So what can we say about “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”, Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the Doctor, without hitting any spoilers? Quite a lot, as it happens.
Simply put, this is a fantastic start to a new era of Doctor Who. For all the fuss about the Doctor now being a woman, Jodie Whittaker so completely inhabits the character of the Doctor that within a very few minutes it’s clear that it makes absolutely no difference.
This episode is designed to hit two types of viewers: those who have never seen the show before and are trying to jump onto a train that’s been running for more than a decade (or more than half a century, depending when you start counting) and those who know everything that has come before and are looking for a continuation. Surprisingly, it manages to hit both of those targets.
It starts with the companions, which have always been meant as the viewer’s proxy in the Doctor’s world, managing to introduce not just one, but four reasonably fleshed out characters in a very short period of time. By the time the Doctor arrives (about 2 minutes later than she probably should have, pacing-wise, but it’s forgivable) you’re fully-invested in what’s going on, and because both the companions and the Doctor are new to all of this, there’s just enough exposition to keep even newbies rolling along without annoying existing fans.
That’s not the only needle the episode successfully threads, either. In many ways, it acts as a much-needed reboot. There has been talk of late of Doctor Who getting stale, but this episode does a lot to bring it more in touch with today’s world, from nods to Youtube and GoPros to characters who react to the weird things that happen the way normal humans actually would. But at the same time the show is recognizably Doctor Who; there’s even less of a continuity break than there was between Classic and Modern Who.
And with a diverse set of companions, fears that boys would tune out of a female Doctor because they have nobody to relate to are completely unfounded. Male, female, old, young, black, brown, white, virtually everyone can find someone to identify with.
Does the Doctor find the TARDIS before the episode ends? Let’s just say that the situation is handled in a completely Doctor Who way, and if you were worried about the direction the show would take, you can breathe a little easier. You can already see signs of the return of the wit of prior years, and the action and pacing are already on display.
So far, at least, the show is in capable hands.
What did you think? Tell us in the comments below.