‘The Pilot’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

A Time For Heroes – Welcome To The TARDIS, Bill Potts

(sighs) The nostalgia of 2017.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when a certain era of ‘Doctor Who’ was coming to an end. But that’s exactly what happened when showrunner Steven Moffat’s final year of ‘Doctor Who’ presented itself in his final season on BBC TV and it was shown in the spring to the summer of 2017.

It was also Peter Capaldi’s final season as the Twelfth Doctor. The announcement about Peter Capaldi’s departure from ‘Doctor Who’ was made in January 2017. I shared some thoughts about this news regarding Peter Capaldi’s departure on my blog. I was saddened and surprised about it all.

I’m sure it was a bit of a surprise to many ‘Doctor Who’ fans when they heard the news. I was saddened about Peter Capaldi leaving ‘Doctor Who’ since I had expected him to stay on after Steven Moffat left the series as showrunner and handed the reins to Chris Chibnall. Sadly this was not to be!

I feel rather sorry for Peter Capaldi as I don’t think his era was that long enough. Peter Capaldi started playing the Doctor in 2014 with ‘Deep Breath’. He had done two seasons with Series 8 in 2014 and Series 9 in 2015. His third season of ‘Doctor Who’, Series 10, was to be aired for April 2017.

Technically 2017 was Peter Capaldi’s fourth year as the Doctor, but I don’t think it was his fourth year as he never had a third season in 2016. 2016 had an absence of a ‘Doctor Who’ series. We only had ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’ Christmas Special. It’s a shame Series 10 was his final TV season.

I’ve enjoyed Peter Capaldi’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ in a strange way. It hasn’t been the best compared to the other eras I’ve enjoyed like Peter Davison’s and David Tennant’s. But I’ve enjoyed Capaldi’s interesting interpretation of the Doctor, as he clearly had a good time playing the role of his dreams.

I wondered what was to come after Peter Capaldi and who would take on the role of the Doctor after he was gone. Who would be the next Doctor under Chris Chibnall’s regime? My personal preference was Alistair Mackenzie from ‘Monarch of the Glen’, but he was already Adric Traken! 😀

At the time Peter Capaldi announced he was leaving ‘Doctor Who’, I made a joke on my blog that we could end up having a woman playing the Doctor. I didn’t think that would happen but nowadays it’s become a reality. It is ironic to look back on what your initial predictions were for the show’s future.

Regardless, I hope it’s not the complete end of Peter Capaldi’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ in Series 10. I was looking forward to seeing the season of course and at present I hope one day Peter Capaldi will reprise his role as the Twelfth Doctor in some Big Finish audios. They did with Ten! Why not with Twelve?

Anyway, Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ is a season that I look back on with fond memories. It’s not the greatest season I’ve seen in the show’s history, but I have a personal connection to Series 10. It was the first ‘Doctor Who’ season that I reviewed on my blog from the episodes’ initial TV transmissions.

Beforehand I had reviewed ‘The Husbands of River Song’ and ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’ on my blog from their initial transmissions. It was strange and eerie to go through, compared to reviewing standalone Christmas Specials of ‘Doctor Who’. It was an exciting time for me and one I cherish a lot.

But I suppose we should actually get started on talking about Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’.

The season begins with ‘The Pilot’ (an unusual title for a ‘Doctor Who’ episode in my opinion. 😀 ) I saw this episode on Easter Saturday in April 2017 at 7.20pm. I enjoyed this opening tale of Series 10!

The episode of course introduces us to the Doctor’s new companion, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts. Now I have to raise something about Bill Potts and it’s when she was first announced as the new companion.

Pearl Mackie was announced to the world as the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion in April 2016. I didn’t react to the announcement on my blog, although it was presented in this pretty stunning sequence.

The reason why I didn’t react to the news of Pearl Mackie as the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion is because…well, I didn’t really know much about her. And I wasn’t sure it worth reacting to back then.

Nowadays I’ve amended my approach to react to certain pieces of ‘Doctor Who’ news when needed. I wasn’t sure what to make of Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts back then, but I was looking forward to seeing her.

After seeing ‘The Pilot’ and Series 10 overall, I really like Bill as the companion. ‘The Pilot’ is a decent introduction to Pearl Mackie as Bill and it was so interesting to discover who she was as a character.

I’ve now had the pleasure of meeting Pearl Mackie in real-life at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017. It was a short but pleasant meeting and I enjoyed chatting to Pearl at the event.

