Doctor Who Series 10 Episode 1: The Pilot Review

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Hey friends! Spoilers ahead. So I did a review of The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar from Series 9 and had the intention of reviewing the whole series. But Matt and I ended up not even watching the whole thing because it was so bad. We've since watched it and we were correct about it being terrible. Except for Heaven Sent. That was a brilliant episode. However, we decided to give it another shot, and oh man, am I glad I did.

So first things first, Bill Potts! Oh Bill Potts, how you have warmed my cold, deadened heart. For so long, Doctor Who did not feel like Doctor Who. Clara, aka, Manic Pixie Dream Girl With Not A Drop Of Personality had ruined the show. A lot of that was terrible writing and some of that was just bad acting. But Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts has totally refreshed Doctor Who. I was straight away drawn into her character. She was brilliant! When she finds out about the pictures of her mum I was genuinely close to tears; that was fifteen minutes into the episode! I've never warmed to a companion so fast. And you know the amazing thing that Pearl Mackie did? She made Peter Capaldi shine! I've never felt strongly towards Capaldi. I thought he'd got a really bad deal with his run of Doctor Who. He was never characterised consistently and I think he was never really able to reach his potential. But the chemistry, the teacher/pupil relationship (that was not at all forced like it was with Clara and the Doctor) just worked between the Doctor and Bill. It was an actual pleasure to watch.

I love the fact that Bill is gay. I really do. I think it's done very well in the episode. However I do have a problem with Moffat's writing and it's a problem I've had before in the form of the lizard woman and her wife. Moffat just really likes to bring up that the characters are gay. Matt and I have a running joke about just how many times one of the lesbians mentions that the other woman is her wife. In this episode, the plot literally revolves around Bill being gay and Bill's first story is about a beautiful girl she serves chips to. At this point, we know she's gay. But then later her foster mother tells her to "keep her eye on men". In response, Bill mutters, "men aren't where I keep my eye actually". This line just felt like a little too much. It's obviously a very small problem though.

People in reviews have already pointed out how the name kind of signals a new beginning in Doctor Who. And it felt like that. It felt like the start of a Doctor Who people can watch again. It's no longer wrapped up in the crack-in-the-wall, Silence, Galifray storyline that it was spanned all of Matt Smith's series and Capaldi's too. The River Song story line is also finished and it was actually quite a nice touch that he has her picture on the desk. This episode also felt like a summary of all the series gone by. You don't need to watch older episodes to understand this episode because its in there. We see the Daleks, and Bill, the audience stand-in asks "what's a Dalek?". The Doctor simply says, "Nevermind. It's a Dalek", which I love. There's no use explaining what a Dalek is. Most people know their long complex history and the kids who don't can probably guess they're the baddies. This is what the whole episode felt like. It treated you like intelligent people, assuming that you know enough of the history.

It also felt like there were a lot of references in there, most of which I won't get because I'm neither very well film-versed or old-Doctor-Who-versed. But it felt like it was referencing Waters of Mars with the villain and elements of Midnight too. And I feel like there was a reference to Utopia? The Doctor and Bill go to the end of the universe and it looks a lot like the last planet in the universe from Utopia. Bill asks what the sky is made of there and it kind of feels like a callback to the kid Creet, who says that "the sky is made of diamonds". The Doctor says it's lemon drops though so maybe it's a coincidence. 

This episode I imagine was terrifying for children because it was scary to me. I don't remember the last time Doctor Who scared me. Maybe the Waters of Mars episode (which makes sense that this one would) and before that, perhaps Silence in the Library. But I don't remember being this frightened. At points, this episode felt like a horror movie. Both Matt and I jumped at the part where Bill is looking into a puddle at Heather and Heather grabs Bill. 

Obviously nothing is ever perfect and certainly never a Steven Moffat episode of Doctor Who. Steven, if you're reading this, why the hell is Nardole in this episode? Seriously. There is literally no point to this character. Everything he said could of come out of the Doctor's mouth. There's enough chemistry and humour between the Doctor and Bill. We don't need him. He's annoying at best, and downright cringy at worst. Maybe there will be a point to him but I highly doubt it. It was reassuring to see that he was only in one shot of the Coming Soon trailer. 

And another issue I had with this episode is fat phobia. Now I don't want to turn this review into a discussion of fatphobia but I had a problem with Bill's story about feeding the girl she fancied chips and then all of a sudden realising she'd "fatted her". She then says "that's or chips". It shouldn't need saying but here goes anyway, "YOU CAN BE BEAUTIFUL AND FAT. THE TWO ARE NOT ANTONYMOUS". 

Anyway, problems aside, this was a genuinely enjoyable, frightening and an engaging episode of Doctor Who.

Favourite Quote: "What in the end, are any of us looking for? We're looking for someone who's looking for us".


Thanks for reading!

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