The third episode of Doctor Who series 12, Orphan 55, has turned out to be a divisive one among fandom. Some of us love it, some of us loathe it – like marmite, but with added space adventures. The only thing we can all agree on is how iconic the line ‘BENNI!’ is. In order to cover all sides of the story, we present to you; Time Ladies Debate: Orphan 55!
ORPHAN 55? NOT FOR ME… says Kez
In some ways, Orphan 55 is the very essence of Doctor Who – a base siege, a chase, a threatening monster… but it never truly landed for me. The first scenes of the fam landing at the plush spacey spa were brilliant – the pace from Spyfall was still there, as was sustaining the brilliant wit from the leading characters. I was overjoyed at the mental imagery being conjured of Graham lounging with a cocktail, and them all taking a damn break after wrestling with a deep-space squid, well deserved.
As in the series opener, the fam were expertly split off from each other, primed for different versions of the adventure. But alas, were (literally) crammed together again for large parts of the story, a massively missed opportunity. Talk about three being a crowd – when you have a main cast of four, adding another seven (!) onto that means that frankly, we’re not going to have time to become emotionally invested in these guest characters. You could barely keep track of who was there, who had died and who was left behind. Something that really highlighted this for me was the use of sacrifice in this story – something that should hold such impact – a total stranger giving their life for the Doctor and their friends. But this was done four times in one story. When we don’t have time to become invested in these characters, we probably care little when they die, let alone when it becomes a ‘thing’ that happens.
This need for sacrifice feels like it’s there to create peaks in a story that fundamentally is a constant chase. A chase that, instead of thrilling, completely flatlines when they leave the building. After the pacey beginning, where was the push and pull from each side? When the Doctor looked into the mind of the Dregs, she could see the terrifying reality of who they were. But why did we not have the opportunity to learn about this further, to hear about what happened, and how to help them now? Leaving the planet with no resolution apart from ‘hoping it’s just one possible future’ felt like they were running away from the problem rather than facing what had been done. Climate change is a real terror, it’s not something we can run away from. It felt callous and abrupt to simply leave it there.
I admit that as someone who was completely transfixed by the end of Spyfall, I may have been a little disappointed by the drop in focus. But a story centred around such an important message? It could have been better.
ORPHAN 55? THE BEST OF SERIES 12 SO FAR… says Beth
Orphan 55 captures many aspects of my favourite parts of Doctor Who; Action. Adventure. Love. Danger. An important message. There are many layers and characters woven throughout the Tranquillity Spa – something I believe works well to establish the world we’re immersed in. Thanks to Ed Hime’s brilliant characterisation, everybody has a personality and a reason to root for them. Then there are the dregs, some of the scariest and well-designed Doctor Who creatures for a while. Not only do they look incredible, but the truth behind their existence is even more gruesome and hammers home the message of the tale. It’s great to see the Doctor teaching her friends too – even though she’s suffering. It’s particularly interesting to see the fam’s relationship changing out of mistrust and the Doctor’s sorrow, which ties in brilliantly to the storyline.
The truth of Orphan 55 is hidden inside a wrapper of capitalism and human fault – the planet is Earth’s future and the dregs are the human race, evolved and terrifying. This is the type of plot that Doctor Who was made for. In a similar vein to The Green Death, it educates and opens the mind to the climate crisis as well as providing fun and escapism on a Sunday night. There is a positive to come out of such an on the nose message. Because even though Doctor Who is an escape, a place to disappear away from the terrors of our world, it is also a reminder that we can be better and that we should be better – and that’s the most positive thing of all – that we still have hope. As the Doctor tells us at the end of the adventure; ‘Be the best of humanity.’ Hopefully, we won’t let her down.
After we discussed the story, we decided to put our differences aside and have a custard cream and a cup of tea. After all, Doctor Who is vast and complicated and beautiful – we won’t always love it or hate it!