I’ve even shared with Pearl what my favourite episodes from Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ were. I’ll get into more about what I consider my favourite episodes of Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ in other reviews.

I did like that first scene where Bill meets the Doctor in his university professor’s office. You can clearly see in the scene that Bill and the Twelfth Doctor spark off each other and get on so well here.

But yeah, as you probably saw in that YouTube clip, the episode takes place at a university – St. Luke’s University apparently. And yes, it seems that the Doctor has lectured there for over 50 years.

My, the Doctor has aged well. 😀 In her debut, Bill happens to be a canteen girl…a dinner lady if you will. Her job in life to serve chips to university students – day in; day out. Life must be great for Bill. 😀

Bill does seem to be an uninspiring companion for the Doctor at first. But as the episode progresses, the Doctor grows to like Bill as he offers to be her tutor at St. Luke’s University. To this, she accepts.

It’s interesting that Bill happens to be working as a dinner lady at the university, yet she still attends the Doctor’s lectures. It’s also so interesting that the Doctor has become a lecturer at this university.

The Doctor’s move of laying low at this stage in his life reminds me a bit of Professor Chronotis from ‘Shada’. I’m not sure if that’s the inspiration Steven Moffat went for writing this story, but it is good.

And yes, Steven Moffat is the writer as usual for the first episode of his final season of ‘Doctor Who’. Now to be fair, it is good he is starting afresh with this season, especially with introducing Bill Potts.

But after about seven years of his era, there is a sense of the show getting tired by this point. And it’s not just with the writing. It’s also in terms of the direction of the episodes being very fast-paced.

This is also evident in some of the editing, especially with this episode. I appreciate the fast pace needed to keep the audience interested, but for me it does feel too fast-paced to follow the stories.

Despite that, Pearl Mackie makes a good first impression as the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion in Bill. I admit I was personally still missing Jenna Coleman as Clara from the previous ‘Doctor Who’ season.

But I did get used to Bill over time. It’s also interesting to point out that Bill happens to be gay. This was quite an interesting, new approach to a regular ‘Doctor Who’ companion through the TV series.

Yeah, I know it’s been done before with Captain Jack Harkness in terms of his sexuality. But this is the first time I believe it’s done for a regular female companion instead of one reoccurring character.

I was a little anxious that the gay aspects to Bill’s character might be played up to an extreme like it was for Captain Jack in ‘Torchwood’. Thankfully it wasn’t and it was so intriguing to see it presented.

I was still able to enjoy Bill’s character in the series. She came across as friendly; spunky and pretty feisty. This was demonstrated in the clothes she wore and how she was interacting with the Doctor.

Oh by the way, this episode takes the duration from 2016 to 2017. We even have a Christmas scene between the Doctor and Bill in his university office. My, my, how time flies by when you have fun. 😀

I found Bill’s reaction to both the TARDIS and the concept of travelling in time and space really good and realistic. I did think it a bit odd of Bill describing the TARDIS as a kitchen and asking for the toilet.

But when she said the TARDIS was ‘bigger on the inside than on the outside’, I felt relieved and was convinced Bill was the new companion. It is those moments of reaction that make it feel reassuring.

I also think anyone coming across the Doctor and his time machine would find it an awesome and somewhat scary experience! I was so impressed with how Pearl Mackie made her debut as Bill Potts.

I hoped that if the first episode was anything to go by, Bill would become an impressive and effective companion in the series. Despite the hiccups of Series 10, Bill still remained a popular hit with fans. 🙂

Whilst Bill’s debut was impressive, I did find the story to be pretty average. It’s about Bill coming across another girl whom she fancies, Stephanie Hyam as Heather. Heather looks down in a puddle.

Apparently the puddle doesn’t match Heather’s reflection, nor does it match Bill’s and the Doctor’s. Soon Heather becomes a flood-like creature as she soon starts chasing the Doctor, Bill and Nardole.

Oh yeah, Matt Lucas stars as Nardole in Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ and he’s also a companion of the Twelfth Doctor. I did feel Nardole didn’t do very much in Series 10, especially for the season opener.

I mean, yes, he is there to provide comic relief in the TARDIS and he’s supposed to have this strange role of keeping the Doctor grounded on the Earth. This is connected to some promise by the Doctor.

But somehow I didn’t feel Nardole inspired me that much in terms of being a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. I prefer Bill as a companion over Nardole, but I guess he did have some kind of purpose.

