Because I’ve been gone so long, you’re getting another Doctor Who review. Regular Wednesday schedule starts up next week.
Another Christmas Special has come and gone, same with another Sherlock season, which mean we, finally, get another season of Doctor Who. Both Moffat and Capaldi’s last. This is ‘The Pilot’.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR DOCTOR WHO SERIES 10 EPISODE 1
The Doctor’s been teaching at a university, with Nardole as his assistant, where he finds a canteen worker named Bill, played by Pearl Mackie, who’s been sneaking into his, very popular, lectures and offers to tutor her. Sometime later she becomes infatuated with another student named Heather, played by Stephanie Hyam, with a colouration shaped like a star in her eye. When a strange puddle becomes a source of intrigue for both Heather and then Bill, Bill’s life will change in a way she never knew could be possible. The Doctor comes out of retirement…again.
First off, I love Bill. I love her so much more than I ever did Clara. She’s curious, doesn’t balk in the face of what she doesn’t know and sees what she doesn’t understand as a challenge. She enjoys it. Plus, the sass. Every good companion has sass and Bill’s got in in spades. We even get a little backstory from her in this episode about her relationship with her family, or lack thereof. Clara was fine for what she was and she got better as time went on, especially from the 50th anniversary and onward, but she just never really clicked with me. Bill does that and more. Plus, first openly LGBT+ companion! YES!!
So apparently Nardole’s a permanent companion? Okay, gives us a male companion. That’s nice. And yay! A companion who’s not a girl from Earth in 21st Century England. Haven’t had one of those since the revival. At least not on a permanent basis. I think the last one was Jack and he was mainly there as a backdoor pilot for Torchwood. Rory and Mickey don’t count. They were there because of the female companion. Maybe Nardole’s only there because River asked him to be, but I’m gonna count it because this used to be a pretty common thing in the classic series. Also, they should bring Jack back.
The villain this time has more to do with the companion than the Doctor. The Doctor’s not even a thought in their mind. Only Bill. I like when they get more personal and it’s not all “You’re in danger because you hang out with The Doctor”. It gives the companions more character and makes them less of just a POV character for the audience. Ace is a good example of this. They sort of hint at something that appears to be a season long arc in the basement so we’ll have to see where that leads, but for now it served as a good red herring for the motivations of the villain.
Also, everyone say “Hi Daleks!” and “Goodbye!”
The idea of the Doctor as a university professor is something that’s been toyed with in other incarnations, but I don’t think has ever really been shown and he plays it amazingly. He acts like that professor you’ve always wanted: he makes his subject fun and engaging and wants to get you invested in what he’s teaching. Him being a tutor for Bill is also a fun aspect of the Doctor’s character as he usually uses his jaunts through time and space as a way to educate his companions. The show was initially meant to teach kids about history and science after all. One aspect about the Doctor’s office at the university I really liked was that he had photographs of not only his wife River, but also his granddaughter Susan on his desk. It’s one of the very few times Susan gets a mention or acknowledgement of existence in the series and I’m glad they included it. Not only is she his family, she was also his very first companion.
There was a moment at the end that basically just highlights how long it’s been between the end of the last series and this one that I completely forgot the whole Clara and mind wipe thing. At least they acknowledged it.
In short, I liked ‘The Pilot’. It’s a good introduction to our new companion and sets up a mystery The Doctor’s hiding. It sort of feels like a soft reboot for the series. The plots of past seasons are done and we’re starting fresh for our new companion. If you have a friend who you’re trying to get into Doctor Who, but is intimidated by the long history (whether it be 52 or 12 years), this might be a good place to start.
As for what’s ahead this season that I’m looking forward to….Hey Missy, you’re so fine! You’re so fine, you blow my mind! Hey Missy! Hey! Hey! Hey Missy!