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After a year’s wait, Doctor Who finally returned to our screens last week in the huge Series 12 opener, Spyfall. The two-part story exploded with twists and turns that took our breath away – leaving us with a whirlwind of questions and ponderings. The Kasaavin! The Master! Gallifrey! It’s more excitement than a Time Lady can handle. There are five main things we’ve managed to get our brains around and thoughts down, but a million more questions inside each one…
Who are the Kasaavin?
The Doctor managed to stop the Kasaavin and their evil plan to upgrade human beings by travelling back in time and planting a virus in their tech. But just who are the Kasaavin? We know from what we’ve seen so far that the creatures are ‘alien spies’ who have been collecting information on the human race, but is there more to them than we’ve seen in Spyfall? We aren’t sure what they truly look like or the real reason they appear the way they do. Plus, their plan to upgrade and make humans better all seems a bit… Cybermen. We know the Doctor’s deadly foes are returning later this series (as seen in the S12 trailer) – could they be in on the plan too? We’re intrigued and hope series 12 expands more on these deadly villains.
Barton also nips off to an unknown location, leaving us questioning what became of him. As seen on the scanner in Part 1, He isn’t 100% human – so what is the other 7%? Will he stay in league with the Kasaavin? Where has he disappeared to?So many questions!
What happened to Yaz?
Poor Yaz got zapped to the Kasaavin dimension during Spyfall Part One. The next time we see her, she is transported to Australia where the Doctor, Graham, and O are investigating – but what happened to her, and why was she taken? It’s unclear why she was moved between the dimensions and if anything significant happened to her there. She is visibly shaken and distraught from the experience, even telling Ryan she thought she was dead. It seems like something deeper might be going on here and that Yaz might not be the same person who went into Barton’s office.
Building on this, the Master pays significant attention to her and tells her to stick with him. This could just be his way of messing with the Doctor by teasing her friends – or perhaps something more is going on with the pair since we are unaware of what happened to Yaz in the Kasaavin dimension. One thing seems clear though; Yasmin Khan has been through a lot – who knows where her character arc will go next?
Who is the Timeless Child?
The Timeless Child was first mentioned in The Ghost Monument (2018). Surrounding the Doctor and the gang, the deadly shrouds hissed at the Doctor; ‘We see deeper though. Further back – the Timeless Child.’ At the time, none of us were sure if it was a hint at a story arc or just a throw-away line, but it looks like Chibnall has been planning this one for a while. At the end of Spyfall, The Master tells the Doctor that he destroyed Gallifrey because the Time Lords lied to them; ‘built on the lie of the Timeless Child.’
Who is the Timeless Child? What is the lie surrounding them? Will we find out this series?
Will the fam ever truly know the Doctor?
During Spyfall, we see Yaz, Ryan, and Graham split up from the Doctor. Of course, a returning villain like the Master brings up LOADS of questions and the fam realise the absence of knowledge about their friend. At the end of the adventure, Graham asks, ‘Why don’t you ever share anything with us?’ Rightly pointing out that she knows everything about her TARDIS team but they don’t know much about her at all. She reveals where she’s from and the name of her race, telling her friends who the Master really is. But will their relationships be affected by how little they know about her? It seems like the lack of trust may be a continuing plot thread in this series, and we are very intrigued by this deeper look into the Doctor and her companions.
What will the Master do next?
The biggest surprise of Spyfall has to be the return of the Master… seriously, who was expecting that?! Played by the incredible Sacha Dhawan, the Master disguised himself as agent ‘O’ in order to fool the Doctor and help the Kasaavin with their plan. Hell-bent on killing the Doctor and her friends, he puts them on a crashing plane with a bomb in the front seat. Of course, the Doctor isn’t letting her fam die in a hurry and manages to save them from their impending death. The Master follows the Doctor through time, trying to track her down and end her once and for all; even having time for a deep chat on the Eiffel Tower. Good will always win out though, and when the Kasaavin hear the truth of the Master’s plan they disappear to their realm, taking him with them. What will the Master do next? Will he be stuck there? If the Gallifrey storyline continues, we’re bound to see him pop up again…
What did you think of Spyfall? Do you have any other questions or theories? Let us know via Twitter, Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you celebrate it or not, Christmas is a special holiday for many. It’s a time of rest and giving, for spending with family and loved ones… and for watching Doctor Who. Tradition is important during the festive period and Doctor Who on Christmas day has become just that for many families. Since The Doctor and Rose saved the Earth during Christmas 2005, we’ve been treated to a special festive episode every year.
