Episode 1: “Deep Breath”
When the Doctor arrives in Victorian London, he finds a dinosaur rampant in the Thames and a spate of deadly spontaneous combustions. Who is the new Doctor and will Clara’s friendship survive as they embark on a terrifying mission into the heart of an alien conspiracy?
Pair It With: “The Christmas Invasion”
In tonight’s season premiere, the Doctor has regenerated, leaving Clara (Jenna Coleman) confronted with the reality that the man she knew so well has been replaced by a stranger…who is still, somehow, the same guy. Even though he’s totally different. It’s a situation many of the Doctor’s companions have confronted over the years, but it’s easy to forget that Clara is only the second companion to find herself in this predicament since the show’s resurrection in 2006. In the first-season finale, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) watches as her Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, takes on the face of David Tennant. Her shock and confusion plays out in the subsequent Christmas special, with Rose trying to come to terms with the nature of time lord biology in the midst of an alien invasion of Earth.
Thankfully the Smith/Capaldi regeneration doesn’t leave the Doctor comatose, unfortunately Clara’s confusion and emotional turmoil is unfolding in the midst of an adventure that could get her killed…with a new Doctor she’s not entirely sure she can trust. Rose’s arc in Tennant’s first full episode parallels Clara’s in “Deep Breath” rather nicely, and “The Christmas Invasion” also hinted at the darkness that would coexist with the whimsy in Tennant’s Doctor. Given that Capaldi’s Doctor is looking to be very dark indeed, “The Christmas Invasion” should make a perfect double-feature leading into tonight’s season premiere.