Let me preface this review with saying that, though I loved Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, I checked out of the show halfway through last season after Bill’s brutal death and mutilation. It was, as we’ve discussed numerous times, one maiming of a person of color too many in a long list of them. So, I was tentative about this new season, at best. As much as I enjoy Jodie Whittaker (Attack The Block Alumni in the house!), I just wasn’t sure because I’ve been fooled by this show before.
Then, something amazing happened, I saw myself, or someone I knew, on Doctor Who. Whether it was Grace and Graham, who remind me so much of my mom and father-in-law, respectively, in both personality and how they react to things that it was uncanny; or Ryan and Yas: trying to figure out who they are, smarter than anyone gives them credit for and have so much to learn but are willing to do so, that are so much like my nieces and nephews and a lot of the young people who I am proud to know; or The Doctor herself, who frankly kind of reminds me of me at my ‘I have no idea what I’m doing but I’ll figure it out because people are counting on me’ most. It was representation, and it wasn’t half-arsed (#MickeyAndMarthaDeservedBetter) or weirdly stunted – why were there a billion hints that Bill was The Doctor and River’s daughter that were never followed through on? – instead it was well thought out, not pandering and organic.
In other words, it was everything I didn’t know I was missing from Doctor Who, and now I can never go back to what I had before.
Frankly? That’s what this show needed. Bringing in Chris Chibnall was one of the best decisions the show could make, not just as a showrunner and writer but for his pure cinematic eye. There are shots in these first two episodes that are just breathtaking. Chibnall’s ability as a storyteller is never more apparent than in his quiet scenes, that, unlike some shows I could name (cough::The Walking Dead::cough), tell you everything without saying a word. One of the most moving moments in the episode, and one I hope is just the tip of the iceberg of greatness, is the moment when The Doctor, The Companions and The TARDIS finally meet up. It’s a mostly silent scene with just a bit of dialogue between The Doctor and The TARDIS and the framing, the music, the sheer awe that’s layered into the scene brought me, and everyone who was watching with me, to tears.
- Ryan’s ability to follow along with what The Doctor is saying is something I’ve not seen from a companion in a while that’s not River.
- Yas never stops being a police officer. That’s going to come in handy.
- Ladies building things. It’s my jam and it’s all up in this episode.
- Nobody was Rickon Stark and I appreciated that.
With a new villain (yay!) who has been out here doing the most, new places we’ve never seen before and a new crew this is a great time to jump into the series or fall in love with The Doctor all over again.
Five Sonic Screwdrivers out of Five.