As requested, my thoughts on this season’s Doctor Who premiere, The Woman Who Fell To Earth (although … you’d never know that was the title of the episode cuz THERE’S NO FUCKING CREDITS!!!).  These are the comments that I typed up in an email to a friend of mine, plus my friend’s response, plus my reaction to my friend’s response.

* * * * *

I have to preface all of this by saying I have not been eagerly anticipating this season at all.  Not in the slightest.  I’m not pulling a full fanboy tantrum and refusing to watch it (c.f. Ian Levine), but I am keeping my expectations as low as possible.  I had low expectations for Capaldi’s last season and I ended up enjoying the hell out of it.  However … for Smith’s and Capaldi’s casting announcements, I knew right away each of them would end up being a good Doctor (and yes, they were great Doctors, it’s just that they both suffered from a hell of a lot of bad writing).  In this case, I had no prior experience with Whittaker’s work, so I had no idea whether or not her casting was a good or bad thing.  People hated Colin Baker, and I ended up liking his Doctor.  People liked Sylvester McCoy, and I have to say his is still my least favorite Doctor.  Whittaker could end up being another Peter Davison.  Or maybe she’ll end up combining the most annoying aspects of C.Baker and McCoy.  I can’t make any conclusion about that based on a single modern Who episode, especially one that is deliberately cluttered with post-regenerative foolishness in the name of the character’s journey of self-discovery.  The Christmas Invasion did a good job of that.  The Eleventh Hour did a fantastic job of that.  Deep Breath should be renamed Deep Sigh.  As for this one ….

Thoughts as I watched it:

This really felt like an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures, not Doctor Who.  I kept expecting Luke, Mr Smith & K9 to show up.

Is that thing that Clyde … er, Ryan … discovered, is that a giant Hersey’s kiss or a giant turd?

Okay, now with Rani … er, Yasmin … a constable, now I’m getting an early Torchwood vibe.  I know this is supposed to be all shiny and brand new, almost like a reboot, but right from the very beginning this is starting to look and feel like a mishmash of rehashed RTD ideas.

So the Doctor falls from orbit onto/into a train … and survives?  Uninjured?!?  HOW?!?  SERIOUSLY?!?  So much for suspension of disbelief.  This has obviously been going the slow burn route to try to get us caught up in the development of these characters before the new Doctor is introduced.  However, doing it this blatantly unrealistic (and unexplained – or did I miss the explanation?) and downright killed any ability for me to get caught up in either characters or events.  Chibnall should know better.  From what I’ve heard about his work on Broadchurch — I really do need to watch that someday — he is (supposedly) a far far better writer than that.

(But then again, I have no idea whether or not he actually wrote this because THERE WEREN’T ANY FUCKING CREDITS!!!)

The description of regenerating (specifically, experiencing the beginning of a new incarnation) was pretty intriguing.  Reminiscent of Eccleston’s monologue to Rose about being able to feel the Earth moving through space.  Kinda good, but alas, Eccleston did it better.  Either that, or I just liked it more the first time around.  Heavy sigh.

“Best guess: two species at war, using earth as a battleground.”  Heavy sigh.  I liked it better when it was the Sontarans vs the Rutans.

“I am special.  I am valued.” …. Heavy sigh ….  I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people LIKE me!

I’m kinda impressed that Whittaker did her own stunts.  I always respect that.  But I wouldn’t have known that fer sure just by watching the show.  This is one case where I’m glad that I cheated and read some of those Radio Times questions before I watched this.

The unexpected death came across as a cheap attempt at emotional manipulation, rather than a valid emotional kick in the pants.  Adric is the obvious first thought here, but I think Katarina’s death is a more apt comparison and far far more moving, even considering that the majority of that sequence is lost.  I still get shivers when I see her arm flailing, desperately reaching for the airlock switch.  Here I’m left wondering would she really still be able to speak coherently after a fall like that?  (Yes, Baker could do so after the fall in Logopolis, but 1 he’s a Time Lord and 2 he fell onto grass-covered dirt.  So I had suspension of disbelief there.  In tonight’s case, she fell directly onto concrete, or at least asphalt.  Far higher splat potential there.)

Whittaker’s description of how she copes with her family being gone brought back memories of Troughton saying something similar to Victoria in Tomb.  Sorry, Troughton did it better.  At least I didn’t have to strain my ears to understand his accent.  Heavy sigh.

And her being rather insistent that her family is gone — do we take that to mean Susan is dead, too?  We never had any confirmation either way as to whether or not Susan got caught up into the Last Great Time War.  And since Capaldi had her pic on his desk, I was hoping that meant we’d see the Doctor finally go visit her (or her come and find him) at some point.  Carole Ann Ford may be ancient now, but she ain’t dead yet.

So overall, upon first (slightly scattered) viewing, I’d have to rate it a solid meh with a handful of heavy sighs.  The missing opening titles really has me wondering what show I’m watching.  What do I think of Whittaker as a Doctor?  Dunno, jury’s still out.  Took me three eps to believe Eccleston was the same Doctor that I watched way back when.  Can’t remember how many for Tennant.  Smith was the Doctor for me right before the end of The Eleventh Hour.  Capaldi, just two.  At least Whittaker isn’t gurning about whilst playing the spoons.  So she’s got that going for her.

MY FRIEND’S RESPONSE:

“I’m gonna withhold comment for now except this: check the scene where the alien explains what it’s doing to The Doctor and company, then go review a scene in either in the first or second acts of the 3rd season Lost In Space episode, ‘Hunter’s Moon,’ where the alien describes his purpose on the Robinson’s planet.”

MY SUBSEQUENT REACTION:

And … oh good grief!  Motherfucking Chibnall cribbed the alien’s motivation ALMOST WORD FOR WORD from that 1967 Lost In Space episode!!!

Dammit!

I am seriously not looking forward to the rest of this season.  Feh!

 

Advertisements