I counted at least four deaths in ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’, the one-hour opener of the new Doctor Who series. These deaths ‘worked’: in that they increased the sense of jeopardy, none of them was gratuitous and the baddie was made to seem properly bad. This series certainly feels more mature and serious than previous ones: the evil aliens (‘The Stenza’) have come to Earth to conduct ‘a hunt’ in the Predator-style, and Predator is much more horror-driven and adult as a franchise than Doctor Who. The increased ‘jeopardy’ stopped anything seeming silly, puerile and throwaway – indeed, the action was compelling and engaging.
What about Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor, you scream? Well, Jodie was excellent. She was totally unaffected (unlike some previous actors in the role), you see. The humour was therefore natural, unforced and more nuanced. That’s half the battle of playing the Doctor, actually. Hats off to her. And the script seemed stronger than in previous series – although it could simply have been Jodie doing so well with the material. I particularly enjoyed the rebooted ‘sonic screwdriver’ being ‘a Swiss army knife, without the knife’, and the new costume selection in the charity shop. But that’s just me. I score the opener an optimistic 8.5 out of 10. Onwards!