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Review: Doctor Who – The Pilot

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie)
Photo Credit: © Ray Burmiston / BBC AMERICA

Doctor Who is back on the small screen with a fair bit of running and quite a few unanswered questions!

Starting a new series with Nardole, played by Matt Lucas, still at his side, the Doctor is set up as a professor lecturing in an university in Bristol. Picking up on the most unlikely people, the Doctor has his interest set on the chip girl from the canteen, Bill Potts, played by actress Pearl Mackie. She had been auditing his eclectic lecture series and caught his eye, but that’s not the only eye she’s caught. One of the students, Heather, has also shown an interest in Bill and in a mysterious puddle on the back lot that just doesn’t seem right. The reflections aren’t right. And with that, our adventure is off and rolling.

Doctor Who (PETER CAPALDI), Bill (PEARL MACKIE)
Photo Credit: Simon Ridgway/BBC AMERICA

The newest episode of  Doctor Who has mysteries and lots of running. Bill has been, if you excuse the expression, billed as the new Ace. She kind of vaguely fits in that slot, but it will take more than just a smart mouth to stand up to the iconic baseball bat wielding companion. Nardole seems to be settling in well and creating a buffer between the gruff doctor and human feelings. I hadn’t picked up on first watching that Nardole has an android body now, which makes sense, since all that was left was his head after The Husbands of River Song. It also explains why he hasn’t aged during that “very long night”.

There were some wonderful Easter Eggs for viewers if you were watching! The pencil cup full of his predecessor’s sonics, the Doctor handing Nardale the 4th Doctor’s sonic to distract the Daleks, oh, there were Daleks, for a moment! Also the framed photos of both River Song and Susan Forman on his desk. River, part of modern who, whom we know as the Doctor’s wife, and Susan, classic fans will remember, was his granddaughter from the first incarnation of the show with William Hartnell.

Nardole (MATT LUCAS) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Also there were a lot of nods to Douglas Adams in this episode. Adams, whom you will remember from his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “badly name five books of the trilogy.” Adams wrote for classic who, and his unfinished script Shada has a lot of similarities to this story. The Doctor’s 50 year tenure at the University mirror Doctor Chronotis in Adams’ story. It will be interesting to see how the “vault” in the basement plays out this season.

It was an enjoyable opener, but we’ll have to see where it goes from here. Moffat has been disappointing with his stories this last series, giving us several real stinkers. This episode was refreshingly lighter and a step away from the very dark and very heavy episodes of last series. Here’s for hopping for more fun and lots more running!

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