Taking the prime time evening slot, families would sit down together filled with mince pies and turkey and enjoy an adventure through space and time. This year though, Doctor Who is embarking on a new tradition – the yearly special episode has been moved to New Year’s Day instead of Christmas.
Christmas can be difficult if you’ve lost someone. It can be difficult if you suffer with mental health struggles or family issues. Throughout all of my Christmases, and all of these difficulties, I’ve always been comforted by the Doctor Who Christmas special. It has been there to wrap its arms around me and tell me I’m not alone. It’s taken me on adventures and helped me escape when I’ve found the festive period hard.
No matter the contents of the story, the Christmas episodes are always based around one core theme: hope. This is exactly what I and many others need during the holidays, particularly on the big day itself. I spent Christmas day sick and alone, and I really could have done with that Doctor Who episode this year. Somehow I’ve been left feeling like my hope was taken away, or my only saviour around Christmas time had let me down. That is the importance of this show to me and many others.
In times like this, it’s easy to get upset with how the show changes when it means so much to us, or when things differ from its traditional way. But Doctor Who has lasted for 55 years for a reason – it thrives on change. In the words of the Doctor, ‘If things didn’t end, nothing would ever get started.’
Despite my feelings, I am very excited for a brand new adventure with team TARDIS on New Year’s Day. What better way to begin a new year than with my favourite form of hope – Doctor Who! Christmas may have been hard without it, but January will be much easier with it.
Am I upset with the lack of Who on Christmas day? Yes. But times change, and so must Who. We will begin 2019 with The Doctor and friends taking us on a brand new adventure. So begins a new tradition – New year, new Who.
What do you think of the move from Christmas day to New year’s day? Let us know @thetimeladies_
There is no doubt that the Punjab of 1947 was populated with far more than its fair share of demons, and did not need any alien assassins to help with the bloodshed. And yet, I was afraid that might be where the plotline of Demons of the Punjab was headed. But the writers of Doctor Who have yet again managed to pleasantly surprise me and I could not be more relieved. Not only has Vinay Patel managed to depict the atrocities of Partition through a heartbreakingly poignant script, but also introduced us to one of the most compassionate species of the Who universe, the Thijarians.
Team TARDIS lands in 1947 Punjab to witness the wedding of Yasmin’s grandmother, Umbreen. Only Umbreen isn’t getting married to Yaz’s Muslim grandfather, but a Hindu man – Prem, that she has never told her granddaughter about before. Yaz is filled with confusion and injured feelings for having been kept in the dark about such a crucial fact. But in walking away from his murder at the end of the episode, Yaz shows the inner strength and maturity of her character. Perhaps Prem’s sacrifice and her newfound understanding of love might act as inspiration for her somewhere down the line as she travels with the Doctor. But more importantly, she finally understands her heritage and the importance of the distinctiveness of her identity in modern-day Sheffield. This all harps back to the ‘demons’ that had ‘cursed’ the days and the land her grandmother had escaped from.
Perhaps the most striking part of this predominantly historical episode, apart from the stunning set location, is the dynamic and shifting definition of the ‘demon’. Umbreen’s mother, in the characteristically superstitious words of a rustic Punjabi woman, is the first to call the alien a demon. But while the Thijarians, in the beginning, seem like the perfect cooking pot of all the villainous ingredients of a typical Doctor Who episode, it is somewhere else that the true evil lies. Even the Thijarians are only there to witness the consequences of that evil.
