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I really enjoyed that. Peter Capaldi made an excellent debut as a Doctor who's working out who he is throughout the episode; that could have been immensely tedious but a combination of good writing and good acting meant it wasn't. Jenna Coleman made a great job of portraying Clara coming to terms with a Doctor who'd not only changed appearance, but at the start no longer seemed to know who who any of the people around him were. The Paternoster Gang were, I felt, written with a bit more depth than usual, and it was nice to see Jenny and Vastra's relationship affirmed several times.

Other thoughts:

Giant Dinosaurs: that was a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex. Fossil evidence for them suggests that they stood around 6 metres tall, with a head around 1.5 metres long. This lady was ... bigger than that. In the long shot, where the Doctor watches it across the rooftops, she's about the height of the clock tower containing Big Ben, which stands 96 metres above the embankment, and bear in mind that the T-Rex was standing below this in the river. She also nearly swallows the Tardis, which is around 3 metres by 1.5 metres square, and so bigger than a T-Rex's skull should be. This T-Rex is therefore apparently over ten times the size that we thought they were. Jenny and Vastra refer to this, of course; with Vastra (quite fairly) claiming actual lived experience as an eyewitness. Nonetheless, this seems larger than could be explained just by missing fossil records, a T-Rex that size should have trouble standing up without breaking her bones.

The Doctor's got old: well, yes, perhaps, but he was old before he regenerated. Really old. He'd just spent hundreds of years on Trenzalore defending Christmas, and was visually ancient and frail before he regenerated, and Clara saw him like this. She wasn't with him throughout the siege of Trenzalore, and so most of her memory of him would have been younger, and I accept that she may have been expecting him to regenerate back to his earlier state, but the fact remains that he did get younger than he was. I'd have liked a bit more acknowledgment of this, ideally.

The phone call: made emotional sense, but I'm not sure it made logical sense. He's on Trenzalore when he makes it, but young, so he's still centuries away from the regeneration the he claims to know is coming. And why does he know it's coming? Until the last moments, that Doctor thinks he's used up all his regenerations. He's not expecting there to be a next one to tell Clara about. (Or has he blanked memory of the War Doctor to that extent?) Edit: Will Howells and [ profile] miss_s_b point out that he probably makes the phone call at the end of The Time Of The Doctor, when the Time Lords' energy has temporarily made him young again, and he knows he's about to regenerate. So I withdraw the objection. The scene of Clara replacing the phone handset may even be taken from at the end of The Time Of The Doctor; it's what Steven Moffat would usually do, and I'd need to go back and check. It rings a bell.

Different points of view: there were a couple of small moments that were (I think) designed to get the viewer thinking from a non-normative point of view. The Doctor hears Jenny's cockney accent and Clara's Lancashire one as the same and 'English', and hears Scottish as normal and default. Vastra's use of the veil, not as a convenience for the outside world but as a judgement upon it, is again seeing the world from the point of view of those society rejects or pities, and Vastra is a moral authority character here; the viewer is supposed to judge society rather than pity Vastra at this point. And the Doctor forgets the word 'cold' for a moment and uses 'bitey' instead. Why? Because he's just been listening to and translating for the T-Rex, which says that the air 'bites' because (in my headcanon at least) the T-Rex comes from a warm Cretaceous world where the air is never cold, and is having to express her experience of the Victorian night air in terms she has concepts for.

Going for coffee: in Glasgow, apparently. Three of Glasgow's surviving police boxes have at times been coffee stalls (although I believe that currently none are); is it too much to hope they went to one of those?
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July 2015


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