TV Review – ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

‘Doctor Who’ has returned to TV screens with Jodie Whittaker!!!

I’ve been looking forward to watching Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’, starting Sunday the 7th of October 2018. Unfortunately, I didn’t see ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ on TV screens at 6:45pm as I had other commitments that evening. But I managed to catch-up on the first TV episode via BBC iPlayer.

In fact, my parents and I saw it on our home computer via BBC iPlayer. We had pizza and everything. 😀 My parents didn’t want to miss out on the first TV episode with Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I’m glad I saw this special episode with my parents to find out what the new Doctor was like.

Before we talk about the episode itself, I want to make something abundantly clear here. I know not everyone is going to warm to the fact that it’s now a female Doctor on TV. I know there are fans out there who are still feeling uncomfortable with the notion that Jodie Whittaker is playing the Doctor.

But for me personally, I want to enjoy the 10 episodes of Series 11 as well as the Christmas Special coming out later this year in December. I want to share my thoughts on why I enjoy these episodes. If there is anything I don’t like about this season, then I’ll do my best to explain why that is the case.

At present, things seem to be really promising for the new Doctor as well as the approach to the new series by Chris Chibnall. Regarding Jodie Whittaker though, I’m not going to make any final verdict on her performance as the Doctor throughout Series 11. I will make my final verdict at the very end.

I’ll make some observations about Jodie Whittaker of course, but I’m not going to bring up any gender equality-related issues or political correctness issues in my reviews. I want to review these ‘Doctor Who’ episodes as ‘Doctor Who’ episodes. With that out of the way, let’s talk about Series 11.

‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ takes place in Sheffield in the present day. Hey, I’ve been to Sheffield once back in March 2015. And it’s also the place where Jodie Whittaker’s character in ‘Trust Me’ came from. Bit of a coincidence! Anyway, this episode is where we meet our three new companions.

I like how this episode focuses on the point of view of the companions from the start of Series 11, just like it happened with Rose Tyler at the start of Series 1. The new companions are Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien; Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair and Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan. These three are very good!

By the way, this episode features no opening credits at the start. There’s not even a teaser scene for the opening credits. Odd decision, I admit that. But at least this episode didn’t take the route ‘Sleep No More’ did. Hopefully we’ll get the new opening titles and new titles music in the next episode.

Incidentally, there is a bit of the ‘Doctor Who’ theme music when Jodie Whittaker crashes into a train and appears as the new Doctor for the first time. And thankfully we get to hear the new ‘Doctor Who’ theme music composed by Segun Akinola during the episode’s end credits. It sounds good.

Of course the episode takes place directly after Jodie’s Doctor fell out of the TARDIS at the end of ‘Twice Upon A Time’. It does take a while for Jodie’s Doctor to make an appearance in the episode with all the other characters being set up. But when she turns up, she’s into action already and is good.

I like how the three companions are set up in the first episode. I like Ryan Sinclair as a character, who’s 19 and has a dyspraxia problem. There’s also Graham O’Brien who’s married to Sharon D. Clarke as Grace, Ryan’s nan. And there’s also Yasmin Khan who is a junior police officer in Sheffield.

I know that this is just the beginning and Graham, Ryan and Yasmin don’t all have equally strong standout moments in the episode. Ryan seems to stand out as a character for me compared to Graham and Yasmin. But this episode provides a good introduction to them and I like them already.

I really like that first scene in the train where the Doctor arrives, sorts out an alien and then meets her three potential (four if you count Grace as well) companions. It was funny when the Doctor asked Yasmin – ‘Yaz’ for short – “Why are you calling me, madam?” It’s a really good scene to watch.

So far, Jodie seems to have won me over as the Doctor. I like how she plays the character in the first episode, full of potential promise. Dad described her as a female version of David Tennant and I suppose that’s true. But from what I’ve seen so far, she seems to have made the character her own.

I’m quite relieved that there weren’t any sexual innuendos made about the fact the Doctor was now a woman, not a man in the episode. I was expecting there to be. Thankfully there weren’t. The episode gets straight to the point with Jodie’s Doctor sorting out the alien menace that’s attacking Sheffield itself.

Speaking of which, the writing feels much stronger in the episode compared to previous ‘Doctor Who’ episodes I’ve seen. The pacing feels sharper, especially as things happen more coherently and not too fast with things being thrown in your face as it was the case in the previous era by Steven Moffat.

