Doctor Who is back on the tellybox! HURRAH! And so begins a new exciting series of NOT REVIEWS on this blog. Now you might be asking, possibly, heh, didn’t you do these so-called non-reviews last season of Doctor Who and NOT ACTUALLY FINISH? And, yes, that is correct. So, I shall be, er, finishing off last season’s reviews during this week (a mere year and a bit late), so I don’t feel constantly irritated at the incompletion.
So, THE PILOT, how was it?
The answer VERY GOOD. Here is some of why:
- BILL! BILL POTTS! A new companion! Oh, the fear of a new companion. WHAT IF THEY’RE TERRIBLE WHAT IF I CAN’T STAND THEM AND DOCTOR WHO IS RUINED FOREVER??? Happily Pearl Mackie put to rest any fears in about thirty seconds. And those were thirty seconds that included a fat joke ffs. I mean, rly. Moffat, you’re a witty writer. Don’t make fat jokes. YOU ARE BETTER THAN THAT. That aside, the pre-credits opening scene was BEAUTIFUL and did a wonderful job making Bill into a person and making BANTER HAPPEN and I would have hugged the telly it was so adorbs except that would be silly.
- The Doctor has spent fifty years arsing about as a professor at this university. This made me so happy. Because he would. But also because they nicked it from SHAAAADDAAAAA (unfinished thanks to writers’ strike, last story of Season Seventeen – there’s a DVD of what got made with linking narration for the missing bits AND ALSO an eighth Doctor audio online remake, should you wish to see more old Time Lords arsing about at uni). This was BUT ONE of the many delightful old skool references this story. We also had Susan (and River OH MY HEART) in framed photos on the Doctor’s desk; Bill is interested in a girl named Heather (William aka Bill Hartnell was married to a Heather); there was a blink and you’ll miss it TRIUMPHANT RETURN of the Movellans, last seen some decades ago in Destiny of the Daleks; the Out of Order sign on the TARDIS was pinched from The War Machines.
- Pearl Mackie is very good. Like really really very good. Her range is magnificent, and utterly charming. Fav moments: her silent tears as she looks through a box of pics of her Mum, and her sweet as anything “hello!” the first time she sees watery Heather.
- Capaldi is of course perfection, how could he be anything but, why is he LEAVING? Oh, the PAIN. But, oh, I forgot just how much I loved him until he was onscreen making everything wonderful again. MANY POINTS for his running. “Like a penguin with its arse on fire” according to Bill, V GOOD LINE MUCH APPROVAL. Beautifully emphasised as we get to see Bill running right after him. She runs like a person, not an ignited penguin.
- UNEXPECTED DALEKS! I mean, I suspect more observant fans than I realised we were in the Friend from the Future trailer and so were like, meh, BUT I DIDN’T. So that was actually a bit exciting for me. Can’t remember the last time I was surprised by a Dalek.
- I am appalled that everyone likes the Doctor’s lectures, wtf? He would be terrible. He would be the lecturer you prayed you WOULDN’T get. NOTHING, NOT EVEN CANON TELLY, WILL DISSUADE ME ON THIS FACT.
- That was one top interior TARDIS reveal. Got yer actual shivers going up my arms seeing that. First and second time. Gorgeous pullback, and then Capaldi standing framed next to the console looking so utterly perfectly gorgeous.
- BRISTOL. We are in BRISTOL. Aka NOT LONDON. Hurrah! That’s three for three non-London companions from Moffat. SO MUCH APPROVAL.
- Often, watching Moffat Who, I feel like he got my notes on everything that distressed me about New Who, and fixed those things. Here, we have the first woman of colour as the main companion since Martha. Now, Martha, I love Martha. And even TEN YEARS LATER, I feel horribly angry at how she was treated in the show. Because goddamnit, wtf? Don’t make the companion feel second-best, show! DEFINITELY don’t do it when she’s the first main black companion! No, I don’t give a shit what the textual reasons might be, you find a way around it so you’re not being an asshole to those who identify most with the new one. And then there was that whole stringing her along with “just one trip” etc VERY UNCOMFORTABLE VIEWING. Happily whatever mistakes may be made this time round THEY WILL AT LEAST BE DIFFERENT. Bill and the Doctor are BEAUTIFUL TOGETHER. They have a bit of a s26 VIBE going on, that I am well happy with. They have CHEMISTRY that is a joy to watch and it is WARM and LOVELY and DELIGHTFUL. And I am FAIRLY IN LOVE with the moment Capaldi is all “no, I can’t companion” then imagines River and Susan judging him, and he instantly dashes out to invite her for adventures. THAT IS MY DOCTOR.
- Oh, the plot. There was a plot, yes. Okay, I will say I am both impressed at and terrified of magic space engine oil that can travel hundreds of millions of light years and through time in minutes. Now, call me crazy, but it seems like that might be overkill for the abilities of space engine oil. Maybe there is an explanation for this (maybe even in the episode? I pay a lot of attention to the plot obv). Anyway, it made for some nice jaunts, which worked really well in getting some nice, swift development in the Doctor and Bill’s relationship, so we really get a sense of both her and them by the end of the ep.
- I liked that the alien planet was sparkly, and had floofy plant things, and was a quarry.
- Proper nice spookiness too. In fact, creepier than actual horror movies I’ve seen (Dark Water, anyone?) where the water was supposed to be scary.
- Nardole was there. And he was inoffensive. But he could have been NOT THERE and we could have had another minute of Bill and Doctor banter.
- ”Imagine how you’d feel if someone did that to you.” WELL QUITE. I’m not Entirely Happy with the Doctor considering mind-wiping without consent because wtf. But at least it didn’t happen, and he realized Bill was right, and I suppose maybe if what’s in the Vault might blow up the planet or whatever if the wrong person finds out? I don’t know. It’s morally repugnant, but if it was “for the greater good” then yeah, okay, it’s no worse than all those attempted Dalek genocides. It’s just was that NECESSARY? (Why won’t you pander to MY EXACT SPECIFICATIONS, show?) And I suppose if it was to emphasise “ooh, what’s in the fault? DANGER!!” Okay.)
- Though as an excuse to use Clara’s theme, and the Capaldi expression in that moment, it’s almost worth it, cause, oh my, can open, feelings everywhere.
IN CONCLUSION, that was pretty great and left me on a little cloud of happy flail and delight. Eight out of ten water puddles.