Possible spoilers ahead!
The “Doctor Who” season 11 premiere is a success because new star Jodie Whittaker is a natural as the Doctor. Everything she did and said came off as natural, almost as if she’d been playing the Doctor for years.
From the moment she crashes through the roof of a commuter train, Whittaker is without a doubt the same Doctor audiences have been following for 55 years. She’s smart, fearless, and quick to act when people’s lives are at stake.
Once the Doctor is on the scene, she’s immediately in charge and trying to figure out what the heck attacked the train. But where some previous Doctors who may barked orders at people. Whitaker’s Doctor is more of problem-solver, and always includes her new friends on whatever she’s planning to do. Whether it’s building a new sonic screwdriver or explaining that aliens do exist, this Doctor wants everyone to be on the same page.
Joining the new Doctor is a great group of new companions: There’s Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), a directionless 19-year-old who suffers from a neurological disorders that affects coordination; Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), a police officer in training who yearns to prove she’s capable of more; and Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), a cancer survivor who knows he’s been given a second chance when he met and married Grace (Sharon D. Clarke), a nurse and Ryan’s grandmother.
All of them immediately clicked with Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor, and all of them showed what great companions they can be. From their introductions, they felt like more than just traveling companions for the Doctor. The companions respect the Doctor because she respects them in return. They’re willing to follow her because all she wants to do is help others.
Another great thing is that unlike the last few seasons, there doesn’t appear to be anything cosmically special about any of her new friends. They’re just regular people who get wrapped up in an extraordinary adventure. They all have questions about what’s going on, and some can’t accept that aliens truly exist, but the show handles all that in a fun a refreshing manner. And when in doubt, always ask a bus driver.
‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ moves through a lot of emotional territories very quickly. But it’s still an action-packed and exciting episode. However, when it does slow down, it has some beautiful and heartfelt moments between The Doctor and her new friends. The episode is also pretty funny, and that’s thanks in large part to Jodie Whitaker’s manic energy and the confusion Cole, Gill, and Walsh often find themselves in.
Something else I liked from the season premiere, was that the 13th Doctor had a ton of energy, more than usual I’d say. But this is due to her body still adjusting to the latest regeneration. As a long time fan, I really liked this because this is how it usually was.
Look at Peter Davison’s first story in 1981, his Doctor nearly died after regenerating. Having Whitaker’s Doctor suffer some growing pains, was a nice little touch by the episode writers.
The episode kicks off a new era for the long-running British sci-fi series – one that includes not only a new Doctor but a new showrunner in Chris Chibnall. This infusion of fresh blood in front and behind the cameras made the Doctor Who season 11 premiere feel fresh while also serving as a great jumping on point for new viewers.
The Doctor Who season 11 premiere is a near perfect start to the new series and for Jodie Whitaker. The overall plot is second to getting the main pieces in motion, for the season, but it gets the job done. Quite frankly, it has been ages since a single Doctor Who episode satisfied me this much, and as far as I’m concerned the question has been answered and Jodie Whitaker IS the Doctor.
‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ score: A