"We don't get aliens in Sheffield..."
Until now, that is. Yes, it's finally time for the Thirteenth Doctor to crash to Earth and start her new adventures.
But first of all we meet Ryan Sinclair, a young man struggling with a boring job and dyspraxia, and Yasmin Khan, a trainee policewoman who's looking for more interesting work than domestic disputes. And when a strange, freezing-cold alien pod lands in Sheffield they both find their lives suddenly get more interesting... and far more dangerous.
The disorientated, post-regeneration Doctor literally drops out of the sky into the story and enlists Yaz and Ryan ( along with Ryan's nan and step-granddad ) to help her solve the mystery of strange murders across Sheffield. Something is killing people and then bizarrely taking teeth as trophies...
"We're all capable of the most incredible change. We can evolve while still staying true to who we are. We can honour who we've been and choose who we want to be next. Now's your chance - how about it?"
This quote from the Doctor is pretty much a mission statement for her character and the show itself. There's been a massive change this series - new companions, new theme tune, new look, new locations and, most importantly, a new and ( shock! horror! ) female Doctor. ( "Sorry, half an hour ago I was a white-haired Scotsman." ) And, from my point of view, all this change is immensely positive. Constituting an almost-total reboot, this new series has been eagerly awaited by many ( and reviled by some, even before they'd seen it ) as a fresh start for the show. Don't get me wrong, I was a huge fan of Peter Capaldi's era, and wished he could have done another series, but Doctor Who as a show thrives on change, and this radical change is an ideal jumping-on point for many who hadn't given it a chance before. It's pretty awesome for us old Whovians too...
For a start, it all looks stunning - the new camera lenses and altered aspect ratio really do lend a filmic quality to this first episode which should help the show punch above its weight in the overcrowded TV marketplace. The cast are all great, with Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh standing out in some very emotional scenes. I'm hoping we'll see a lot more of Mandip Gill in future episodes because she gets a little lost in the mix here, but there is a lot to do in terms of establishing the characters, so it's early days yet. The story is very pacy with an excellent balance between plot and dialogue, horror and humour. The alien threat is fairly sketchy but visually appealing... and the explanation for the missing teeth is suitably grisly. I'm sure many little ones would have scuttled behind the proverbial sofa at certain points. And then there is the Doctor herself...
Fizzing with energy, a force of nature with a Yorkshire accent, Jodie Whittaker instantly convinces as the battered, bewildered but quickly recovering and learning Thirteenth Doctor. She has some lovely moments of gentle humour, an instant rapport with her new friends and is suitably steely but compassionate when facing down the alien predator with the dental fascination. There's obviously some way to go in establishing her character but this new Doctor has fallen to Earth and landed on her feet. I really loved this episode and I'm excited for the rest of the series to come - and we still haven't seen the new Tardis yet! Next Sunday can't come soon enough!
In the time-honoured Glass Walking-Stick tradition, I'm giving this one
Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or wet weekends in Sheffield )
*Oh yeah - as well as watching a Doctor on TV tonight, earlier in the day we actually met two other Doctors. ( We did achieve peak Who-ness today, I think. ) But which two, I hear you ask, you voices in my head? All will be revealed...*