Summer 2017 the world was introduced to the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord; actress Jodie Whittaker took over the role of the protagonist of the longest running science fiction show on television following the regeneration of Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor at the end of that year’s Christmas special.
The idea that The Doctor could change gender was something that had been hinted at before, particularly after the memorable portrayal of his arch nemesis The Master by Michelle Gomez, which revealed that Time Lords are not bound by gender.
Naturally, the final decision garnered a lot of feedback online, both positive and negative, but many embraced the new direction, feeling it a testament to how universal the character is. This brilliant plot device has enabled The Doctor to not only be played by many talented actors but also evolve as time (no pun intended) has progressed, thus allowing a 1960s BBC Saturday evening science fiction serial to become one of the most beloved series worldwide. We’re all proud Whovians!
As of Sunday, October the 7th the long wait was over and I am delighted to say that I was not disappointed. From the moment we are introduced to Whittaker’s Doctor it becomes clear that she has already found her feet in the role, bringing the trademark blend of alien kookiness, high intelligence and an unwavering sense of what is right that fans have grown to love, delivered in her own unique way. The Doctor may be the same character but no two portrayals are the same, or as they once put it: “same screwdriver, different casing”.
Of course The Doctor can’t travel alone and another change this season is that our time-hopping hero will be accompanied not just by a single companion, as has been the series’ staple for a while now, but by a group of friends. The ensemble cast have great chemistry and I am interested to see how their characters will develop when all of time and space is opened up to them.
Two of the other major departures from tradition were, firstly, the noticeable absence of a certain blue box. A new Doctor usually means a new TARDIS but it seems that finding her trusty time machine will be 13’s first major quest before any other adventures can begin. This was initially reminiscent of the days of Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor, who spent the majority of his time stranded on earth but following the conclusion of the episode, it doesn’t look like 13 will be spending a lot of time in Sheffield. The other change was that we actually got to see The Doctor construct the latest version of the iconic Sonic Screwdriver, which up until this point had always simply appeared inside the TARDIS (hard to beat Sheffield steel).
With an interesting (and very cool looking) villain, the spirit of adventure that has made it a household name, and some genuinely touching moments, which include our new Doctor speaking about the necessity of change and growing as people (nice touch for those who may still be on the fence), this new era for the show has certainly started strong and I find myself excited for next week and the rest of the season to come.
The Doctor is back and it’s about time!