After much anticipation, the world was finally introduced to the first female Doctor. And, to the credit of the writers, the Doctor accepts the change and immediately moves on to the action. However, being part of a group that always has an eye on how women are portrayed in the world of popular culture, I couldn’t help but want to add my voice to those discussing this “first” for the Doctor Who franchise.
So, I give you a mini review of the first episode of Season 11’s “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” Buckle up and consider this your spoiler warning.
As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a lot of time spent on the Doctor’s change to a woman. She quite literally drops through the ceiling of a train car and right into the action. She’s the Doctor, there’s a job to do, a situation to figure out, and new companions at the ready. So let’s pretty much get on with it. To be honest, I was a bit relieved that it was handled this way. I personally was a little bit concerned about the Doctor turning into a woman and suddenly going off on this cringe-worthy speech about how it changes nothing and that women are just as capable. And while this is indeed true, I always prefer a character to show this rather than lecture on it…because if I’m going to be frank here, you’re either down with a lady Doctor or you’re not. (Please note: if anyone is reading this and rejects to the idea of the Doctor being played by a woman, you seem to have found yourself in the wrong part of the internet, and you can leave now.)
Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Doctor feels both refreshing and warmly familiar. She plays the part with an almost manic enthusiasm that reminded me of David Tennant’s tenure. She moves fast, takes risks, and does a wonderful job trying to explain things to those around her…all while still trying to figure herself out. In direct contrast to Capaldi’s Doctor, Whittaker’s emotions and empathy for the humans she encounters feel more intimate. She doesn’t brood or scold them like an angry parent. Instead, she is direct, making her connections feel genuine and honest. This Doctor is going to be fun to watch and I’m looking forward to this season more than I had expected to.
I can’t help but mention that while I’m quite pleased with the new Doctor, the episode itself felt pretty standard. It’s a good watch and the new gaggle of companions seem likable enough – even if they chose to kill off Grace, the best of them all. The real weak point in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” was the alien bad guy. The Predator imitation with teeth glued to his face comes off as more funny and eyebrow-raising than actually menacing or threatening. I’m very supportive of the writers choosing to create new threats so the show doesn’t overuse the more classic Whovian villains like the Daleks or Cybermen. That being said, this one certainly felt very lackluster and not creative at all. But hey, at least they tried.
Overall, I feel that this new run of Doctor Who has all the elements it needs to be a very strong season. Let’s just hope for some amazing stand-out episodes that make good use of what’s there. Doctor 13, welcome. We’re quite glad you joined us.
So, have you watched the new premiere yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section below!