Possible spoilers ahead!
Finally, after nearly a year and a half without a proper season, “Doctor Who” returned last weekend with the season 10 premier, “The Pilot.”
The new season has its work cut out for it: this is the final season for Peter Capaldi and
producer Steven Moffat. This means the end season 10 will introduce us to a new incarnation of the Doctor. If that wasn’t enough, “The Pilot” also introduced the Doctor’s new companion, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie).
The addition of a new companion is never easy, but I thought this episode did a great job introducing viewers to Bill Potts. In just one episode we got to know her background, what she does for a living now, and that behind her humourous demeanor lies a smart and tough lady.
About a year ago, the BBC released a sort of mini trailer featuring Pearl Mackie asking the Doctor what a Dalek was. From that clip alone, I thought her character was going to be almost slapstick next to the Doctor. But I’m happy to say I was completely wrong. Pearl Mackie carries much of the episode, and she was terrific.
I also liked that Bill is quirky enough that she stands out from previous companions. She’s very likable, and I think her and Peter Capaldi are going to have some great adventures together.
Their first adventure takes place mostly at a University where the Doctor has been lecturing undercover for years. The Doctor seems quite happy there, and in his office he even has two photos on his desk, one of River Song and one of his granddaughter Susan.
As the season starts we don’t know why he’s there, but he later reveals, “I am here for a reason. I am in disguise. I have promises to keep. No one can know about me.” What exactly he is talking about, we don’t know. However, some of it appears to involve a vault that he and his assistant Nardole (Matt Lucas) are trying to either access, or safeguard.
After two Christmas specials to his name, Nardole is upgraded to full-time companion, a valet of sorts to the Doctor. The character didn’t excite me too much in the Christmas Specials, but in “The Pilot,” Nardole really stood out. He has some great one liners, and he seemed genuinely concerned for Bill.
The creature we meet in this episode wasn’t exactly evil, so much as misunderstood. And unless I missed it, we don’t even know what to call the liquefied, sentient shape-shifting, time-traveling goo that appears first as a puddle which incorrectly reflected a person’s image. But I did like how they incorporated the character of Heather (Stephanie Hyam), a restless soul who found the ultimate escape.
Whatever this season’s big mystery is wasn’t revealed in this episode. But I’m okay with that because it was refreshing to have a stand alone episode. For once, I felt “Doctor Who” gave us a complete story in one night, and that’s a very good thing. And it was nice to see the Doctor having some fun again, even if he sometimes looks like a penguin with his ass on fire. All in all, “The Pilot” was a fun start to what I hope will be a classic “Doctor Who” season.
“The Pilot” finals score: A
“Doctor Who” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America.