I found myself on the edge of my seat on some really tense, scary moments. This could help with the fact that most of the episode was set at night-time and most scenes were darkly-lit. The episode’s monster Samuel Oatley as Venom, I’m sorry…Tzim-Sha also felt intimidating for our Doctor to face.

Jodie’s Doctor called him Tim Shaw for some reason. 😀 I did feel that Jodie’s Doctor had her heroic moments in the episode, especially when she was rescuing Johnny Dixon as Karl by jumping across from one construction crane to the next. She also had her moments of compassion in good and bad moments.

The episode also has Jodie’s Doctor building her new sonic screwdriver when she’s in a warehouse of some sort. That’s handy, isn’t it? It’s interesting how this episode doesn’t end with Jodie finding the TARDIS again. Usually first episodes for a new Doctor end with that. Perhaps it’s saved for next time.

There is a pretty shocking death featured in the episode. I won’t spoil it for you, but it was pretty emotional and heartbreaking to see. It was beautifully handled and I’m amazed with how the actors put their all into the scene. I haven’t seen an emotional scene like that since the David Tennant era.

This all leads to a funeral in…Oh my goodness! Is that St. Mark’s Church in Gabalfa, Cardiff?! It is! They filmed a funeral scene in St. Mark’s Church! I know that place! I was in the church before seeing the episode that evening. Seriously, I was. Ironic I was in that very church before seeing this episode. 😀

The episode ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger with Jodie’s Doctor, now out of the Peter Capaldi clothes and finally into her Thirteenth Doctor outfit, off to find her TARDIS. Her new companions, Graham; Ryan and Yasmin join her too (accidentally I might add). I won’t reveal how that happens, but it was exciting.

I was a little concerned when Jodie’s Doctor said it was a long time since she/he had worn women’s clothes in the episode when choosing her new Thirteenth Doctor outfit. But the more I thought about it, Jon Pertwee’s Doctor did dress up as a cleaning lady in ‘The Green Death’. So it made sense here.

Before we finish, I must tell you how much I enjoyed ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’. I’m enjoying Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’ so far. Jodie Whittaker has done well playing the Doctor. Also the writing by Chris Chibnall seems to be stronger and a big improvement compared to previous seasons here.

I was hoping to like this new era of ‘Doctor Who’. From what I’ve seen, I like it so far. I hope things will get better as Series 11 progresses later in the year. I know it’s early days and I won’t make a final judgement on Jodie Whittaker and Series 11 until the end. But I can’t help feel good about Series 11.

Next week’s episode is called ‘The Ghost Monument’ by Chris Chibnall.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

8 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Excellent review & completely agree with your dad Jodie’s Doctor has the same energy that David Tennant did & nobody is as shocked as me how much I enjoyed this episode because as you know I been very vocal about casting a female Doctor but Jodies performance won me over & now doing a Thirteenth Doctor illustration.

    What I think made me against a female Doctor was Michelle Gomez awful pantomine performance as Missy it may have tainted my opinion on a female Doctor she was over the top & at times stupid not taking the part seriously, however Jodie can actually act & mixed humour, drama & emotion, I believed in her performance & become invested in her interpretation of the Doctor.

    Companions good, Yas was a little underused I thought but no doubt she’ll get bigger arc over the season, I like the change in tone feels more realistic & less pantomime vibe that I felt the Moffat era had, this feels fun but more serious somehow & I love the new theme which echoes the authenticity of the original theme but given a modern upgrade.

    Tim I said I would & I have admitted I was wrong & I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong, my love, passion & enthusiasm for the show is back & fully restored, brilliant review mate perfectly summed up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’.

      I’m so pleased Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor has won you over in the first episode. I was worried about whether you would like Jodie’s Doctor or not, as I watched the episode myself and found it really good. It’s amazing to think about a year ago you weren’t keen on the announcement of Jodie Whittaker becoming the new Doctor. Now you seem to be over-the-moon about it. I think Jodie Whittaker has made the part her own despite almost sounding like a female version of David Tennant’s Doctor. I hope her Doctor will develop gradually in Series 11 and it seems to be the case due to the quality of writing in the first episode.

      Yeah I agree. Michelle Gomez’s performance as Missy gave us doubt about whether a female Doctor was possible. Clearly from the writing for Missy’s character, Steven Moffat was playing it for laughs whereas he should have taken it more seriously in order for us as an audience to be intimidated by the character. That also seems to be the case with Joanna Lumley’s Doctor in ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’. I’m glad Chris Chibnall didn’t go down that route and Jodie works to the script’s strengths by playing a female Doctor who was realistic, believable, funny and easy to like and see on screen. I hoped this would be the case for Jodie after seeing her ‘Trust Me’ back in December 2017 and I’m glad that waiting’s paid off.

