And just like that, a new Doctor has arrived! After months of anxious waiting for this very moment, Jodie Whittaker made her debut as the thirteenth Doctor in an exciting episode that blended elements that will appease many longtime Doctor Who viewers, as well as some updated narrative hooks to satisfy the newcomers.
If you haven’t watched Doctor Who before, now is a good time to start. Or maybe you watched at one point and then dropped off, here’s a perfect chance to get back into it. The first episode set a tone for the upcoming series, which said “This is going to be a little different. It’s updated, it’s better, but it’s still most definetely Doctor Who.”
Perhaps making a comment to her skeptics, Jodie Whittaker as 13 says in the first few minutes of her arrival “Don’t be scared. All of this is new to you, and new can be scary.” And the fact is, Whittaker is brilliant as the Doctor. The way she carries herself, her quips, her abundant energy, and her spontaneity all feel like the Doctor, through and through. There were a few times that I felt like she was maybe trying a little too hard, but I think this will quickly shake out as she grows into the character and the world forms around her. Also, as any fan knows, immediately after regeneration, the Doctor has a lot of pent up energy that makes them feel a little haywire, so it’s likely much of that was intentional as well.
The point is, the character feels in very safe hands. The world does as well, with the new companions feeling genuine, interesting, and charismatic. In this episode we met Ryan, Yaz, Gram, and Grace, who all helped the Doctor on her mission to save a man from being the trophy in an alien hunt. Ryan, the grandson of Grace, accidentally grants the alien race permission to hunt on Earth after he discovers an alien light force in the woods after another failed attempt at being taught to ride a bike by his step-grandfather, Gram. They join up with Yaz, a training police officer, and together with the Doctor they must track the alien around the city of Sheffield.
The episode was fun, full of laughs and exciting moments, as well as some quite grim ones. It was a great ride from start to finish, and it gave us just a taste of what the creators have in store for this new generation of Doctor Who. For example, the episode starts off with Ryan talking from a YouTube video screen, includes the use of cell phones and social media, and of course tackles the issue of a female Doctor quite head on. I have no doubt the subject of her being a woman will play into future episodes, providing great commentary on the world’s view as well as the fans’.
If you’ve been unsure whether or not to try this new season, I say definetely go for it. I have a hunch that Jodie Whittaker will only get better from here, and the episodes more exciting and bold.
FINAL SCORE: A