Is the demon really Manish who kills his own elder brother, Prem, for marrying a Muslim? Or is the demon inside every one of the mindless mob who is hell-bent on bloodshed? The villains of Partition weren’t always complete strangers. They were very often neighbours, friends and in Prem’s case, family. All the outside world within the episode seems like the enemy, and yet there is no escaping the fact that despite their actions, every single one of the mob is just a human being. In typical Doctor Who style, Demons of the Punjab makes you wonder who the true villain is, and whether they might deserve at least a part of our compassion.
By painting a picture of the oncoming violence and rioting impartially yet solemnly, the show remains respectful of the suffering of countless victims and fills my heart, quite like the Thijarians, with empathy for all those who died without being properly remembered. The Partition of India remained for a long time, an event consciously denied by many. Even for those who went through the confusion and terror of immigration, like my own grandparents did, it was something too traumatic to be shared. Forceful eviction and neighborhood violence are perhaps some of the less darker stories of the times. Partition was more of a civil war, both for and against identity, which cannot easily be depicted on screen. Demons of the Punjab, in that sense, has an even deeper meaning behind its title than most will see. In many ways, this honourable portrayal of such a huge tragedy seems like the final closing of a book that had been open for too long, both in its representation in Doctor Who and in the act of Graham reassuring Prem that he is a “good man”. It seems like the end of a long history of colonial resentment and the beginning of a relationship of newfound trust and respect.
In the midst of this implied violence, Umbreen and Prem’s wedding is one of the most emotional scenes of series 11 so far. It is also a real cultural treat. The Hindu and Muslim rituals blend beautifully into Doctor Who with the Doctor even officiating at the wedding, a golden marigold propped over one ear. Truth be told, they really couldn’t have found anyone better for the job. Traditionally, Hindu weddings are performed by a priest (pundit) or what the Hindus might call a ‘learned man’ and who, really, could be more learned than the Doctor?
The only hiccup for the episode, for me, occurs, when Prem and Umbreen share not just one, but two passionate kisses in the episode right in front of Umbreen’s mother. While this may appear normal on the 21st century television screen, it’s a decidely startling scene for someone like me who grew up in a relatively conservative family in India, aware that gestures of physical affection like this were seldom made in front of family members in the India of 1947. Perhaps the scene may be justified, seeing as how extraordinary the situation was, or maybe there was the need for dramatic impact. But the lack of any reaction whatsoever from the bride’s mother on this open intimacy remains an eyebrow-raising mystery to me.
But overall, the performances of Amita Suman (young Umbreen), Shaheen Khan (Umbreen’s mother), Shane Zaza (Prem) and Hamza Jeetooa (Manish) are exceptionally commendable not just for portraying the complexity of the emotions of their time, but also for managing to retain the distinctive South Asian body language and subtle speech gestures of native Punjabi and Urdu while delivering dialogues in English. The TARDIS translation is apparent throughout, making it a thoroughly enjoyable watch.
Also worth praising is the special score for this episode without which the true essence of the story’s setting would be lost. The Punjabi remix of the Who theme by Segun Akinola is as much a delight to the ears as a dagger to the heart. The deep, resonant notes of Indian classical music and soulful percussions of the tabla, the traditional Indian drums, tie the episode even more profoundly to a nostalgia for the homeland that is at the heart of the tragedy of Partition. It brings back forgotten as well as passed down memories of a time and place we all wish we could go back and save, if only we had a time machine.
Now that The Tsuranga Conundrum has hit our screens, we’re officially half way through series 11 of Doctor Who. We’ve been from Sheffield 2018 to the 67th century – with spiders, spaceships and iconic historical moments in-between. Grab a cuppa and a custard cream as we delve into the beginning of the 13th Doctor’s debut series.
