The new season of Doctor Who premiered today. For the first time in the show’s long history, a woman, actress Jodie Whittaker, assumed the role of The Doctor.
I have eagerly anticipated the return of Doctor Who AND this momentous episode when New Who is made even more…new.
As a recap, Doctor Who chronicles the adventures of a time traveling alien who routinely saves the universe. He is particularly fond of Earth and his traveling companions are typically humans. The Doctor, whose name is never revealed, explores time and space in a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) that appears as a blue police box. Looks are deceiving though. This box is a spaceship that is much bigger on the inside.
Peter Capaldi recently stepped down as the 12th Doctor in the rebooted series known as New Who. However this alien with two hearts doesn’t die. He regenerates when he’s near the end of life, assuming a new body and personality while retaining memories. Thus various actors have portrayed the Doctor and continued the series over decades. With Capaldi’s exit, it was time for Doctor number 13.
New Who Has a New Gender
Season 11 opened today with “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. Episode 1 starred Jodie Whittaker, Sharon D. Clarke, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh. Jamie Childs directed the debut by new show runner Chris Chibnall.
Doctor Who airs on Sunday evenings on BBC America, at 8:00 PM Central Standard Time.
In South Yorkshire, mysterious things are occurring. Ryan Sinclair (Cole) discovers a peculiar vessel in the woods. Police officer Yaz Khan (Gill), who responds to his call, happens to be an old school friend. As the two examine the strange craft, Ryan receives a frantic call from his grandmother, Grace (Clarke).
A menacing intruder has boarded the train that Grace and her husband Graham (Walsh) were journeying home in. Locked into the train car, injury or death seems certain…until a woman falls through the ceiling, landing in front of them. Unsure of her name, and dressed in a man’s rumpled suit, the woman (Whittaker) nonetheless quickly takes charge of the situation.
Yaz and Ryan arrive at the stalled train. And an unexpected adventure unfolds that involves not one but two aliens, a newly formed group of allies and a woman who fights to save others while desperately attempting to remember exactly who she is.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth
I watched episode 1 three times today. Rather than reveal much about the story, I’d rather share a few thoughts about this new era in Who and encourage readers to become viewers.
First, well done Chris Chibnall, cast and crew on creating an engaging story as Doctor Who heads in fresh new directions. I enjoyed the cinematic look and feel of this episode. Chris sets the stage for future episodes that will focus a great deal on the human companions who accompany The Doctor. They have interesting stories of their own, these three companions, and the development of their characters is something to look forward to.
Jodie stepped into the role of Doctor and quickly made it hers. Regeneration episodes are always a bit tricky. A beloved actor has just left. A new person assumes the role. It usually takes me several episodes to get in sync with the new Doctor. I caught glimpses of Calpadi’s Doctor in the words and mannerisms of this fresh personality, and that eased the transition for me.
My Doctor Who
Jodie became my Doctor today. Confused initially about who she is, she asks Yaz why she keeps calling her “madam”. When Yaz shares it’s because she’s a woman, The Doctor whirls around and asks, earnestly, “Does it suit me?”
She didn’t asked if it suited the others or if it was okay if she was female. I loved that distinction. It was brilliant.
Jodie was brilliant. By the end of episode one I had embraced the change. I await further episodes and look forward to getting to know all of these new characters. What a great group of companions The Doctor has.
My favorite quote of the night was spoken by The Doctor, as she created her own sonic screwdriver:
“There’s this moment when you are sure you are about to die and then…you are born. It’s terrifying. There are echoes of who I was and this call toward who I am, and I have to hold my nerve and trust all these new instincts and shape myself towards them.”
What a tremendous place to exist in. We can grow into the person we are becoming, without losing who we are. Echoes and a call. Trust.
It’s going to be an amazing season.