*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*
Jodie Whittaker’s debut, though quieter in location and villain, reinforced the morality at the heart of Doctor Who: that every life is important and valuable. With new faces all around, the plot was a little side-lined by introductions, but with such a wonderful network of characters, a worthy price to meet them.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth began seemingly with Ryan Sinclair’s tale of meeting Thirteen, but ended to reveal a tribute to Grace, his nan. Some say there is a double meaning in the title, and with so many parallels between the nurse and our new Doctor, I’m inclined to agree. Grace’s bravery, humour and love infused into everyone around her and though a cliché of Karl’s motivation app, this episode represented what makes humanity special and why the Doctor protects the Earth so passionately.
As ever, the ingenuity of companions in the Doctor’s most confused hour makes all the difference, empowering them to ask the right questions and find the answers. Jodie played the liminality of the child-who-never-grew-up with the out-of-touch Mum friend seamlessly, brushing off her pain with fast talking and jokes. Ever the best role model, she endorses a healthy nap, and proclaims “Only idiots carry knives”. She gains Yaz and Ryan’s trust quickly, bringing out their curiosity and courage. Graham is a little tougher, but his “why are we running towards the danger” attitude contrasted hilariously, giving me hope for the dynamic to come and that Walsh’s gameshow personality won’t interfere with the believability of his character.
Having Jodie’s natural Huddersfield accent introduced in Sheffield helped her settle into the role and the choice of city was excellent, though I may be biased. Filming in the Peaks and over the city made for some beautiful shots, and the reference to the steel in the Sonic was brilliant. And of course, nothing says Sheffield nightlife better than the drunk guy (rest in peace) throwing his kebab salad at a strange Ant-Man or Power Ranger like masked villain. Having more Northern characters is great; such a beloved British show that spans the universe shouldn’t alienate the rest of England in favour of London.
Not as world shattering as the Sycorax or the Atraxi but still terrifying, Tim Shaw began Chris Chibnall’s vision in quite a dark fashion (nobody really wanted to see his face) but in tradition with the gruesome villains of before, without the need for the weight of the old mythology. Again, even though a few lives were saved, rather than the Doctor heroically saving the entire planet, this made the episode more poignant. If I was watching as a kid I’d be hiding behind the sofa, comforted by her confidence and anger. Hopefully she’ll confront his species again, they clearly need some Shadow Proclamation revision.
With the new theme to be formally introduced next week, the jury is still out on Segun Akinola’s new soundtrack. What was heard in the action scenes and building montage was hopeful, but unlike Murray Gold’s work for The Eleventh Hour, not as notable at other points. Perhaps with its official release and more episodes to come, Akinola’s repertoire of beautiful pieces will build up, so I can feel more in tune with this new era.
This premiere feels prolonged without the traditional introduction to the TARDIS and the awaited iteration of “It’s bigger on the inside”, somewhat disorienting and perhaps too disconnected for die-hard Saturday night fans. But, with the last scene showing off new cameras and leaving our new trio stranded, we don’t know where this show will go next. This is the spark of unpredictability that the show needed after Moffat’s all too long reign. Already, I adore our new characters, am excited for the diverse array of actors to come and want to get my hands on that fabulous coat. With viewing figures beating 10, 11 and 12, I’m sure I’m not alone in my enthusiasm to witness Jodie’s next steps as she makes history.
by Fatima Sheriff
Fatima is a third year biomed at the University of Sheffield. For insight into her personality, her favourite films are: Bright Star, Paddington 2, Taare Zameen Par and Pride & Prejudice and in 2017 she listened mostly to the Hidden Figures soundtrack. Mainly she is an avid TV watcher, particularly shows with original concepts, witty writing and diverse casting. Examples include Legion, Gravity Falls, The Hour, Gilmore Girls, Sense8... and for more, her Twitter and TVShowTime are both @lafatimayette.