      I like the new companions too. I hope there’ll be more development for them in future episodes. I’m sure Yaz will get an episode of development for herself as well as Graham and Ryan. I’m guessing it’ll be the same with how Nyssa, Tegan and Adric got character specific stories in Season 19 with Peter Davison. At least I hope so. I love the new ‘Doctor Who’ theme music. I find myself playing it all the time and find it better than the previous Murray Gold theme tunes used for the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi eras. I hope the theme music will match well to the opening titles sequence in ‘The Ghost Monument’ next time.

      I look forward to seeing your new Thirteenth Doctor illustration sometime soon, Simon. Thanks for your kind comments on my review. I’m very pleased you enjoyed ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ and love Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. I’m looking forward to next week now to see ‘The Ghost Monument’. Can’t wait.

      Many thanks.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

  2. Yes I wasn’t happy was I & i had pm posts on another forum saying I sold out & two faced, my reply was I could say nothing & nobody be wiser but Jodie did what I thought impossible she convinced me a female Doctor can work & I’m man enough to admit I was wrong,

    Is it just me Tim or is there a freshness to it, somehow there’s a more mature tone, this could be really good Tim, bit worried no classic monsters this season but hopefully Jodies Doctor be battling the Daleks & Cybermen soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, there does seem to be a gritty realism to the series especially in the first episode with it being earthbound and more grounded in reality compared to the fantasy elements in the Steven Moffat era. It feels less silly in the new era of ‘Doctor Who’ under Chris Chibnall. I’m hoping that will be maintained for the rest of the season especially as I wait to find out what the rest of the season will be like with episodes titles coming in and new writers appointed to those episodes. I know Malorie Blackman who wrote the Seventh Doctor and Ace short story ‘The Ripple Effect’ with the Daleks and that was pretty good to read/listen to.

      Yeah it does feel a shame that there aren’t any classic monsters like Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans in this season. I can appreciate that mind, since we need to get to know our main characters in the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz before we see them facing classic monsters. I hope Jodie’s Doctor will get to face Daleks and Cybermen at some point in her era. But who knows, maybe there’ll be a surprise return for these monsters at some point in this season. Maybe we’ll get an ‘Earthshock’-styled reveal of Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans or something like that. Mind you, the Daleks and Cybermen have been done to death lately during the Steven Moffat era and not too well in my humble opinion. If we’re going to get any new Dalek and Cybermen stories, we need a fresh take on them and I’m sure that’ll be provided by Chris Chibnall and his writing team in episodes to come.

      Thanks Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

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  3. Hi again Tim,

    Just wanted to say that I loved it too. I was not one of the people who had reservations about a female Doctor – quite the reverse, I found the premise intriguing rather than a potential threat to the series, especially when I saw the ‘reveal’ last year – Whittaker seemed Doctorish right from the start to me. (Does she remind anyone else of the Fifth Doctor? Maybe it is just the hair but it seems to me that she has picked up some of his mannerisms too.)

    The first episode did have a few slow moments but overall seemed like a solid start and the visuals were gorgeous, particularly the scenes in the industrial facilities with that fantastic lighting. I like the companions so far – ordinary enough to be identifiable with, but intriguing rather than generic. Ryan seems to be the most clearly defined so far, Graham almost as much, and we haven’t seen much backstory for Yas yet but perhaps that will come later. There was another character who would have made a great companion too and it seems a shame they decided not to go with this – it was also a pity that we could see this coming, knowing who would be the new Doctor’s companions. I wonder how the dyspraxia storyline will play out, and I hope that will be dealt with sensitively. I really felt for Ryan especially when they were climbing the crane, because I’m not good at all with heights!

    Anyway, a good start! Some of my favourite bits were the Sheffield steel and welding goggles, the charity shop, Yas defusing that argument between the two women, the cranes, trains and automobiles and some suitably creepy monsters and Space Garlic.

    Looking forward to the next episode!
    Vicky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vicky.

      Very nice to hear from you again. Many thanks for your comments on my review for ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ and very pleased you enjoyed the episode too.

      I was on the fence about a female Doctor, hoping it would work despite some concerns I had following the announcement. At the same time though, I was really looking forward to seeing the new season of ‘Doctor Who’ and was getting excited about it in the run-up to Series 22, watching the trailers; previews and teasers and even subscribing to the ‘Doctor Who’ YouTube channel to watch those trailers; previews and teasers.