The 13th Doctor – Beth
The 13th Doctor is everything I’d hoped and dreamed that she would be. There was one thing I wanted from Jodie’s performance, and that was for her to feel like the same character I’ve loved for all this time. I wanted 13 to be Doctor-y, and Jodie absolutely hits the nail on the head. A few scenes at the beginning of the series felt slightly out of place to me, as Jodie didn’t seem to play the complicated language convincingly, but as the episodes go on she grasps it more and more. Her comedy and demeanour as the Doctor really feel spot on, and I miss her when the stories end each week. I can’t wait to find out where she’s going this series and to see Jodie play some more big, emotional moments! I’d love to see more character development and emphasis on what traits her Doctor will be remembered for – as well as more wonderful costume variants!
Companions – Kez
So, we have 3 companions in the TARDIS, aka a TEAM! Doesn’t this feel like a long time coming? Now there are more opinions, viewpoints and life experiences that add to every story. Having the age contrast between Graham and the others adds so much more depth and breaks the 2005+ rule of what a permanent companion is: aka an attractive young woman. Having lived a very different life to the others including surviving cancer, it’s given him such a unique view on what he wants the rest of his life to look like, especially without his wife Grace. This is mirrored in Ryan too. The thing I love about Tosin Cole’s performance is the very real bravado from a 19 year old, mixed with a beautiful vulnerability. Ryan’s arguably had alot of the focus so far this series, and I’m enjoying how he’s growing as a person, as he opens up more to Graham, Yaz and most importantly, life as he sees it. He’s already speaking to a disillusioned young male audience who I hope will continue to watch his journey. Yaz is our most under-developed companion, and I’ve been massively frustrated with the lack of who she is – it’s still hanging in the air 6 episodes in! However, with Demons of the Punjab brings more Yaz, and her relationship with her family and heritage. Before series 11 started I was most excited to see the dynamic between a female Doctor and companion, and this one is still developing. I feel like the Doctor has the best on-screen bond with Yaz so far – but is that just me watching two women together? I’m not sure. I’m absolutely loving seeing the three of them react to each other and the Doctor, but I’m not fully sure we know everything about them yet… so bring on the second part of the series.
Episode Quality – Beth
Five episodes in, and the quality of series 11 is high. If we’re talking scripts though, the stories have been consistent in the way that they’re simple, fun Doctor Who plots. The characterisation has been outstanding, as has the acting from our main cast – propelling the episodes from average to brilliant. The general tone and look of the show this year means that this series has quickly become one of my favourites, and I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. I don’t feel there is anything to dislike, but of course that all depends on what you like to get out of an episode of Doctor Who. There are off bits of course, such as awkward acting or non-resolutions to some plot points, but it’s hard to judge until the whole series has aired. Personally, I think these 5 episodes have been some of the highest quality Doctor Who ever, and I can’t wait to see where it is going!
Music – Kez
Segun Akinola’s music pulses and breathes throughout each story, like it’s a living part of the plot. This is so different from Murray Gold’s scores which were beautiful and reverent, but triggered emotion foremost, rather than reflecting the atmosphere of a story. Ambient and subtle in parts, the music from the first half of series 11 has raised the collective heart beat of the UK without us even realising that this is largely down to the score. As well as this, the use of contemporary music in both the promotion of the series and within, like Rise Up by Andra Day used at the end of Rosa blends easily, and makes it feel like Doctor Who has cooly been doing it for decades. What I’m looking forward to though, is that sweeping grandeur during a ‘I am the Doctor’ moment. We’ve had that feeling in the music a couple of times in series 11 but it hasn’t quite left me feeling awe-struck and teary eyed, which is really what I want in those moments (sorry). I can hear the music of each Doctor from 2005+ in my head, and I can’t quite figure out what the Thirteenth Doctor sounds like yet. This is completely a personal opinion since I enjoy openly weeping at Rose’s theme in Doomsday, but I hope we get that feeling again.
