The wait for the new series of Doctor Who seemed to last forever, but by gosh it was worth it!
“The Woman Who Fell to Earth” started out quiet. In fact, with the YouTube framing, I actually wondered if it were a trailer for something else! We’re introduced to Ryan, Graham and Grace, the latter two teaching the dyspraxic Ryan how to ride a bicycle. Fans with the condition came out on Twitter in force to praise Tosin Cole’s performance.
Well #DoctorWho you absolutely rock. Particularly like the well considered portrayal of #dyspraxia
the frustration, self esteem and the strengths. Looking forward to how Ryan develops as a character. Jodie Whittaker is superb in confidence and presence.
— Becki Morris (@BecksM36) October 7, 2018
The action, such as it is, then switches to a Sheffield street where trainee WPC Yaz is trying to calm a minor dispute. She wants a call that’ll challenge her, and ends up sent to the woods where Ryan found what appeared to be a giant seed pod. Meanwhile Grace and Graham are on a train when it crashes into something which then attacks the passengers. The Doctor then drops into the scene.
I really loved the way the story unfolded. The slow pace allowed us to get to know the characters and get a feel for Sheffield, which was treated almost as another character itself. I liked Yaz challenging the Doctor about who was in charge, and how Graham was annoyed at being the only person questioning anything.
Bradley Walsh’s signing did make me raise my eyebrows, but having since Catherine Tate knock her performance out of the park, I chose to withhold judgement. His first scene was barely halfway through when I realised he was absolutely perfect for the role of Ryan’s step granddad.
The Doctor, though confused, is played brilliantly by Jodie. I loved how hands-on she was – building her sonic screwdriver and the transporter so she could reach the TARDIS – and the glimmers of previous incarnations, while making the role all her own.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall promised all new enemies, and the Predator-esque Tzim Sha was certainly new and quite scary with his face of teeth and merciless hunting. But where there’s a touch of horror in Doctor Who there tends to be an injection of humour and the Doctor repeatedly calling him “Tim Shaw” filled that element hysterically.
I, along with several others, was saddened by the killing off of Grace, especially with her being Black – people of colour are often the first casualties in TV dramas. I might have understood it more had her character been trailing behind along with Walsh’s, but she was very eager to get involved. On the other hand, her being a nurse does go some way to making her actions understandable, if not her death.
The other quibble I have is over the theme. Now it might just be my laptop, but the drum beat seemed too dominate and it unbalanced the tune. It’ll probably grow on me, given how old school it is. Talking of old school, I nearly screamed at the titles. They are glorious. I also liked the sneak preview / name check of upcoming actors. The diversity of the series did softened the blow of Grace.
And that cliffhanger! I like how Chibnall wrapped up the story yet still gave a lead into next week. I hope he keeps this up, so the episodes have a seamless feel without necessarily relating directly.