Peter Capaldi has made the transformation into The Doctor, but he wasn't fully accepted without some help from himself - in the form of the 11th Doctor Matt Smith in a surprise (and moving) cameo.
There was a new, sleek opening sequence and The Doctor redecorated with a lot of round things. He apparently likes round things. You have to admit they move faster than square things.
Honestly, Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 1 wasn't a good episode. It was far too long and perhaps a bit lost. It did, however, achieve the most important job of a newly regenerated Doctor by appealing to our emotions and accepting the change with open arms.
There were many shout outs to the history of the series, including the storyline -- eliciting memories of The Girl In The Fireplace with David Tennant as the 10th Doctor -- and a moment when The Doctor wished Clara were more like Amy.
Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax were called upon to do a lot of the heavy lifting -- including Vastra's determination to get Clara to see through the veil, so to speak, and appreciate he is the same man inside.
Frankly, it felt like a little too much emphasis was placed on whether or not Capaldi could pick up the baton and run with it after it was nestled so successfully in Matt Smith's hands. Capaldi is a capable and warm character as The Doctor, not cold as I was expecting. He's not darker as of yet, but certainly almost let down by the appearance he generated into.
But, by the time The Doctor called Clara from Trenzalore pre-regeneration, I had already accepted Capaldi and found him quite capable. He is funny...
These are attack eyebrows! You can take bottle tops off with these!The Doctor
...and engaging, as well as emotional. It's not a coincidence that the nemesis this week was wearing the skin and other parts of people in its attempt to be human as The Doctor was wearing new skin as well. In all, though, The Doctor probably had less screen time than any of the other characters.
When The Doctor made his speech about being alive for 2,000 years and doing so many wrongs that it was now time to right, he was stating his new purpose.
The Doctor: Clara, I'm not your boyfriend.
Clara: I never thought you were.
The Doctor: I never said it was your mistake.
From what I understand Whovians the world around loved that The Doctor told Clara that he wasn't her boyfriend, but they perhaps didn't listen long enough to understand that he had felt as much and now realizes that it was not only folly, but its time was past.
After it all, the phone call seemed a little unnecessary and over the top, as if the show was taking one last plunge to drive home that it's still the same Doctor, although we all know that. Perhaps it's for the children watching the show, to give them some continuity? Even as unwarranted as it was, it did make me tear up, especially when the two Doctors were talking at the same time.
Clara: Hello? Hello?
The Doctor: It's me.
Clara: Yes, it's you. Who's this?
The Doctor: It's me Clara. The Doctor.
Clara: What do you mean "The Doctor"?
The Doctor: I'm phoning you from Trenzalore, from before I changed. It's all still to happen to me. It's coming, oh it's coming. Not long now. I can ... feel it.
Clara: Why? Why did you do this?
The Doctor: Because I think it's gonna be a whopper. And I think you might be scared. And however scared you are, Clara, the man you are with right now, the man I hope you are with, believe me, he is more scared than can imagine right now, and he needs you. Is that The Doctor?
The Doctor: Is that the Doctor?
The Doctor: He sounds old. Please tell me I didn't get old. I was young. Oh. Is he gray?
The Doctor: Clara, please, hey, for me. Help him. Go on. And don't be afraid. Goodbye Clara. Miss ya.
It all comes down to acceptance. Accepting someone for who they are and not how they look. So Clara will stick around to help this new Doctor, but we already know she'll probably be gone come Christmas. Whatever occurs, I look forward to their new adventures together. I didn't have to be sold on their companionship. They did a fine job on their own.
The Doctor: You can't see me, can you? You look at me and you can't see me. Do you have any idea what that's like? I'm not on the phone. I'm right here. Standing in front of you. Please. Just... Just see me.
Clara: Thank you.
The Doctor: For what?
The new "mystery" in the vein of the Impossible Girl was introduced by way of Missy. She is not only familiar with The Doctor but has seen his new form without actually seeing him. Is she really in some sort of heaven? Was she the person placing the ads that drove Clara and The Doctor together? Why? Will she be the new companion, introduced early as Clara was while Amy was still with her Doctor?
What did you think? Are you on board with changes and what are you hopes for the season? Welcome back!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.