Yes, There Were Problems with Doctor Who's Premiere, But Jodie Whittaker Wasn't One of Them

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Doctor Who - Jodie Whittaker

Meet Jodie Whittaker. For the foreseeable future, she’s The Doctor — and I’m completely fine with that. The idea that Doctor Who could regenerate in a female form had been telegraphed ever since we learned The Master had been reborn as Missy all those episodes ago. It was an intriguing concept, and one that could open up a cornucopia of new story ideas. For my part, I was hoping that the female Doctor was going to be Jenna Coleman, who as a prior companion had announced “I’m the Doctor” on more than one occasion, so that I hoped it was a bit of foreshadowing.

“The Woman Who Fell to Earth” finds the newly regenerated Doctor literally falling to Earth, the TARDIS absent and far away. She’s still having trouble with the memories and getting her bearings both mentally and physically, but as usual there’s no time to just rest and recuperate because there’s still a world to save. This time the trouble comes in the form of an alien hunter who has come to make his bones on Earth before returning to his home planet to assume the mantle of leadership.

There was plenty to like in this debut episode of the latest season of DOCTOR WHO, and you’ve probably made your own list already. However, there were a handful of cringeworthy moments that I just couldn’t let slip past.

First up, there’s the character of Ryan (TOSIN COLE), a young man who suffers from a condition that impacts his coordination. Apparently this means he cannot ride a bicycle, because he has little trouble walking or climbing, and indeed we never see him clumsy in any other way. When he chucks his bike over a cliff and is forced to go back down and retrieve it, he discovers a giant purple Hershey’s Kiss, and calls the police.

Enter Yasmine Khan (MANDIP GILL), a young lady who wants more challenges in her role as a police officer — oh, and a former school chum of Ryan’s, so that’s convenient. Ryan and Yas form part of the team that will accompany the Doctor on future adventures.

And as for The Doctor, she appears at the scene of a train accident, where Ryan’s grandmother, Grace (SHARON D. CLARKE), is traveling with her second husband, Graham (BRADLEY WALSH). The train has encountered a different extraterrestrial entity, and to will be up to The Doctor to piece together what it all means in the way only The Doctor can.

It turns out the humanoid alien is a talkative tough guy, who delivers talkative tough guy lines right out of a B movie. He’s here on Earth to hunt a specific human, assigned to him at random, kind of like Predator but with less honor. He can’t use weapons or assistance, but he’s super strong and has an icy touch that causes humans to die if he comes into contact with them. All he has to do is bring back his assigned human as a trophy and then keep him in stasis forever (but he can kill any other human, and keep a tooth from them as a trophy, so why he keeps the assigned one nearly alive is a mystery).

Bereft of the TARDIS and cursed with “empty pockets,” The Doctor is forced to build another sonic screwdriver from scrap just laying about. (Good news for all you DIY cosplayers out there!) She then explains that it’s more of a Sonic Swiss Army Kife, having multiple functions except for the knife, because “only idiots carry knives.” This plays into the #KnifeFree movement going on in Britain. It’s a bit like gun control, but since Britain already has gun control, people found another weapon, so now it’s getting the focus of attention.

The episode ends with the usual riffs: The Doctor has to get the new wardrobe, and the humans end up being traveling companions for a while (although this time quite by mistake). It’s all good enough to merit a return, but one can definitely tell there are new showrunners driving the script. If this version of DOCTOR WHO fails anywhere, it’s with the writers, certainly not the actors.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0