After what seemed like an interminable wait — one which actually exceeded the amount of time the show was on hiatus in the 1980s! — Doctor Who‘s eleventh season has finally arrived, starring Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor in her first episode, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.”
And I loved it.
Chris Chibnall, the new show runner, has breathed new life into what had, in my opinion, grown stale under Steven Moffat. There was a wonderful, season one/Christopher Eccleston-era feel to the whole thing. The cast is extraordinary. I love that Graham, Ryan, and Yaz all know each other, from family and from living in the same town, and I have the very pleasant sense — almost relief, really — that it’s not anything bigger than that, not some Moffat-esque tilt at destiny or forced “Impossible Girl”-type mystery. They are written and performed realistically, marking a welcome change from the often cartoonish characters and walking bundles of charming quirks we’ve seen so much of.
Jodie Whittaker is a revelation as the Doctor. She’s energetic without bringing the weird, sometimes off-putting mania that Matt Smith did. I’ve been missing the feel of the Eccleston and Tennant eras of Doctor Who for a long time now, and this feels like a return to form. I thought the incidental music throughout the episode was fantastic, and Segun Akinola’s classic version of the iconic theme was delightful.
Do I have quibbles? Sure, I always do. It didn’t seem to take the Doctor very long at all to make a brand new sonic screwdriver out of whatever just happened to be available in that old warehouse. She’s finished just as some other characters come to tell her they’ve found something that we saw them find right before she began work on it. There’s a lot of getting from place to place so quickly as to almost be magical. Karl was hilarious and should also be a companion. Okay, maybe not, because that would be a lot of companions, but still, I liked Karl.
It’s only the first episode of the new season, but I’m already very, very pleased. To me it feels like Doctor Who is back, and for the first time in a long time I can’t wait for the next episode.