Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 10/26/18 4:23 pm
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The series premiere of this new era had so much to prove even more so than the last time a big transition happenned with Matt Smith and Steven Moffat. Similar to "The Eleventh Hour" following "The End of Time", "The Woman Who Fell To Earth" follows "Twice Upon a Time" with gusto, fervor, and a bright new confidence in our new Doctor. It also immediately sets things out in a very different way and it's obvious that Chris Chibnall's style as showrunner is going to be very different from anything we've seen before in the New Series. Similar to how he ran his show "Broadchurch" and even episodes of 'Torchwood' of which a strong resemblance can be seen, his story-telling language is very modern, very immediate, and surprisingly intimate. It gets deep in to the details and lives of the people it's affecting while never losing a sense of the scope that makes regeneration stories fascinating. While the structure and importance of the episode is very much akin to 'Eleventh Hour', it's tone is more akin to 'Rose' or 'Invasion' and the story follows very similar beats. Without giving away spoilers, the narrative does follow a standard 'random people get in trouble with aliens, regenerating Doctor drops in to their lives to save the day' storyline. But the storyline isn't really the focus so much as the look of the story, re-establishing the world, and getting to know these characters especially our new Doctor. Speaking of which, Whittaker's 13 is brilliant right from the off. She seems to have taken the final words of the Twelfth Doctor to heart as she for once feels like she's excited to be the Doctor again. While all of the Doctors prior have had their own personal journeys and happy moments in the New Series, their journeys have been much more about their pain with the Time War, struggles in handling grief and darkness, and all of the negative emotions therein. While it has been a great journey thus far and I don't regret any second with them, it did have a tendency to bring us as an audience down in places and wear out its welcome especially by the end of Twelve's era. The Thirteenth Doctor doesn't seem to have this problem whatsoever and it's a beautifully refreshing change that feels new but familiar at the same time. She's a ball of manic energy with a positive smile right from the get go and genuinely feels happy to be alive even sans TARDIS and sonic screwdriver. But she also never forgets that she is the Doctor and while her sad moments do come especially given what happens in the story, it never feels overly drawn out and it feels very organic. Her newly established TARDIS team feels more or less the same way albeit in a lesser form. If I had to pick a favorite out of the new entourage, it would be Bradley Walsh as Graham as the new older companion who feels like a weird combination of Wilfred Mott from the Tennant Era and Ian Chesterton from the Hartnell. But all of them are done relatively well with Mandip Gill playing Yasmin Cole as a frustrated young policewoman looking for a break and Tosin Cole playing Ryan Sinclair as a struggling young man whose problems become more relevant the longer the story goes. Sharon D. Clarke also does well as Ryan's grandmother and they all are brought together somewhat quickly but with enough tangible connections and strong characterizations that it doesn't feel forced or empty. Everyone gets a lot of great interactions together spaced out by plenty of time to breathe in between and the episode gives us plenty of great moments to enjoy. This includes the Doctor's post-regenerative mania, how the new sonic screwdriver comes into the picture, and of course the final moments that establish this new team's adventures for the stories to come as well as the Doctor's new look. Not to mention that the music by new composer Segun Akinola is different but fabulous and there are plenty of musical moments and themes here that I can't wait to see come out in soundtrack form. While it doesn't quite match the heights of 'Eleventh Hour' or some of the best that the show has to offer, 'Woman Who Fell To Earth' is still one of the best season openers and Doctor Who stories ever made far surpassing "Deep Breath", "Rose", and "The Christmas Invasion" in terms of New Doctor stories and becoming a personal third favorite story ever for me behind 'Day of the Doctor' and 'Eleventh Hour'. It's important, enjoyable, fun, and the perfect place for newcomers to jump in as was promised and considering how easily things could've gone wrong with this new direction, I couldn't be happier with it.