There’s a few things that have to happen when ‘Doctor Who’ relaunches. Audiences need to meet the new Doctor, the fresh batch of companions need introduced, and viewers need to get a feel for the new direction the show invariably takes.
The first episode of the latest series, ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, starring Jodie Whittaker as the newly regenerated Time Lord manages to do pretty much everything that is required with director Jamie Childs seeming a pretty safe pair of hands to trust with it. Sure there has to be some kind of narrative to drive the proceedings, here several mysterious events across Sheffield draw our characters together but as with most pilot episodes, it’s a means to the end of establishing how the rest of the episode and series should pan out. However, from this opening episode tonally the show feels like it has shifted quite dramatically. Gone is the fairy tale feeling that Steven Moffat, previous showrunner, often brought to the stories, and instead the drama kept us grounded in Sheffield with bus drivers, police women and crane operators.
The Earth bound location is pretty much the norm for ‘Doctor Who’ though, with previous Doctors Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi all having initial stories set on Earth. Whittaker herself comes across as confident and energetic. Of course there is the usual nods to the regeneration process taking its time to kick in, but by the end of the episode she seems as Doctor-y as they come. New companions Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yazz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) all come as a package, but writer Chris Chibnall’s script manages to flesh them out just enough for us to engage and empathise with them. This is a mean feat even with an extended run time of an hour, and with so much else going on.
Hardcore Whovians will have to wait until the end credits to hear the new theme, a bass laden homage to more classic ‘Doctor Who’ themes of old, and I either tuned in late or we never got a new title sequence this week. Is this the first time this has happened? I thought we were getting a pre credit sequence but as time went on I guess they may have wanted to just get the whole thing started. I suppose it will be a surprise next week when we do get a title sequence, or maybe they won’t bother, new series anything goes! Musically speaking the new themes and incidental music by Segun Akinola are very different. The music of ‘Doctor Who’ is so deeply associated with Murray Gold, that it may jar long time fans, and let’s face it long term fans have a lot to take on board here.
However, the first episode is an exciting, often strangely dark first outing that does what it needs to do and really at this stage nobody can know how the shake up will affect the long term future of the show. Prepare for the internet to split and social media to boil as the pros and cons are debated on the run up to Christmas. Whatever happens, you have to admit that this is a brave new era for ‘Doctor Who’, and we can only hope that ratings and audience appreciation figures are healthy and strong enough to sustain it for another fifty years.
Written by Louie Fecou
Edited by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite opening episode from a series since the relaunch?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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