Late in August, I put the new Doctor Who on the strictest probation. One week later I gladly re-welcomed the time-traveling Doctor into my living room. I feel silly now, but the BBC science-fiction franchise’s first series eight episode, titled “Deep Breath,” was a total clunker. Given the series’ sudden improvement for episode two and its even stronger showing for episode three, I wonder if showrunner Steven Moffat was off his game for the first episode — or even intentionally lowering fans’ expectations.
Now I see that Doctor Who is going deeper. Behind each of series eight’s first three episodes — even the choppy, lackluster “Deep Breath” — seems to lie probing questions about not only the very identity of the Doctor himself but the whole concept of Doctor Who. If I’m right, Doctor Who‘s eighth series is going meta. Somewhere at the BBC may lie a revised copy of the series bible in which Moffat outlines the new season’s big idea: To challenge the series’ nature. And so far, each story has asked big questions of itself and explored possible answers. The Doctor acts like his “doctorate” isn’t of medicine. He’s a Doctor of philosophy.