Steven Moffat

Steven Moffat's 'Doctor Who' premiere reactions

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Aug 22, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT (Updated)

(Beware, good reader, herein there be major spoilers about the Doctor Who season-eight premiere the likes of which would make River Song wince.)

... Still with us? Fantastic!

So, the Doctor is back, and not only does he have a new face, but he has a new accent and a new mission to fix previous mistakes in all his time lordin’. 

But, of course, before he was ready to set out with Clara (Jenna Coleman) and a clear mind, the new Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) had to deal with a little regeneration madness and then face off against clockwork androids, who we remember from the 2006 David Tennant-era episode “The Girl in the Fireplace” (written by current showrunner Steven Moffat). And, for her part, before she is quite convinced to see past the new, older face he’s wearing, Clara needs a little motivation from the Paternoster Gang and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith in a heartwrenching cameo phone call -- a spoiler leaked ages ago that has proven correct.

Blastr and a small group of press had the opportunity to chat with Capaldi, Coleman and Moffat about the new season last week following a screening of the premiere episode, “Deep Breath.” But here are a few additional thoughts from the showrunner about this episode in particular:

“The Girl in the Fireplace” is obviously a fan favorite from before your run started. How long ago did you decide to sort of touch back on that thread, and what was the decision-making in that?

Steven Moffat: I wanted a quite simple menace for the first episode. I didn’t want it to be wildly complicated, as it were, because obviously the grandstanding at the center of it is a new Doctor and a new relationship with a companion, so you really just want the villains to be lurching around offing people now and then with quite a simple backstory, but I also just quite liked the idea. I think I actually stole this joke from Columbo that the Doctor’s completely forgotten a previous adventure. Because you would. You just would. I remember there’s a lovely moment in one of the Columbos where somebody -- one of the later ones where somebody is recounting one of his previous cases, and Columbo just says, “I'm sorry, I’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” [laughter] Because you would! He’s 2000 years old, he’s forgotten the whole thing. Just that, just that. He forgot one of my episodes, so I'm very cross with him!

You obviously made a reference to Peter Capaldi’s earlier appearance [in Doctor Who and Torchwood] in this episode by mentioning the face and trying to figure out where he got that face. Is that the only nod you’re going to make, or will that question be answered?

Moffat: Well, it’s pretty vague in the episode. He could just be thinking of the thick of it, I suppose, couldn’t he? [laughter] But it’s -- whatever we do with that, you know, which I'm not going tell you, is it’s subtle. We’re not doing a great big number on it, because frankly the reason the Doctor looks like another character in Doctor Who is because he’s played by the same actor and everybody knows that. If you go down that path I’ll be explaining why John Watson looks like Bilbo. It’s just -- you can't do that. [laughter] 

Can you talk a little bit about extending the themes of transformation, appearance [of the Doctor] to the cyborg storyline? 

Moffat: When you say cyborg to me, I just get confused. [laughter] ... Yes. I suppose that’s why I chose those monsters, because they’ve replaced themselves continually and the Doctor is faced with the fact that he has to and he doesn’t even know where he got his face from. ... I know it seems preposterous in a way that you’re obliged to sit in a room and think seriously, what would it be like if you were Matt Smith one moment and Peter Capaldi the next, what would that be like? It’s not a general life experience. It’s not something that’s ever happened to me, for instance. But you have to take it seriously and you have to sort of think, it must be frightening. And it must be frightening when you look at your best friend in the whole world, because that’s where I put that line in about seeing. You look at your best friend in the whole world, the person on whom you are anchored, and they don't see you. They literally look at you and look right through you and they see something else. And you still feel the same. You’re looking this way. You feel a bit different. But if someone’s looking back and not seeing you, how frightening that must be. Not to have your only basic irremovable right, the right to be yourself. The Doctor periodically has that removed from him. Usually to an unsuccessful -- because of an unsuccessful ... wage negotiation, but, you know -- [laughter] not really actually. Not at all. Can I just say, that was not the case.  We couldn’t resist the gag because I'm trivial. [laughter]

What did you think of Peter Capaldi's first foray? Let us know in the comments, or sound off at us on Twitter at @syfywire!