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So, the big questions are, was Jodie any good, and is the character still the Doctor we know and love?

Well yes, she hit the ground running and yes, we got the same resourceful, scatter brained, authoritative Doctor that we ever had – now with added Sheffield Steel.

If you want to know more, for a review of "The Woman Who Fell To Earth" without any significant plot spoilers, read on...

The first thing you note is a change in visual tone, this somehow seems darker and grittier than Davies and Moffat’s eras. Whilst both predecessors still sat in the palette of the real world, Chibnall seems to have buffed some of the showroom shine off things, in a similar way to Star Wars.

This is added to by location, moving to Sheffield and surrounds gives a bit of a break from everywhere looking looking like Cardiff, and of course it appeals to me because it’s on my doorstep. My local Ice Hockey team being Sheffield Steelers, I find myself in Sheffield quite a bit.

Then there’s the music, no orchestra this time, new composer Segun Akinola has gone for more of a sound design approach, with great use of electronic sounds and pads for a much more atmospheric approach than the more traditional themes, and melodies that came before. There’s a certain amount of Radiophonic feel going off in there, much closer to the show’s historic roots.

Though after you’ve been watching for a while, you might notice an absence of theme tune, or titles. That’s because once the show starts, there isn’t really a good break point, but don’t despair, you do get the theme at the end, and you do get the tiniest teaser of the theme as the Doctor literally drops into the action at around 9 minutes into the show.

Just like Matt Smith did in Eleventh Hour, Jodie Whittaker hits the ground running, quite literally, straight into the job of saving the Earth. She takes control of the scene both in story and in the context of acting, straight away you see she’s both her own Doctor, and has hints of previous incarnations, with a hint of Eleven within her first minute on screen and managing to squeeze in a trademark Doctor phrase “I’ll tell you later” right up front.

Throughout the course of the first episode we see the usual scatter-brained Doctor, the action Doctor, the knowledgeable Doctor and the inventive, almost Macgyver Doctor, as she has to make up for her missing sonic screwdriver by making a new one. Not from a kettle and piece of string, but from spoons. The look on her face when she found the spoon was a beautiful call back to the Seventh – I’m sure Sylvester would approve.

It was nice to see that instead of being incapacitated by regeneration as some predecessors had been, with Thirteen it shows as not knowing who she is, and what she can do. Trying to find what it is she’s good at along the way “I could build one, I’m good at building things – probably”

I’ve got to say knowing that the new sonic has added Sheffield Steel, appeals to me as a Sheffield Steelers fan, though US Hockey fans should also note that the Stanley Cup also has added Sheffield Steel.

I know when Jodie was cast there was great concern that somehow her gender would change the character, but after watching the first episode, except for two humorous scenes, the entire script could so easily have been played by a man without any changes. In fact, some of her predecessors might have thought twice about some of the action sequences in this story.

This is definitely the same Doctor we have watched since Hartnell, same moral compass, same making it up as she goes along. Only difference I can see is the use of pronouns. The character is safe in Whittakers hands.

That’s not to say everything is perfect in this episode, in places the companion’s dialogue is a little clunky or cheesy, but then this is new writing for new characters, as the actors inhabit the roles this should get better.

Also, in the realms of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, whilst you can suspend disbelief for the fantasy elements, the real-world stuff MUST make sense or it drags you out of the story. At the beginning there’s a scene where Ryan throws a bike down a hill, but in the next scene it’s up a tree in the middle of a wood, that and the location didn’t feel like it was at the bottom of that hill. In the shot just after he threw it you could see it wasn’t a sheer cliff, so he’d need to be a champion hammer thrower to reach the trees, it just felt wrong.

There was another scene in a crane yard, working in the dark in high winds (which they went out of their way to show you wind speed), they just wouldn’t be working in those conditions, and there didn't seem to be anything for the crane to be doing. Again this started to pull you out of the drama. I think Chris needs to think a little bit harder about making the real-world elements make sense.

But then you reach the new theme tune – wow! Gone is the orchestral arrangement, and we’re back to more electronica, much closer to the original. Though I have to say either the equalisation, or the levels of the bass and rhythm parts could do with a little tweaking, as they get a little lost in the mix in places. But that may be just first impressions and I suspect I’ll grow into the mix.
Comments (3)
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Oct 24, 2018
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