      Yeah I’d like to think there are elements of Peter Davison and David Tennant in Jodie Whittaker’s performance as the Doctor so far. I hoped it would be the case that Jodie would have a Peter Davison-esque style of performance in her Doctor, especially with the blond hair and pleasant attitude to life. I’m hoping by the end of Series 11 that Jodie will become one of my favourite Doctors alongside Peter Davison and David Tennant. So far, it’s proving to be the case.

      I don’t mind admiting that there were slow moments in the episode and it did take a while for Jodie’s Doctor to make an appearance in the episode. But at the same time, I did feel the episode’s pacing was better compared to previous episodes I’d seen. Most of the episodes during the Steven Moffat era felt like they were rush-rush-rush, but with this episode I felt I could take my time with absorbing what was happening in the story. There were things that were quite complex and there was a lot to take in, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment and I felt the structure of the episode was pretty coherent.

      Ryan stands out well for me as a character so far in the series. I hope his character will continue to develop especially with the dyspraxia problem he has which was interesting. I’m sure it’ll be handled sensitively as the season goes on. Graham was fairly interesting as a character, especially to the point when it was revealed he had cancer and how he had married Grace beforehand. I found Bradley Walsh’s acting in the episode pretty good and I hope his character will continue to develop further. I can see why people found Yaz’s character a bit underused in the episode, but I still liked her and hopefully there’ll be an episode dedicated to her character later on in the season. I liked that moment when Yaz seemed to be taking charge for a moment and the Doctor questioned her about what she’s going to say to the police. It was also nice to see a connection between Ryan and Yaz as they seem to know each other beforehand. Maybe this will be developed into something between them as characters, but we’ll have to wait and see.

      I want to see this episode again as I really enjoyed it with my parents on BBC iPlayer via our home computer. I hope to watch the episode again soon before seeing the second episode next Sunday.

      Many thanks for your comments, Vicky. Glad you enjoyed the episode.

      Tim. 🙂

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  4. I was not keen on the idea of a female Dr but I put that aside and gave it a chance I honestly did, and I think it could work with a female lead but not JW she is not right for the role – she is imo too weak, lacks the presence and gravitas needed to be the focal point. And when she starts calling the companions my gang and ‘team’ and it was so cringe worthy I wanted to switch off! I’d prefer the show ended last Xmas than carry on like this.

    And I have not even mentioned the endless social justice agenda being forced upon us; Asian companion ‘tick’ black companion ‘tick’, interracial marriage, ‘tick’ token old guy ‘tick’, I am sad to see the show I loved degenerate into this which feels very much aimed at teenagers now. I must be getting old!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ishvar.

      Thanks for sharing your honest opinion about the latest ‘Doctor Who’ episode.

      I’m sorry you feel that way and that the new season as well as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor didn’t please you. Most of the people I’ve encountered sharing their thoughts on Jodie’s Doctor as well as the first episode has been positive. Even Timelord007 admits he enjoyed the episode and claims to love Jodie’s Doctor, after he was against the casting decision and announcement from the start. I hoped Jodie’s Doctor might be able to change your mind after the announcement was made, but sadly it seems not to be.

      I can’t agree with your opinion I’m afraid, but I appreciate how you feel. I love Jodie’s Doctor so far and I’m in the hope Series 11 will be great for the rest of the season. So far it seems to be proving the case for me. I didn’t feel any ‘social justice agenda’ was being forced upon me as a viewer since I was enjoying the episode very much. As far as I was concerned, the storytelling was great; the acting good and the characters were being well-developed compared to the underwhelming character development and over-complicated storytelling in the Steven Moffat era.

      You’re the first person I’ve come across who seems to show a dislike towards the latest season and new Doctor in Jodie Whittaker so far. I hoped that wouldn’t be the case, but then again I shouldn’t be surprised since I know the new ‘Doctor Who’ series and Jodie Whittaker won’t please everybody. I’m not bringing in any political correctness and gender equality stuff into my reviews for these ‘Doctor Who’ episodes, since I’m not an expert on that front and I don’t particularly want to go into that area when it comes to reviewing ‘Doctor Who’. I want to enjoy ‘Doctor Who’ for what it is for the moment and then make a final verdict on Jodie’s Doctor at the end. I feel Series 11 should speak for itself and let it stand on its own. For me, it’s working so far. I’m sorry it’s not working the same on you, but again I appreciate how you feel about this.

      Thanks again for your comments, Ishvar. I hope I’ll get to see you again someday at another convention or comic con soon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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