Saturday, 15 April 2017

Who Runs Like A Penguin With His Arse On Fire

Time for more running away from scary monsters methinks.

Warning: Some mild spoilers ahead.

Everyones favourite Time Lord is back and since his near year long absence he has found himself working as a University lecturer when he isn't busy rocking out on guitar in his office and protecting a typically mysterious vault in the bowels of the campus.

An inquisitive young woman who works in the canteen Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) gets his attention and before you can say "It's bigger on the inside" a new time and space traveling companion is found.

It hasn't been the easiest few years being a Doctor Who fan. The show hasn't been firing on all its cylinders for quite some time yet there isn't another series that I find myself as hopeful and expectant each and every episode to be good if not great. I'd never call myself an optimist but with Who I'll make an exception.

Episode One The Pilot written by Steve Moffat and directed by Lawrence Gough is the beginning of the end of Capaldi's tenure as The Doctor and Moffat's reign as show runner. Yet with the introduction of a new partner in crime this episode is also a sorta kinda reboot of the show. Which it sorta kinda definitely needed.

The plot on the surface is a rather run of the mill tale of a mysterious liquid based lifeform that devours one of Bill's acquaintances and chases Bill and her new found TARDIS chums in a presumably murder, death, kill way. It also feels oddly familiar using elements seen previously in The Waters of Mars, Midnight and more.

However the point of The Pilot isn't about the big bad of the week it is about setting up who Bill is, everything else, Doctor included, is secondary. Of course the now traditional introduction to the small blue box is given another spin. The Doctor's big and bold "Science beyond Magic" monologue is nipped swiftly in the bud with Bill asking to "Go to the toilet". Nicely bursting the bubble of the scene before it's grandeur got too grand for itself.

Mackie has all the qualities expected of a Nu-Who companion. Smart, witty, able to give a good scared face and bounces off well with whomever is holding the sonic screwdriver. Bill is a modern character more from the mould of Rose Tyler but with better awareness of science fiction tropes and a Netflix account. It returns the dynamic back to the good ole days where the companion wasn't quite as knowing about The Doctor and his ways but is also able to call him out on things.

Also if anyone has a problem with a gay character being front and centre in a show featuring laser firing pepperpots and whatnot really needs to sort out their priorities in life. This is a show that should be speaking to an audience that wants to see themselves reflected on screen in some way or form. It is quite literally about frickin' time too.

Obviously things are a smidge different with the duo's dynamic as Matt Lucas's Nardole is also joining in the fun and frolics and mixing it up a little making a Trio of Travelers of Space and Time. Hopefully his addition will be more than mere comic relief no matter how funny the odd bit of toilet based humour can be.

Where the introductory episode works is in how it deals with establishing Bill and what makes her tick. A simple crush on a girl causes ripples that will likely affect the likable characters story arc this series. Where it fails is the fan service inclusion of the Daleks. Seriously can we just give these big bads a break this series and get on with new, fresh and ideally more interesting threats?

Typically of Moffat there are questions and plot threads dangled at the start of things that will ideally lead towards satisfying answers and all that malarkey. If not I expect I'll end up bitching about them here over the next few months dear reader yet I for some strange if slightly deluded way still remain optimistic...

In conclusion, a nice if slightly unremarkable start but saved by adding a character that should be a breath of fresh air for Capadi's final hurrah.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with this review and add that it is refreshing to remove the Doctor love interest aspect from the mix; it has been a feature for far too long and got extremely boring. It is also really nice to not have an instantly all knowing companion that is there to help the Doctor using tech that they can’t have gained enough knowledge of as well as a general, from nowhere, bad ass fighting prowess. I have high hopes for the series and am keeping everything crossed that I will not feel let down.