It’s easy to get insulated in our own little worlds, where the things that seem like a big deal to us don’t necessarily translate to a wider audience. Often times we get really excited about a movie, TV show, book, comic, whatever, but it doesn’t perform well on the open market, so it’s always rather gratifying when one does. That way we can be like, “see, we were right, that was totally awesome,” and make ourselves feel good about the life choices we’ve made. Our latest opportunity to lord something over the non sci-fi believers out there is season 8 of Doctor Who, which, over the weekend, delivered its biggest season premiere ever.
When your show is popular enough to have been on the air for 50 years, you know that having the highest rated debut ever is something to crow about, and the BBC is crowing indeed. Not only did this latest episode, “Deep Breath,” kick off a new era for the venerable sci-fi adventure, properly introducing Peter Capaldi as the 12th Time Lord, but it also kicked his reign off in style.
This wasn’t only the highest rated season premiere in franchise history, it was the biggest Saturday ratings that BBC American has ever had. “Deep Breath” clocked in as the number one ranked show on all of cable during its run time, and the network topped the cable ranks as well, and Doctor Who “was the #1 show in all of television on Twitter and Tumblr for the day.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, exactly, but it sure doe sound impressive, right?
We were curious to see how audiences would respond to Capaldi, but the new guy doesn’t appear to have dampened enthusiasm one bit. The series goes from being fronted by the youngest person to ever take over the role (Matt Smith) to one of the oldest (Capalidi is tied for being the oldest Doctor ever). Cards on the table, I haven’t had the chance to watch “Deep Breath” yet, but the changes are obvious even from the outside.
Smith’s performance has been described as a human cartoon, and his predecessor, David Tennant, was similarly lighthearted in comparison to what Capaldi brings to the table. Since the day he was cast we’ve heard talk about how this is going to be a much darker version, and how the show is going to take a turn into the shadows. They even hired Ben Wheatley, a filmmaker very much known for his darkness, to direct the first two episodes.
Perhaps this change is even part of the reason that the premiere delivered such big numbers, it’s entirely possible that fans were looking for a new direction. We’ll have to wait until next week to see if this trend continues (just because people were interested enough to see this new Doctor doesn’t mean they liked it or that they’ll tune in again), but that’s not a bad way for a Time Lord to begin his rule.
Check out this preview for next week’s episode, “Into the Dalek.”