DOCTOR WHO: From Script To Screen - DEEP BREATH - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO: From Script To Screen - DEEP BREATH

Did you give in to temptation and read the script in advance? Was there anything left to be surprised by? Andrew Jero takes a look at Deep Breath, from script to screen.

Having seen Peter Capaldi’s debut, Deep Breath, five or six times now - including once on the big screen - I have to say I have never loved a Doctor (aside from my first) quite so much from their opening scene.

Peter Capaldi is the ultimate Doctor Who fan (this pains me a great deal to admit that it’s not me!). He watched the show from The Dalek Invasion of Earth and has been hooked ever since. When asked what his favorite monster was in Mexico City he replied, “The Chumblies.” The audience was completely silent. “Call yourselves Doctor Who fans…” Capaldi replied cheekily. We have someone flying the TARDIS who knows everything about the show, and it benefits his performance tremendously. He’s experienced first hand as a fan, knows what works with a new Doctor and what doesn’t work. He nails it, immediately.

If you look at the script and examine his first scene, it could’ve been god awful, it could’ve been terrible, but it is the performance that makes it easily one of the best debut episodes ever. With the script you don’t get to hear the emphasis that is placed on words, the pauses in dialogue, any of that. The script is the groundwork, but it is the acting that makes or breaks that script - anyone who’s seen a high school production of Shakespeare knows what I mean!

For me, having watched the entire run of The Thick Of It several times, I know Peter’s speech patterns and his mannerisms very well. I was able to hear his voice while I read the script and that helped a lot of the humor in the story come off of the page. But when I initially read through those pages the first time I was bored by the restaurant scene, yet in the episode it is without a doubt one of the best parts in the story, with possibly the best exchange between Capaldi and Coleman...

Clara, what is happening right now, in this restaurant, to you and me, is more important than your egomania.

Nothing is more important than my egomania!!

... Right, you actually said that.

Capaldi and Coleman have the perfect Doctor/Companion relationship, and this script sets it up brilliantly. I believe that this is, by far, the best script written for the show since 1989, in fact it doesn’t feel like New-Who to me. I am not a big fan of most of what’s gone on TV for Doctor Who since 2005. I thought Eccleston, Tennant and Smith were some of the worst Doctors ever and until Deep Breath, I haven’t even considered the notion that a Doctor could be better than McGann, or Pertwee, (both of which I love) but Capaldi is brilliant and the show feels like Doctor Who again.

Monday night I went and saw Deep Breath in the movie theater and enjoyed it on the big screen. I think one of the reasons that the BBC decided to put it into theaters is because the pacing is spot on, there’s not a second wasted. The whole story feels strong enough, and uses up the time slot it had so perfectly, that it was a no brainer to show it in theaters. .

I wasn’t a big fan of Clara in this story and felt that the Doctor should’ve just left her. Why spend the time trying to convince someone that you are you, no matter what you look like, no matter what your personality is, when they won’t accept you?

The problem with just reading the script in advance is that it doesn’t feel quite right until you see how it’s done on screen. There was one spot in particular where I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it - Matt Smith's cameo. Initially, I thought that Matt appearing in the episode was a mistake, but when watching the scene play out it really gave Eleven and Clara a proper chance to say goodbye.

I think that judging the script alone Deep Breath still works but only gets a seven and a half out of ten. But viewing the completed episode on screen it bumps itself up to nine and a half out of ten. I’ll end this review with an excerpt from the script that is, in my opinion, one of the best speeches made by the Doctor in the whole of the fifty year run.

He asked you a question. Will you help me?

You shouldn't have been listening.

I wasn't! I didn't need to! That was me talking!

On Clara. That thought impacting. That strange thought!

THE DOCTOR (cont'd)
You can't see me, can you? You look at me, and you can't see me. Have you any idea what that's like? I'm not on the phone, I'm right here. Standing in front of you. Please, just...see me!

Andrew Jero lives in Iowa and has a very strong love of both Red Dwarf and Doctor Who. He enjoys acting and writing plays, television scripts, and short stories. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

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