Doctor Who: The thirteenth doctor played by the energetic and well suited Jodie Whittaker lacks the enrapturing charm and the remarkable storyline it has become famous for. It, however, makes that up with the connected refresh of character that Whittaker plays. Graded as a B on the Indiewire website, the new series, bringing along new companions, a new adventure, a new sonic screwdriver prop, and a promise of new enemies, starts off with a bang. Literally!
The title of the first episode is perfect. Thirteen enters the scene by falling down to Earth from her TARDIS, which is now missing. Suffering from post-regeneration loss of memory, SHE goes on her usual Doctor-like self, refusing to go by the book and calling the authorities about Ryan’s discovery of the alien pod.
What the best part about the first female doctor is perhaps the lack of a conspicuous remark about the same. Asides from two dialogues, thirteen goes on her usual business of “sorting out fair play through the universe” without batting an eyelid. Jodie has played the role brilliantly, with an energy that is reminiscent of Twelve when faced with a conundrum. She channels all that along with bringing in the promised new series. Further, Jodie has now confirmed that the stunts she performed in the episode were her own, including the spine tingling jump from the crane.
The 63 minute run of the episode, a depart from the usual 45 minutes wasn’t enough to lay a solid foundation for the three companions: The dyslexic Ryan, police officer Yaz, and the good old Graham played by Bradley Walsh. The new composer Segun Akinola has stuck to the original theme for now but of course, has re-mastered it. There are indications of a possible future where the score becomes grander, evident in the sonic screwdriver scene, which thirteen makes herself from an unusually well equipped Sheffield garage.
The DIY scene from the garage was worth quite a chuckle, as was thirteen’s sledgehammer action. What we would have loved to see however, was references from the original classic series (anyone miss Venusian Aikido), and a sense of continuity even in a series where each story spans a single episode.
There are of course, questions left answered, like the flat and not-needed scene of jumping from crane to crane, or the lacklustre and Earth bound first adventure. The villain also falls short of the usual Whovian standard and feels commonplace unlike usual Doctor Who villains. However, the Doctor remains the same self. After confronting an alien with the power to melt your DNA, she lets him walk away.
All in all, series 11 gets a lot right and the cliff-hanger ending of the four people accidentally being teleported promises to set the remaining things right. The episode lacks the fantasy and intrigue that has become such an integral part of the show. Jodie does the Doctor’s complex emotional set right, but the script lacks an appeal, that, we feel can be remedied soon in the series as it progresses.