Doctor Who Series 11 Episode One
Jodie Whittaker is The Doctor, as if you didn’t know, and she certainly fell to Earth (well Sheffield) with quite an impact as the first episode of Series 11 materialised back on to our screens. It was out with the old, and in with the new as the classic sci-fi show materialised back on to our screens with a bang.
The episode was penned by Chris Chibnall, the new showrunner who took over the reins from his predecessor Steven Moffat, and was directed by Jamie Childs who made his Who directing debut. To say this episode certainly had a lot to do and to say it achieved a lot is an understatement.
Chibnall, the man responsible for hit crime drama Broadchurch, writes for Doctor Who for the first time since 2012, and so had a lot to prove after past ventures not being totally convincing. Joining Whittaker in the TARDIS this series is Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Toisin Cole who are playing Graham O’Brien, Yazmin Khan and Ryan Sinclair respectively. We start the episode with Ryan and we learn how has Dyspraxia, a disability not often represented in drama, in a sequence where he struggles to ride his bike. This was an addition that added a lot of depth to his character throughout the episode. As the plot progresses we are also introduced to Yaz, a local police officer, who joins the investigation of strange goings on after a call from Ryan, which is instigated and lead by the newly-regenerated thirteenth doctor.
One of the real highlights of the opener was the new style of music the show is implementing, with Segun Akinola providing us with both, some real subtle tracks throughout the episode and a new rendition of the iconic theme that had some major call-backs to the original 1963 version. This new theme of course not being depicted in the form of opening titles, this episode opted against the use of the well accustomed theme, but instead, to compliment the arrival of the new doctor, the middle eight section plays as she falls through the train roof. This was really AWESOME!
Another real stand out moment for me is when she constructs the new sonic screwdriver. What is so excellent about this scene in particular is the way in which it is shot, the dark dingy surroundings juxtaposed with the bright orange glow of the new sonic, makes this scene that extra special. It really does give us a taste of who this new doctor is and gives us as the audience an indication that she might be that bit more light-hearted than previous incumbents, including The Doctor sporting a northern accent for the first time since Christopher Eccelston’s ninth incarnation. Let’s just say, in terms of the new sonic screwdriver, I’m warming to the new design. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her make it, it certainly made a change from a new device popping up from the TARDIS. I hear that Sheffield steel is quite the ticket, it’s just a Swiss army sonic, but without the knife and with added Sheffield steel.
Although it must be said, one of the downfalls of the episode comes in the form of the ‘man in the crane’, especially in the scene where he conducts in some self-reflection all whilst being perused by T’zim-Sha, or is it Tim Shaw? His character lacked that bit of quality both in respects of how he was written and the conviction of the actor’s performance. There were also, and this becomes much more notable on a re-watch, too many questions asked and not enough answered throughout the episode.
I definitely wouldn’t herald Jodie’s introduction amongst the high flying pre-regenerations episodes of past such as the suave third doctor Jon Pertwee’s introduction in ‘Spearhead from Space’ or the eccentric eleventh doctor Matt Smith’s first appearance in ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Although, I certainly wouldn’t rate it amongst the worst. I would say that her introductory episode was missing that defining ‘doctor’ moment we’ve been used to with previous incarnations, although the ‘I am the Doctor’ moment on the crane with Tim Shaw we did receive was something of note I suppose.