Doctor Who: The Pilot

So, I haven’t done any Whovian review in a very long time. First, there were no episodes of Doctor Who in 2016, except for the Christmas Special (which I honestly just found very boring) and second, my enthusiasm has run on an all time low recently. I adored Clara, but I knew that her time had come to an end and I was glad about the way she left the show … but … Capaldi just really isn’t my particular Doctor. I know there are people who love him and that’s great, but I am not one of them. Without Clara by his side, I was worried … but Bill’s character sounded so promising and this was Capaldi’s final run. I just had to do a review for the Season 10 premiere again. I probably even would have had it up on my usual schedule (which is right after it airs in the UK), but my laptop and wifi weren’t really compliant yesterday. Anyway, beware of Spoilers ahead!

What was it about?

The Doctor is under disguise as a professor at some university when Bill Potts, a cafeteria employee, catches his attention. He decides to become her private tutor, not knowing that there is already a space-water-creature following and trying to catch her. A chase through time and space ensues.

My thoughts?

I liked how this episode started out really slow and quiet. Bill is such a strong character from the way she acts to the way she talks, that giving her an action sequence to begin with, would have been too much in my opinion. Instead, we see the Doctor’s office, Nardole (from the 2015 Christmas Special), the TARDIS in the corner and lovely pictures of River and Susan (yes, sometimes even I recognise old Who stuff) on Twelve’s desk. So you get eased into this new setting with a lot of reminders of the past, that’s always a good way to go when you establish the new Doctor/companion dynamic.

With Clara there were hints at her being bisexual, but it was never explicitly said. Now with Bill we have the first openly gay companion (if you discount Captain Jack? I guess he was never a full companion …) and she has two crushes in the first episode. Now this is where things got a little over the top for me. Heather was actual brilliant, stoic, water-creepiness and I get the whole “last conscious thought” thing that kept her tethered to Bill, but since we didn’t get all that much interaction between the two, I wasn’t that emotionally invested in the end. I know that Bill having to let her go was supposed to be really heartbreaking, but  somehow I just didn’t feel that much with them. Even the Doctor remarked, she was “only” a crush. Not to underestimate a crush … but you know, there was no time to actually get attached to anyone yet.

I think it’s funny how different Bill thinks to regular companions. Sometimes she notices things others never did (like why TARDIS was actually English) and then she takes much longer to get other stuff (they got there in the end with the “It’s bigger on the inside”), but she really has a knack for ruining those violin-playing moments sometimes. I hope they don’t play on that too much in the upcoming season. All in all, I really enjoyed her first episode though and I am looking forward to where we are going with her.

There were a couple of moments that really touched me. For one, the moment they started playing Joy Division‘s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” because it gives me flashbacks to 13 Reasons Why, but on a more serious note, it was so lovely when Bill discovered that the Doctor took photos of her mother so she would have a reminder of her. Bill said that having a picture of someone, even if you don’t remember knowing them, matters and I didn’t realise it in that moment, but I think it reminded the Doctor of Clara and the fact that he doesn’t even know how she looks like. That really got to me. Just like the scene when he was about to wipe Bill’s memory and she scolded him by asking how he would feel if someone did that to him. Oh boy, when they started playing Clara’s theme song in the background, I almost teared up. As you’ve noticed by now, I saw a lot of residual Clara in this episode and I am immensely happy about that. I think I feared that since he couldn’t remember about her, that chapter would just be done with, but it’s those little things that keep her alive still.

Before I wrap this up, I just want to ask my American readers to please, please, please tune in to Class, which airs on BBC America right after Doctor Who. I ADORE this show and I need a second season, but apparently the BBC is still waiting on the American ratings before they decide on the renewal of the show. We deserve another season and I really NEED it. I am going to do a #CurrentlyWatching post for it this upcoming Friday to make sure everyone knows how awesome the show is, so stay on the lookout for that for sure!

How did you like the Season 10 premiere? What are your thoughts on Bill?

15 thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Pilot

  1. I thought it was a very strong start for the season. It took its time establishing the characters, easing us into the story, and knew when to speed up and get fast-paced.
    I also liked Bill a lot. She’s very funny and empathetic, which is always good in a companion. But more than that, I love how naturally they treated her sexuality. A lot of the time, it feels likes writers have to make a character’s sexuality their defining characteristic (like Kurt in Glee) or it’s understated to the point of being slightly ambiguous (Trini in the Power Rangers movie). Here, it’s shown in an obvious way, but it’s not made this huge deal. They treat it like her fashion or her hair, just another aspect of her character. I love that! It’s so refreshing, and it’s so much closer to how actual LGBT people prefer to be treated (and how I try to write them in my stories). I also like that she’s a black LGBT character. It used to be that if a gay character appeared on TV, they were usually white. I love how there’s a push towards showing that the LGBT community has members of all races, ethnicities and nationalities.
    All in all, I’m looking forward to the next 11 episodes. Should be interesting (especially with John Simms returning as the Master!).

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    • I thought it was a good start, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it strong. The jumping from time to space and stuff was a bit too quick and didn’t do much other than show Bill what the TARDIS can do. I thought that was too jumpy and could have been handled differently. Also, after chasing someone to the ends of the universe, I’d expect them to put up a bigger fight, so that was not as impressive in my eyes either. Still, a good episode, just with potential for more.
      I completely hear you on Bill’s sexuality! Moffat said in an interview that it wasn’t supposed to be made into such a big deal and I am glad that’s the way they are going here. Also YES TO INTERSECTIONALITY! It’s so important to showcase that always!!!
      I saw John Simms in the promo for the rest of the season and my mouth just fell open. I cannot wait for that particular episode.

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  2. I have to admit that I didn’t watch the most recent season of Doctor Who because I HATED Clara and where the storylines were going but I’ve just watched this episode and actually really enjoyed it. I think Bill is great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm … I get that many people didn’t like Clara and I am the first to admit that season 8 was terrible, but she and the series as a whole was so much better in season 9. Their relationship really got to shine and I think it’s a bit of a shame you didn’t get to see how it ended, but it’s your choice whether you ever want to revisit that. Bill is definitely a great addition.

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