The Thirteenth Doctor has arrived, and with her a certainly fresh feeling episode Doctor Who. The Doctor herself isn’t anything new at the moment (well, apart from gender!) which is of course a common post-regeneration thing, but I did enjoy the new cast that surrounds her. It was a fun opener to her run, and promises a different experience in the weeks ahead. Let’s take a closer look, then, at “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”.
In a South Yorkshire city, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan and Graham O’Brien are about to have their lives changed forever, as a mysterious woman, unable to remember her own name, falls from the night sky…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Hey look! It’s the cast of characters!
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) – The Doctor has not only regenerated, but has been thrown from her TARDIS and through the roof of a train. No matter! Off to save some lives from an alien threat, as per…
Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) – Ryan has Dyspraxia, which means he has poor coordination. He tries not to let it ruin his life, but it’s hard when you can’t even ride a bike…
Yasmin Kahn (Mandip Gill) – Yas is a newbie in the police force who wishes to tackle the big crimes, without realising that you have to start from the bottom before making it to the top…
Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) – Graham is a cancer survivor who thought his life was over until he met his nurse, Grace. Now not only is his cancer in remission, but he has a new wife, and a grandson he cares for. When things are going this well, a visit from The Doctor is bound to make things better!
Grace O’Brien (Sharon D. Clarke) – Grace is a nurse who fell in love her patient Graham, later marrying him. She cares deeply for her grandson Ryan and has ended up being the one to raise him…
Tim Shaw (Samuel Oatley) – An alien who is looking to claim a randomly selected human as a trophy in order to rise up the ranks. He’s not opposed to cheating, either…
THREE companions? What is this, the Fifth Doctor’s era?!
It’s early days for Jodie Whittaker (as it is for most Doctors in their first episodes!) so it’s hard to criticise her Doctor for being rather generic at the moment. That being said, her energy was good, and most importantly, she seems to have surrounded herself with new, interesting characters. Ryan, the young lad with a coordination problem, Yas the junior policewoman, and Graham the older man, are all companion types we’ve never had before, and they all play off of each other well. It’s obviously hard to say at the moment how this dynamic will play going forward, but at the moment I’m impressed, it gave the whole show a fresh feeling.
Actually the direction, the setting and the music (finally, a new composer!) helped towards that fresh feeling just as a much as a new Doctor did. It’s been so long under Moffat and even longer with Murray Gold (who started off amazingly, but eventually his tunes just lacked that past enthusiasm…), that it does feel odd to be in a whole new era of the show again. Odd, but good.
Most of the episode saw The Doctor and co chasing either the alien or its device from different locations, with a few deaths here and there. A great scene where The Doctor builds a new sonic screwdriver and an amusingly low-self-esteemed crane driver being the randomly selected target of a killer alien were all good fun, and kept the pace up so it never felt slow.
The final showdown on top of two cranes was good, as was the classic “Doctor finals gets his/her head straight and proudly announces who he/she is as they beat the monster” scene. The background music during this bit was especially good.
I’ll admit to being surprised Grace died in the final act, given she was so… nice, and her death was so… pointless. Still, it gave a good reason for everyone to come even closer together, and eventually regather to head off into the unknown. Love the cliffhanger, everyone suddenly finds themselves floating in the middle of space… it’ll be interesting to see what happens there, even if the next time trailer not even addressing it takes some of the shine off…
Oh and I liked “Tim Shaw” ‘s robot thing, which looked like a swirling balls of cables, spewing electricity all over the place.
I’d have preferred a shot of the Tim Shaw (the alien), but given I’m doing this right after it aired I’m stuck to only using press release photos…
“Tim Shaw”, as he’s apparently called, was on the generic side, even if his armour looked cool in a stereotypical way. He’s basically The Predator, but instead of looking alien he looked like a blue-skinned human with teeth sticking out of his face. Other being’s teeth as some sort of trophy, but it still looked a bit shit. Anyway, this is far from the first Doctor Debut story to have a weaker enemy as the episode focus on the new characters, and it won’t be the last!
So Ryan has Dyspraxia and therefore has coordination issues… so why did I see a scene where he and his grandparents are sitting on the edge of a sheer drop? Why did Jas allow him to start scaling an extremely tall crane ladder, and then stand on the top of it? Seems kind of irresponsible, if you ask me…
As I said, I didn’t get any real feel for how the Thirteenth Doctor is going to act or be like going forward, but that has been the case more times than not. Even the Doctors who just nailed their take on the Doctor from the get-go evolved over the course of their first season/series, so this isn’t factoring into the score, but just thought I’d mention it!
Now that would be a unique look for a Doctor, sadly she wears “normal clothes” instead… (that was a joke, though… sonic blow torch, anyone?)
Apart from leading on directly from “Deep Breath”, nothing links to past stories, and as per usual, that was by design. This is a fresh start, no need to tie yourself too strongly to the past, and instead look forward. Oh, that reminds me, this immediately follows into the next story, “The Ghost Monument”, as should be obvious by the way I mentioned the cliffhanger earlier!
The Woman Who Fell to Earth reminded me a lot of The Eleventh Hour. It had an crazy energetic new Doctor, some baffled companions-to-be, and a main foe who was generic and under-developed. That’s fine, two out of three ain’t bad, as they say, and the new companion set up has me looking forward to seeing where this is going, and for Episode 1 of a series, that’s a good thing! (Note: Going forward I will be posting these reviews on the Tuesday or possibly Wednesday after they air. I’m not a big fan of writing this late on a Sunday, but I felt the event was big enough!)