DVD that is actually worth watching is “The Real History of Science Fiction: Time,” an interesting documentary that looks at the evolution of time-travel stories, focusing not only Doctor Who, but The Time Machine, Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Twelve Monkeys, Metropolis, Looper, and more, highlighting what each introduced or popularized in the time travel sci-fi genre.

If you watched “Deep Breath” on television or on a movie screen and loved it, or if you missed it and are in a hurry to view Peter Capaldi’s introductory storyline as the Doctor, you might want to consider the DVD/Blu-ray of Doctor Who: Deep Breath. The Twelveth Doctor has arrived and, thanks to this DVD and Blu-ray release, is already making house calls.

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