A Whole New Doctor

Yesterday the Philadelphia Eagles laid an egg for the second week in a row. But it didn’t sting much because it was also the day Jodie Whittaker would premier as The Doctor. I’d been waiting months to see her in action!

There was pushback by the more misogynist elements among sci-fi geekdom when Whittaker was announced as The Doctor. I’ve kept my comments on the upcoming season of Dr. Who to a minimum, as I wanted my review of her portrayal to be based on what she did with the character and not on the shouting matches going on between reactionary and progressive branches of geek fandom. At the same time, in the first teaser for Jodie Whittaker’s take on The Doctor I was filled with hope. There is a moment when the TARDIS materializes and she sees the iconic Police Box and… wow. In that first promo the way she looks at the ship let me know from the start she had a grasp on the character. I wanted to see more.

And then the follow up promos hit. They were underwhelming.

But they were not overwhelming because of Jodie Whittaker’s performance. In fact, her brief appearances in those commercials continued to cement my belief that she understood The Doctor. My problem was the way The BBC handled the promotions. They wanted to keep Whittaker’s take on the character under wraps, and understandably so, but seemed to have difficulty communicating the theme of her doctor without showing her on screen. The result were a couple of generic sci-fi montages with contentless voice-over work which failed to capture the heart of Whittaker’s Doctor. So as I approached the upcoming season I was convinced Whittaker was going to make a great Doctor, but I was also a bit concerned the show runners had no idea how they wanted to theme the world around her Doctor.

It turns out, I had no reason to be concerned. Jodie Whittaker’s debut as The Doctor is wonderful. Her manic presentation of the character, contrasted by the more grounded “everyperson” nature of her new companions, creates a terrific dynamic. The pacing is well-done, and I loved the creepy new antagonist. The one complaint I can share about the episode is that we didn’t get to see the title roll. These have bene used to set the tone for each take on the doctor, I was excited to see what they would do with with this new take on the character. I was bummed when they didn’t run. Still, I cannot wait to see more!

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