The return of Doctor Who was accompanied by a mix of apprehension and excitement. It had divided audiences before it even started filming, the usual critique aimed at the next lead actor elevated to extremes. Jodie Whittaker is the first female to play the Doctor and it was an announcement which pulled the internet apart to polar opposites. While some were pleased that finally enough time had passed for a gender swap, others were disgusted that the show famed for its ability to reinvent had reinvented itself just a bit too much.
Yes, the regeneration was monumental, regardless of how you feel about it. However, the Doctor’s return to our screens was not all new. Watching the episode, something which has been lacking for the past few years came to the fore. It felt British. Perhaps it cheated a little by using Sheffield, a South Yorkshire city which isn’t exactly a high-ranking tourist destination, but it was silly in a way the British specialise in and did not feel like an attempt at a mini Hollywood movie.
‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ was a local episode for local people. The Doctor is Northern again and so is the setting. There were more opportunities for jokes afforded by being in the north than the gender swap. Being female was mentioned in passing once, and why would it be more relevant? There was an alien collecting human teeth as trophies for its murders running through the Steel City, getting salad thrown on it by a drunk. More pressing issues were at hand than whether this woman claiming to be an alien but with a Yorkshire accent had always been a woman.
As an introduction to a new Doctor, this was one of the strongest of the reboot. Christopher Eccleston’s eased us into the revival slowly, before throwing all the aliens in for episode 2. David Tennant spent his first adventure asleep, Matt Smith had an excellent introduction in ‘The Eleventh Hour’ but Peter Capaldi had to work around being with Clara. This new Doctor has touches of the four before her, especially the enthusiasm and tendency to build things of Tennant.
Another concern voiced by many was the companions. While some were the usual ‘this is too SJW’ because not everyone is white, some people were more reasonable and did not think Bradley Walsh was suitable for the show. The UK and Sheffield are not popularity entirely by white people so diversity makes more sense than a monochrome cast. For now, they work well but it’s too early to tell if that will continue to be the case. It may well come to pass that there are just too many people.
Villainous dentist Tzim-Sha was literally chilling but played for laughs, retaining the darkness which should be in a show featuring so much death but ushering out the more serious side of the Doctor. His threat was kept small, not desiring the destruction of the planet or even the city. He was hunting one man and some people got in the way. As an introduction, it’s effective because it reminds us that no person’s life is unimportant, even to a hero who has seen galaxies and parallel universes.
We have been given a strong opening episode and a mystery of what’s to unfold. The preview was merely a montage of actors who are set to guest star. After revealing things too early last series, the BBC is wise to keep things under wraps this time around. Still, we (I) can only hope that whenever aliens invade the UK they continue to not hit London every time. There’s comedy to be found in the stereotypes the rest of the world does not yet know about. How would the people of Staffordshire react to a purple tentacle monster tearing up a shopping centre?