Special Effects – Beth
The special effects this series have taken a massive step up from anything that’s come before, taking it into cinematic territory. There’s something so exciting about having such high standard effects on our little old show that is famous for its wobbly sets. A highlight is the wonderful new title sequence that stuns with its purple hues and liquidy textures. Arachnids in the UK gave the vortex a proper appearance as the TARDIS adventures through space and time and we see its true extent – every fan’s dream! the explosions and CGI work brilliantly together to create convincing moments and realistic scenes. I love how the creatures of the series stand up well, from the deadly Remnants in The Ghost Monument, to the giant spiders in Arachnids in the UK.
Storylines – Kez
The stories across series 11 so far have shown a staggering range of pace, location and character. I appreciate that immensely, and no two stories have felt the same, but in the same vein it doesn’t feel that neatly wrapped package of a series I quite want (yet). Of course Doctor Who is about throwing different stories at us, but Rosa felt like a different show to The Tsuranga Conundrum. This, again is a personal opinion and has had no effect on ratings so I’ll take that as me being a perfectionist! There have been some truly beautiful, ‘first in Doctor Who’ moments: watching the Doctor take an emotional step back in Rosa, and being vulnerable with her friends at the end of The Ghost Monument… but balanced with some familiarity: watching Yaz’s relationship with her family and as always, an awful lot of running. Something that’s new as an overall feel is how educational the show is. We’re having history and science lessons each week, with every story showing a strong moral compass and lessons learned. I’m not adverse to this – it’s quite in-your-face but maybe that’s a good thing? It’s only teaching children about being kind and encouraging learning which we can’t really complain about! Character wise, what I’m really hoping for in the second half of series 11 is for our guest cast to be more fleshed out. We need to have time to get to know who they are, so we can empathise with their story. My feel so far is that in each story there have been a few too many people, and that crowding makes each character less significant as a result. More time with these characters please! Chris Chibnall’s show running has so far brought Doctor Who to the forefront of British television, and the stories have brought literally millions of new watchers in. So welcome, new fans!
Monsters and Villains – Beth
We’ve had a whole host of exciting creatures and villains this series so far, and I think they’re all iconic. First up we had the deadly ‘Tim Shaw’ and his face full of teeth – terrifying! His appearance in The Woman Who Fell to Earth was perfect for a series opener and a brilliant first villain for the 13th Doctor to face. My favourite villain however has undoubtedly got to be the Pting from The Tsuranga Conundrum. The adorable creature is original, memorable and fun – something this series needed after the darker villains in Rosa and Arachnids in the UK. Both of those stories featured characters who were morally corrupt and putting others at risk with their close minded, selfish behaviours. They are written brilliantly, and I love that Doctor Who is dealing with bigger, deeper issues, but there’s nothing like a good old alien invasion. Looking forward, I have high hopes that there will be more original aliens and creatures to balance out the moral and educational storytelling that we’re seeing so often this series. Oh, and a Pting plush in time for Christmas please.
Highlights – Kez
As mentioned already, there have been some truly special moments in this series. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that watching Rosa – the whole experience, was pretty amazing. To see Doctor Who tackle these big historical moments so relevant to people’s experiences today, felt really important. Equally, the way that Grace’s death has been handled has been a tough watch but so real. Graham and Ryan’s grief has been tangible throughout the series, and it just makes them more believable. Seeing their reactions when they officially join team TARDIS was so touching, and a real milestone for all their characters, including the Doctor. This time she knows what may happen, this time she makes sure they know, and they do. It was a pillar moment for the Doctor – really challenging the feelings of companions, knowing they may say no. The smaller moments which help define this era are absolute highlights for me: Yaz’s family chat about pakora, Know Me From by Stormzy being played to scare spiders away, Graham moaning about not having time to eat, tea at Yaz’s, the Pting… I could go on. Lastly, a highlight has to be just how amazing this series looks and sounds. Doctor Who has never been so current, and doesn’t feel out of place with shows we’re all watching which have double the budget.
Keep sharing your thoughts about series 11 with us over on Twitter – @thetimeladies_
A real TARDIS, a red carpet entrance and the actual Doctor in the audience… not quite our normal viewing of Doctor Who! No pyjamas or cups of tea in sight.
