Doctor Who: The Pilot “You Run Like A Penguin With Its Arse On Fire”

It has been a long wait, but we finally have the show back…and it looks like The Doctor has spent a good few years on earth as a lecturer. Doctor Who wastes no time establishing new companion Bill to the cast. Straight away, Pearl Mackie makes Bill both fun and intriguing (and as my title shows, can deliver some great lines!). We haven’t got someone who has waited years for The Doctor or scattered across time and space, this is just a normal person looking for adventure. We also get to see a bit more of The Doctor and Nardole’s relationship which shows the duo have stayed together and helped each other for at least 50 years (according to the staff Bill speaks to). But with all the characters we meet, including Bill’s new friend Heather, we need to find out what is in this vault under the university? Maybe it is holding The Master? More on that later (not later in this article, I mean later in the series!).

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Bill is intrigued by The Doctor, though not a student at the University, The Doctor gives Bill private tutorage as he sees something about her. While The Doctor and Nardole continue to monitor a vault under the University which I am sure we will learn more about throughout the series, Bill becomes friends with a girl called Heather who has a star shape in her eye. There is a strange puddle near the University, and Heather seems to disappear near this puddle when Bill comes to her. The Doctor finds this puddle interesting, the result of his research involves them taking a journey through time and space including a meeting with The Daleks. If you saw the clip last year which introduced Bill, you will see this slightly tweaked for this opening episode.

This episode does hit some great notes, but it does suffer a bit from middle-act syndrome. The first 15 minutes is good as we get a crash course in Bill Potts and her world. Then the last 15 minutes are exciting as we really get an adventure which we have never really seen before, with the twist being so simple yet very effective and saves the second act for me for that call back. The Doctor is reluctant to have a new companion, he wants nothing but to stay where he is. Bill isn’t stupid, even calling The Doctor on one his oldest tricks before he can perform it on her. The conclusion to this episode is well executed, and will make you scared of water…again (remember in ‘The Waters Of Mars’?).

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Steven Moffat has written a good series opener, possibly his second or third best series opener. While there aren’t many surprises, there are a few nice moments. The action may not be too grand, but it does give that soft reboot which the show should see have an impact in the coming weeks. Bill’s introduction to the TARDIS was really well done, Nardole’s sense of humour is indeed a bit feistier than we remember (but I enjoy it) and the pictures of River Song and granddaughter Susan are nice touches. These are two of the most important people in The Doctor’s life and they seem to guide him in his decision to travel again. The good thing about episode one, is that there is a long way to go. Matt Lucas continues to impress me as Nardole, the character is growing on me with each appearance and I am glad he is a companion (is he an android now?). Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is still going strong, he clearly wants a more peaceful life, but we all know that won’t happen. But my big thumbs up go to Pearl Mackie who makes her major TV debut as Bill. Pearl is known mostly for stage work, but TV work will clearly stand out a lot more now. Bill is definitely a fun and deep character, someone who will hopefully be a perfect foil to Nardole and The Doctor over the next few months.

A nice start and a lot of potential for series 10 to be great. Plus, stay after the end credits to see a look at what is to come…and who!

Final rating: 8/10

Written by Jonjo Cosgrove

Doctor Who continues next week with ‘Smile’!

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