Apparently, as well as lecturing students at St. Luke’s University with his ‘unique’ lectures, the Doctor and Nardole have to guard a certain underground vault. We’ll get back to that another time.

But like I said, Heather as the flood creature (no connection to ‘The Waters of Mars’ sadly), chases the TARDIS trio wherever they go in time and space. The trio goes to many places during this chase.

As well as the underground vault, the TARDIS trio also goes to Sydney, Australia; an alien planet and a war zone featuring the Daleks. Oh yes! The Daleks appear in this! I wondered where they were. 😀

I was rather disappointed that they didn’t turn out to be the main baddies in this episode. I was expecting them to be, especially with being promoted for this TV story. But it was great to see them.

And also…oh my goodness! The Movellans from ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ are in this episode! I was thrilled to bits to see them in this! It’s only for a few brief moments, but they had Movellans in this!

Peter Capaldi is especially good as the Doctor in this episode. I like how he interacts with Bill in this episode and seems keen to take her on board, first as his pupil and then as his travelling companion.

I don’t think Peter Capaldi’s appearance is a standout one, but it was interesting to discover his new university position. I did wonder why he was a university lecturer and what made him become that.

The last few scenes between the Doctor and Bill were mesmerising to watch. The Doctor is about to wipe Bill’s memory but she asks him not to. It was tense when he didn’t and demanded Bill to leave.

The Doctor was about to do exactly what he did to Donna in ‘Journey’s End’. But Bill’s arguments on what it would feel like should the same be done to him persuades the Doctor not to mind-wipe her.

By the way, I noticed the Doctor having two picture frames of his granddaughter Susan and…his wife River Song in the university office. He tells them and the TARDIS to ‘shut up’ when he looks at them.

A theory occurred to me! As River Song is the Doctor’s wife and Susan is the Doctor’s granddaughter, it makes me wonder whether River is actually the grandmother of I DON’T WANT TO GO THERE!!!!! 😀

Thankfully, the Doctor returns for Bill when she’s leaving the university building (which is in Cardiff I’m sure). The Doctor invites her to be his new companion in the TARDIS. Bill readily enters the box.

So ‘The Pilot’ is a good opening episode to Series 10 of ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed watching it. It’s not the best season opener, but it is a quite decent start to Bill as the new companion by Steven Moffat.

I wondered where the series would go next with Bill aboard the TARDIS with the Doctor and Nardole. Even my Dad found himself enjoying the episode as he watched it. He did not fall asleep. 😀

The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 1 of ‘Series 10 – Part 1’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s ‘The Pilot’ – Inside Look’ featurette.

On Disc 1 of ‘The Complete Series 10’ of ‘Doctor Who’, ‘The Pilot’ – Inside Look’ featurette can also be found on there. There’s also the ‘Becoming the Companion’ documentary and the ‘Out of this World’ featurette with Ingrid Oliver. There’s also a commentary with Pearl Mackie and writer/executive producer Steven Moffat. On Disc 6, there’s the ‘Doctor Who: The Fan Show – The Aftershow’ edition for this episode.

‘The Pilot’ rating – 7/10

The previous story

For the Twelfth Doctor was

  • ‘Regeneration Impossible’ (ST/Audio)

For Nardole was

  • ‘Girl Power!’ (Book)

For the Daleks was

The next story

For the Twelfth Doctor is

For Bill is

For Nardole is

For the Daleks was

  • ‘Doctor Who and the Dogs of Doom’ (Comic)
Return to The Twelfth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Bill’s Timeline
Return to Nardole’s Timeline
Return to The Daleks’ Timeline
Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index
Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index
Return to The Monsters’ Timelines Index
Return to Doctor Who Timelines
Return to Doctor Who
Return to Sci-Fi

2 thoughts on “‘The Pilot’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Yeah a fair rating this series opener, Bill makes a impressive debut but ain’t feeling the drama of the plot as you quite rightly say it’s pacing is to fast.

    Yeah a very average episodes which Doctor Who should never be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you agree with my rating on ‘The Pilot’. I really like how Bill Potts get introduced as the new companion in ‘Doctor Who’, but it’s a shame the season opener isn’t impressive as it should be. It’s often the case with these season openers being average compared to finales that are meant to be dramatic and explosive. But I don’t think the case applies here for Series 10.

      Glad you enjoyed my review and pleased you agree with my thoughts about the pacing on the episode being too fast.

      Tim. 🙂



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