After a wait that has lasted since Christmas 2017, the new Doctor Who is finally here, and Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor does not disappoint. As the most viewed launch episode for a new Doctor since 2005, The Woman Who Fell To Earth is a great start for the show’s latest regeneration. After the departure of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and Steven Moffat as showrunner this new series is essentially a soft-reboot, and features new writers, a new composer and new filming equipment that makes the debut episode feel like a fresh new take on the show, and if the rest of the series is as good as its debut, the future seems bright for the Thirteenth Doctor.
Speaking of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker certainly makes the role her own with great energy and enthusiasm. Her take on the Doctor is definitely in keeping with the character, and from her first scene when she comes crashing through the roof of a train you know that this is the same Doctor, just a different face. In terms of individual personality, the Thirteenth Doctor seems as capable as the Third and Seventh incarnations when it comes to taking control of a situation, and she has a constant buzz of energy that is honed into keeping cool under pressure and working a specific problem, rather like the Tenth Doctor. Jodie Whittaker’s use of her Yorkshire accent also helps her Doctor leave a distinct impression,
But where would the Doctor be without her companions? True to his word, Chris Chibnall broadened the focus of the episode to include not just the Doctor but her new new friends, particularly Ryan, with whom the episode begins. Whilst we have only had one episode with Ryan and other newcomers Yasmin and Graham, they already feel like a fun and interesting TARDIS team – and they haven’t even set foot in the TARDIS yet. This is really a testament to how quickly the Doctor and the new companions meld as a team, and the companions work well with Thirteen’s style of delegation in her plans, a trait of their group that will hopefully continue in later episodes.
This episode brings in vital ingredient needed for a great Doctor Who episode with its great villain, Tzim-Sha – and the special effects on this creature as well as on its entirely CGI companion are fantastic. This episode does involve several grisly deaths, something that is inevitable with good Doctor Who stories, but the Doctor doesn’t take those deaths lying down – she wastes no time in tracking down Tzim-Sha and working out his plan, making for a plot that takes time to get going but accelerates quickly in pace as the plot unfolds. The creature is not likely to have children diving behind the sofa in fear, but it is an impressive design that presents a serious threat. The ending also has some heavy-hitting emotional moments, a testament to how well Chris Chibnall makes the audience care about the new characters right from the get-go.
Arguably one of the best aspects of this episode is how effectively it introduces a new Doctor – crashing into an alien incursion and forced to think on her feet, Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor only briefly questions her new gender before getting stuck in to her new role, and this will hopefully improve this episode’s longevity. Fans in the future will look back on this episode not as ‘that time they tried a woman as the Doctor’ but simply as one of the better ‘New Doctor’ premieres – and this already seems to be what is happening. With 40.1% of the audience share on its air date, The Woman Who Fell To Earth has already become one of the most successful series openers of Doctor Who since the revival, and many who were skeptical over the new Doctor have been won over by her impressive debut.
Overall, the first outing for the Thirteenth Doctor is a promising start and the fact that it has been so well received is fantastic news for Doctor Who fans. If this episode is any indication of what is to come, Doctor Who Series 11 may well be one of the best received seasons in Doctor Who’s history.
- Doctor Who – Top Ten Classic Who Dalek Stories
- Doctor Who – Ranking the NuWho Finales
- Doctor Who – First Impressions of Big Finish
- Doctor Who – Ranking the NuWho companions (2005-2017)