Before the episode begins, I have a moment of reflection – this is the newest Doctor Who has been since, well arguably Rose. With not just a new Doctor, but new companions, a new showrunner and all-new crew. There will be girls and boys (and awkward 14 year-olds) starting their journey just as I did and falling in love with the show on October 7th, boy is that exciting.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth begins as a slow unfurl into our new reality of the show, something which is quite unexpected. There’s a sense of change coming in every word the characters speak, but we have time as an audience to settle into these new people we’re going to know so well. We live with them for a while, are given small pockets of who they are; and it’s a joy.
The cast, maybe unsurprisingly are what stand head and shoulders above anything else in this first episode from the Thirteenth Doctor. I never had any doubts, but Jodie Whittaker is truly everything that is the Doctor, and everything you want to see from a Doctor in their first episode. Post-regeneration and not quite knowing who she is yet, she knits her own existence together throughout the story, and her new friends seem to weave effortlessly into this recent incarnation, creating new foundations of Doctor.
These companions are never unneeded or in the way – this small gang of surprised humans all have their own skills, attitude and determination to be justified, and the dialogue between them is perfect. A warm, comfortable rhythm of relationships old and new, moulding around the strange situation they find themselves in. Each person is individual and wonderful, and I cannot wait to see more of them.
Jodie’s performance feels both familiar and unrecognisable, which is surely everything a new Doctor should be. In the Twelfth Doctor’s costume, she navigates who or what she is, with the subtlest hints of previous incarnations. Nothing is in-your-face Doctor Who, you just believe instantly that she is the same Time Lord as the one Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker and Matt Smith have played before her. This subtlety that Chris has got down so well means that truly anyone can watch The Woman Who Fell to Earth and not feel left behind. There are no ‘nudge nudge, wink wink’ moments, you simply feel the reverence and respect for the past, but this story is firmly placed in the here and now.
The light and dark in episode one show Chris’s strengths as a writer. It’s a brilliant balance that if gone too far either way would be on the cusp of something not quite right, and yet it oozes confidence in its choices. This is the point where it’s incredibly hard not to spoil anything, but feel reassured that while there are jokes, quips and moments of fun, this is Doctor Who that trusts its audience, whatever age to take it seriously. Scheduling wise, it’s nailed it. This is high-level, beautiful drama and sits proudly as a younger sibling next to the sought after 9pm slot.
This high-level feel is surely largely down to director Jamie Childs whose every shot is like nothing Doctor Who has been before. The impeccable pacing allows for tight shots on characters we would never have had real time to appreciate before; showcasing performance over quick wins, whilst stylistic choices such as the strong depth of field throw a contrast of human and not-so-human into stark horror for viewers.
And what is incredible drama without music? Segun Akinola’s score has a masterful effect on your blood pressure as it marries perfectly with the script and direction. It’s very ambient – contributing to the atmosphere of the story rather than demanding your attention. In this way it’s both humble and exciting, and absolutely what’s best for the show. Although other parts of episode one may not be shouting from the rooftops about its ancestry, Segun’s sampling of Delia Derbyshire’s work is such a treat it almost brings tears to your eyes.
And so we leave it there. The Woman Who Fell to Earth is not nervous or faltering – it crashes into our comfortable world of what we think Doctor Who is and raises the bar of what it could be. It’s slick, fun, warm and scary all at once, with fantastic performances and beautiful direction. We’re absolutely onboard and ready for all the adventures the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends want to take us on.
“I hope it demonstrates everything that you come to love about Doctor Who. There’s fun, there’s monsters, there’s action, adventure and an amazing new Doctor… What we’ve tried to do is show the range of what Doctor Who can do visually, emotionally and geographically through time and space… the whole range of everything.”
– Chris Chibnall at the Q&A event post screening
The Woman Who Fell to Earth will be broadcast on BBC One at 6:45pm, Sunday 7th October.