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Doctor Who 10-01 The Pilot

After what seems like an eternity, Doctor Who has finally returned. Season ten (of the reboot, there's been more than ten Doctors (and the 4th did seven seasons alone), it's a weird British timey-wimey thing - it's actually the 36th season!) gives us the final performances of Peter Capaldi as the titular character, and Steve Moffat as the writer.

Let's get the elephant out of the room first. Here is the new companion:


[all screenshots taken from a recording of BBC ONE broadcast]
She's a somewhat mouthy dinner lady (Rose Tyler, anyone?) who attends some of the lectures. Her hair is...interesting. Wasn't that a thing when I was a toddler? And her crush is:

Yup, the new companion, going by the masculine name of Bill, is gay. Something that is laid out in the first minute of dialogue. Okay, she's interested in other girls. Let's hope and pray that this character development is left like that - that the programme doesn't fall into the comical sex-romp-farce that blighted Torchwood, namely the propensity of the main cast to engage in all manner of relationship triangles, and Captain Jack to engage in relationships with all manner of lifeforms? Come on, it's a sci-fi programme, let's just accept that Bill is gay and leave it at that.

Though, that said, those people lauding the introduction of a lesbian main character and its depiction of real people might like to consider three things...
Firstly, the other main character is a many-thousands-of-years-old time travelling alien that has a fondness for humans and a habit of changing body.
Why is a lesbian so often described as LBGTQWERTY etc etc? Isn't that very classification reducing a variety of sexual preferences into an "everything else" (non-"normal") category? Why can't a lesbian just be that?
And anyway, isn't girl-on-girl action mostly a thing to pander to sexually deprived men?

Moooooving swiftly on, the episode opens with The Doctor being a long term professor at Bristol University (it's Cardiff, of course), there are poignant photos on the table (Susan from the original first series in 1963, and River Song from more recently) and a bunch of sonic screwdrivers in a mug, like most people might do with pens. Unfortunately, the incredibly annoying Nardole (Matt Lucas) is still around.

A tiny aside to note that it is possible that Bill is named in reference to William Hartnell, the First Doctor. Note that the love interest is called Heather, the name of Hartnell's wife and also his daughter. That can't have been mere coincidence.

Now while Clara might have been extremely pretty and very good in a tight jumper, she always was a bit uptight. Not so with Bill, who describes The Doctor's running as like a penguin with its ass on fire. Upon being shown the TARDIS, she's like "wow" thinking it's some sort of weird knock-through kitchen before commenting what happened with the doors, did you run out of money?. It takes her a long time to do the "it's bigger on the inside" part, something brilliantly lampshaded by Doctor and Nardole, twice.

The story? Well, something Doctor Who is quite good at is making normal mundane things seem scary. Children. Cement statues. Metal blokes with handles on their heads. And this time, acting as an homage to reams of Japanese cinema, is a sci-fi twist on the classic dead wet girl:

The special effects of the water transformation are a bit ropey, but basically we are supposed to fear a roving puddle. Like something right out of Dark Water.

Pity the actress that would have had water dumped on her non-stop for a good chunk of the story. Though it seems as if she single-handedly (and without a weapon) took out a Dalek, which makes her pretty badass.

Dalek? Yeah. That didn't make a lot of sense, but no matter, the story was a bit weak on plot and logic (even by Who standards) but made up for it with a better connection between The Doctor and his associate than the painful first series with Clara and Capaldi - they didn't seem to click in quite the same way Bill has - though I wonder if shoddy writing was a factor here as it seems the whole "Impossible Girl" thing was entirely squandered and Clara more or less had to be a different character every week. But, best yet, it looks like Capaldi, in his final season, is maturing into the role and absolutely channelling Tom Baker. I shall await the arrival of a pack of jelly babies...

 

Next week - emoji face robots. You want to facepalm at the silliness, until you're like "hang on, why hasn't somebody done this before?".

 

 

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Last read at 20:41 on 2017/11/19.

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