Baz Greenland gives his spoiler-free musings on Jodie Whittaker’s debut as The Doctor.
It’s an exciting time for Doctor Who fans. With a new Doctor comes change; add in new companions, writers, showrunner, composer and this is the biggest behind the scenes change since Russell T Davies brought the beloved sci-fi series back in 2005. I remember watching Rose thirteen years ago (has it really been that long?) and remember the sense of wonder the show brought with it, We had a quasi reboot again with Moffat taking over and Matt Smith’s Doctor helming the TARDIS in 2010 (The Eleventh Hour is still my favourite Doctor debut episode of the modern era), but coming into The Woman Who Fell To Earth the change is distinct and refreshing. This really is Nu Who mark 2.
That’s not to say this isn’t still Doctor Who. There’s still an alien threat, plenty of mystery, exciting new companions and Jodie Whittaker truly is the Doctor. The change from male to female Doctor isn’t a major talking point, she’s just the Doctor dealing with the usual fallout of a regeneration while trying to save people. But she is lighter, more infectious than Peter Capaldi – you could say there’s a dash of Tennant and Smith in there but really she makes this role her own.
Perhaps where incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall really comes into his own is in the human characters. There is a real sense of that down to Earth humility and a deep emotional connection to their journeys. That deep, engaging characterisation you saw in Chibnall’s Broadchurch? It’s right here and he really makes his mark, managing to keep this a distinctly ensemble show while still allowing Whittaker to shine as the lead protagonist.
I’m not going to say anything more about the companions except this. By the end of the first episode you will get a real sense of who they are. There is still room for further development but you believe in them and the journey they will take with the Doctor.
I’m also not going to anything about the plot because really, you should go into this episode knowing as little as possible. Chibnall has ensured that the trailers are minimal, the episode details sparse. The fact is, we’ve only had details on the first two episodes and the trailers, as exciting as they are, seem to offer a mere glimpse of what is to come. As much as I loved so, so much about Moffat’s Doctor Who, there was a sense that too much was spoiled by press releases, trailers and news stories long before the episodes aired. The BBC seems to have learned from that and the tight ship on spoilers is really going to make this a fantastic live experience for so many fans.
I can’t wait to watch it again on Sunday. It will allow me to appreciate the deep characterisation and performances all over again. Doctor Who really is back and yet it feels very new too. Almost, almost a reboot of sorts. I’m still missing Capaldi, but Whittaker really is now the Doctor and I can’t wait to go on more adventures with her.
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