The 10th Series since the revival (36th overall!) begins with “The Pilot”, which is a reference that this is the first outing for new companion Bill Potts and therefore like the first episode ever but also haphazardly written into the episode’s narrative so it makes sense as the opener to a 36th season as well… Let’s take a look!
Two worlds collide when the Doctor meets Bill. A chance encounter with a girl with a star in her eye leads to a terrifying chase across time and space. Bill’s mind is opened to a Universe that is bigger and more exciting than she could possibly have imagined – but who is the Doctor, and what is his secret mission with Nardole on Earth?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
“Yes, you are the first person I’ve ever taken to space… with that haircut.”
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – The Twelfth Doctor… to call himself The Doctor, the thirteenth incarnation and fourteenth Regen- You know what? Screw it. The Twelfth Doctor. Hooray!
Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) – Regular cafeteria worker at St Luke’s University who gets caught up in the mad world of the Doctor. Also falls in love with a girl who turns into a alien water creature, which is a bit of a cliché love story, if you ask me.
Nardole (Matt Lucas) – Alien still accompanying The Doctor for some reason. He’s cowardly and sarcastic, and mostly mechanical… I think. Maybe it’s just his arm, I can’t remember. Sorry.
Heather (Stephanie Hyam) – Shy student with a literal star in her eye (well, a star shape in her eye, not the Sun or anything) who falls for Bill before being turned into alien oily goo and travelling around the place.
I wanted to put a picture of the Movellans here, but they were so brief they all turned out blurry, so here’s another bit of continuity for you!
At the end of the day this story was about introducing Bill Potts as the new companion and therefore reintroducing the show’s format at the same time. It does both of these very well, Bill’s life and attitude is well established before the episode ends and even The Doctor gets a new lease on life after apparently spending 50 years at a University. There is a nice nod to Clara and her exit towards the end too that helps give a general idea that The Doctor is still readjusting to life without her, even though he can’t really remember her.
The whole alien oil / water creature isn’t really anything new, hell the water effects were very reminiscent of the Tenth Doctor story “The Waters of Mars”, but given this episode is about Bill’s introduction the lead threat didn’t need to be big, and in fact shouldn’t of been for fear of it overshadowing what’s important. In that sense it was perfectly written as the love aspect made you feel more for Bill, but the creature never got in the way of the plot’s purpose.
Although it may have been better to not ram it home quite so obviously, it is nice to see a gay companion in the show. It’s very 2017 in that it doesn’t even feel like it should be mentioned as odd (because it shouldn’t!), and it was presented in that way, which is good (especially given some gay characters in the show’s not-to-distant past…)
Love the little wink to long-time / serious Who fans with using the Movellans just as little background cameos. They don’t need a whole new episode or anything, but just that little nod was great. Loved how the Doctor just waved them off as well when Bill asked who they were. Funny stuff.
“Braaaains” … Sorry, I couldn’t come up with anything.
While I quite enjoyed him in last year’s Christmas Special, Nardole seemed in the way here. His jokes and comic running-around almost got in the way of the Doctor / Bill development. It’s really odd, I often just wonder why he’s there… he doesn’t feel like a proper companion.
Let’s pretend he’s bringing the book towards him with The Force. That’s funnier.
The Dalek-Movellan war was first (and last) seen in the 1979 serial “Destiny of the Daleks”. The Doctor had pictures of River Song and his granddaughter Susan on his desk. The Doctor’s attempt to erase Bill memories is done in the same manor as he erased Donna’s back in 2008’s “Journey’s End”, as well as it being a reference to Clara’s exit in 2015’s “Hell Bent” (complete with a version of Clara’s theme playing in the background).
The idea of the this episode was to introduce the world to Bill Potts before she heads off to her adventures with The Doctor, and in that way this episode achieved what it set out to. It’s a light adventure that was fun to watch and sets up the next 11 episodes nicely.