Doctor Who (Series 11) – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

Some background considering that I primarily write about anime on my blog. I am, in fact, a fan of Doctor Who. I started watching it when the franchise celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, beginning with Matt Smith’s tenure as the titular Time Lord and continuing onto Peter Capaldi’s. I’m still playing catch up on seasons prior so I’m sure some jackass will call me a filthy casual or something. I don’t care though, this is a sci-fi series that I really enjoy and with a new season finally airing, the temptation to write is very high.

Now does seem like an appropriate to jump in on the bandwagon too. It’s essentially a new era for Doctor Who as Chris Chibnall now takes the role of showrunner, (finally) replacing Steven Moffat. Oh and of course, you have a new Doctor — the first time the character has ever been portrayed by a woman even. My two cents on the matter is simple. I was really excited to see Jodie Whittaker play the role based on what I’ve heard of her as an actress and the message her casting sends. All those people decrying it as political correctness are free to just not watch this season. As someone who got tired of Moffat’s writing towards the end of his run as showrunner, I was curious to see what Chris Chibnall could bring to the table. The only thing making me skeptical was the fact that I’ve seen the episodes he wrote for Moffat and, well, they varied in quality to say the least.

Obviously, there’s a whole ten episodes to reserve final judgment over but for now, I think this season is off to a promising start with “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. As the title suggests, the Doctor literally crash lands onto Earth (surprise she didn’t regenerate again upon impact) and runs into some humans who have stumbled upon on what I can best describe as this show’s take on Predator. It’s a back to basics kind of episode which is fine since this is the first episode for a lot of people working on this show. Better to start modestly before diving headfirst into a mythology as vast as Doctor Who‘s.

To go off of that, this episodes does very much feel like a humble beginning for the Thirteenth Doctor. She practically is starting off from scratch; forced to make do with her wits and whatever resources she has as she is currently without her TARDIS. At one point, you even see her make a new Sonic Screwdriver for herself which sends an interesting signal. As far as I can recall, a new model is usually just handed over to the Doctor by the TARDIS.

Characterization also reflects this tone. One issue I had with Moffat’s run is the constant stress on the gravitas and influence of the Doctor. There’s exceptions but in general, it started to get rather grating. By contrast, Chibnall has the Thirteenth Doctor act modestly about what she does; simply saying that she just helps someone when she sees them in need. Going along the same lines, I got to hand it to Chibnall for not emphasizing the Doctor being a woman all that much. It’s acknowledged, you kind of have to with such a big change to the character, but it only happens once as a one-off remark. Honestly, it’s for the better. Man or woman, the Doctor is still the Doctor.

And besides, I’m really liking Jodie Whittaker as the character right now. The eccentrics, the wisdom, the selflessness; she seems to have it all down. If I had to make a comparison, I’d say that Whittaker’s performance kind reminds me a bit of Matt Smith’s. Like Smith, there’s this feeling of warmth and energy that Whittaker seems to project onto her character. If she is feeling any pressure over being the first woman to play the Doctor, she clearly isn’t show it in her acting.

If there’s really anything that needs to get ironed out, it’d be the new companions that’ll accompany the Doctor this season. Everyone in the cast seem to be capable actors and conceptually, it is really refreshing to have a team for once and not just the one. But I don’t know; they just don’t seem that terribly interesting at the moment. Graham (Bradley Walsh) admittedly makes the strongest impression with his sensibility and I enjoyed his chemistry with his wife Grace (personally, I would’ve liked to keep her alive). But as for Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Yasmin (Mandip Gill), their personality seems pretty basic at the moment. Just two young adults, the former needing a confidence boost and the latter feeling she could be doing something more exciting with her life. I suppose introducing three new main characters at once created a juggling act so hopefully, this will pan out overtime.

I do hope to write more Doctor Who Episode Reviews. Granted, there’s a lot of anime for me to watch as per usual and adding a show that runs for almost an hour on average does complicate the watch list and blogging schedule. Whatever the case may be, it is nice to have Doctor Who on air again and I look forward to see what this new era has in store.  

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