The Return of the Doctor

Stratis Bohle

Last Christmas, the Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special “Twice Upon a Time” featured Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor regenerate after a fatal explosion killed the cybermen into Jodie Whitaker’s 13th Doctor. This new incarnation is the first female in the show’s 55-year history of the Doctor but technically not the first such change. John Simms, The Master, regenerated into Missy, a female Time Lord.

Our first full episode with Whitaker, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” as the Doctor premiered on October 7th at 5:45 U.K. time. It was an extremely interesting opening episode with as it was the first time in the show where the Doctor’s first episode had no Tardis in any form. The new companions were introduced to be Graham O’Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan played by respectively Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill. The new companions are all linked through Ryan Sinclair, whose grandmother Grace and grand-stepfather Graham were on a train. Ryan and school friend Yaz meet them while the train was stopped and an alien orb attacked another passenger, a crane operator named Karl who is being hunted by the warrior race, the Stenzene. Right after this, the Doctor falls in through the train causing the alien device to zap itself away. Soon afterward Whitaker makes, as the Doctor puts it ,  “new best friends” with the train passengers as she leads them on the search for the alien orb. Then, the Doctor creates a new sonic screwdriver from the wreckage of the orb allowing for her to fight the Stenza, a race of aliens we will most likely see as a recurring race this season.

The main companion, Ryan, is based off of the season opener but the breakout companion Graham, is in a situation that we haven’t had since the 11th Doctor’s companions, Amy & Rory. The ability to have three companions with the Doctor hasn’t occurred since the 1984 serial “Planet of Fire,” where the 5th Doctor’s companions, Vislor Turlough and Kamelion, both leave the series. Hopefully, the intertwined relationships of the companions is able to play out successfully throughout the season, and not become a jumbled mess leading to a character not getting enough development. This could cause their respective actor to leave the show, which has happened before in the original show.

The take Whitaker took with her iteration of the character is certainly reminiscent of 10th Doctor, but has flairs of Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor with her talk about Venusian aikido and tinkering with tools. She certainly reminds me of a childlike creature with the ability to battle aliens. The overall look of the show is colorful and reminiscent of a 4K HDR television test display. The set design is extremely normal for a Doctor Who episode, but the costumes are incredible. The costume design for the Stenza looks as if they took an Ice Warriors costume and flipped it around, making it work like Iron Man’s suit with regards to functionality.

The overall episode was a smash, and will certainly bring me into seeing the rest of this season on Sunday nights. The plot could use some shortening and tweaking, but being 1 hour it was bound to get long. The Doctor and her companions will certainly have big shoes to fill  with the episodes to follow “The Woman Who Fell To Earth,” but overall I would give the first episode an eight out of ten.