There has always been a high level of anticipation when a new season of Doctor Who arrives. It’s a testament to the longevity of one of the UK’s most enduring serial dramas to continually “regenerate” itself and maintain firmly placed in Popular Culture’s fickle zeitgeist.
That being said, Jodie Whittaker’s opening salvo as the eponymous Time Lord has generated such frenzy that the anticipation has surpassed almost anything prior to this. People otherwise indignant toward the show have suddenly popped their heads up and given it the time of day it rightfully deserves.
So, was it worth the hype?
In short, YES!
“The Woman Who Fell To Earth” was more than just a passing of the torch between Doctors. The previous showrunner, Steven Moffat also vacated his position at Christmas last year, leaving Broadchurch helmer, Chris Chibnall to assume to role of ward for the franchise.
Much like “Eleventh Hour”, this introduction felt much greater than just a story about Bambi learning to walk. Elements such as tone, characters, location, and scale had to be introduced while maintaining the awe and wonder we’ve come to expect from previous iterations.
Set in Sheffield, Yorkshire, Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), Grandmother Grace (Sharon D. Clarke) and her husband Graham (Bradley Walsh) are living their lives as they would in any ordinary day. Ryan, a sufferer of Dyspraxia, is trying to learn to ride a bike for what seems to be the 100th time. After hurling the bicycle into the woods below, he discovers a peculiar looking sequence of lights setting a chain of events into sequence that’ll affect the lives of all of those listed above.
After a series of strange occurrences, Whittaker literally crashes on to the screen fresh from her regeneration during Twice Upon a Time to triumphantly begin her journey from Peter Capaldi’s stoic Scotsman.
This is where the story ramps up its intensity. Unlike seasons prior, the darker tone created a greater sensation of dread as the episode built. The decision to focus on a more grounded story for this opener allowed the characters to maintain focus without losing the typical intergalactic wonder.
Furthermore, the chemistry between cast members portrayed an enjoyable atmosphere on screen that felt less of a bright light drawing adventurous moths toward its glow, and more of the naive traveler we are expected to believe The Doctor is. Her sheer enthusiasm and energy are enough to guide any misaligned person down a path of unparalleled excitement.
The only gripe would be The Doctor’s sudden ability to forge a brand new Sonic Screwdriver considering she couldn’t remember her own name just 10 minutes ago. Clearly, it was just to give the Sheffield, England’s Steel City, a nice little pop at the time.
Overall, “The Woman That Fell to Earth” is everything an episode of Doctor Who could ever want to be. With its frenetic pace, somewhat ludicrous antagonist (a blue Predator ripoff that sticks molars to his face. Really?!), captivating visual effects and eye-popping cinematography, those that doubted the ability of a woman to adopt the mantle of Time Lord can find themselves firmly silenced.