Doctor Who has to live in a cleverly ambiguous spot between anarchic children’s television and serious drama. Often co-opting aspects of horror while deliberately undermining that drama with a central character who is essentially immune to the monstrous, the latest season/reboot places itself in this crossroads. Tentacles, a face full of teeth, dark things on a train make up the furniture for a story centred on a silly person that’s fallen out of their ride home.
The sci-fi plot is essentially a Torchwood episode transported from Cardiff to Sheffield and that’s fine. I like Sheffield, it’s one of my favourite cities and certainly deserves defending from alien invasion by the Doctor. Rising up above the science-fiction elements is the four human characters who become embroiled in the alien plot. Bringing in a broader range of companions is a promising move for the new series.
Jodie Whittaker is placed in that unenviable position of having to play the Doctor more as an impression of previous Doctors but she does it with a comic flair that is convincing and charming in equal measure. It’ always a mistake to judge what a given Doctor will be like from their first story but Whittaker grabs the role with a lot of confidence. She’s aided here with this new season being a stronger reboot of the veteran TV show than the last regeneration. She’s clearly enjoying the role
There’s other stuff that I’m still unpacking but overall it was an entertaining hour of television. Not a particularly remarkable Doctor Who story when separated from its role introducing a new cast of characters but easily as strong as Ecclestone’s, Smith’s and Capaldi’s first stories. Now I’m off to read other reviews that I’d been avoiding!