The new season of Doctor Who has started. We have our first female Doctor, played by Jodi Whittaker. We have a new TARDIS. We have a new show runner and I believe a full new creative staff putting it all together.
So at four episodes in, what does this all mean?
Our first episode, The Women Who Fell to Earth, did what it needed to do with the basic introduction of the new Doctor. The story was decent, nothing special. It let us see the new Doctor in action and gave us some feel for her three new companions.
My main problem with this first episode was it felt rushed. There were jokes in there that seemed good, but had bad timing on them for a proper reaction. There was enough filler shots in there that they could have told us the same story at a better pace if they had tried.
Next we have The Ghost Monument, which worked for me. Nothing special in it, but it felt like Doctor Who. It had some interesting concepts in it and flowed well enough.
We get to see the new TARDIS. Small changes on the outside, big changes on the inside. Did not feel comfortable with it all at first. It really was a bit off putting with just how dramatic the changes were.
Then we come to Rosa. This is the episode that the season will most likely be remembered for. It focuses on Rosa Park and everything going on around the historic event.
Dealing with such a topic is a tricky thing, but they pulled it off and made a truly memorable episode. It was unapologetically honest and political, not holding back at all with its message and just where we are at today with the same issues.
A few funny moments where the black companion Ryan is fan-boying over Martin Luther King Jr before he becomes known, after having done the same with Rosa Park.
This episode introduced a new character of Krasko, who is a criminal from the future and was trying to change time due to racist ideals. I get the feeling he will be returning due to all that was given to use about him.
My only real issue with this episode was that the Doctor seemed to go out of her way to NOT refer to the TARDIS as 'her' or 'she'. This felt really awkward to me. The Doctor has always referred to the TARDIS as being female, which is not unusual as we traditionally refer to our various types of ships in the feminine. Just because we now have a female Doctor does not mean the TARDIS should be an it now. If anything there might be some awkwardness between the two of them now due to the kind of relationship they have had in the past.
Then we get to the fourth episode of this season, Arachnids in the UK. This is one that is better forgotten and ignored. There was nothing interesting or of value in it. Our villain for the episode was a truly unconvincing character that felt like a poor parody of Trump in many ways. He had no real motivation to most of what he does in the episode, with much of his actions feeling fully forced. Regretfully I got the impression he would be back in the future.
The story itself tried to be political, but failed at that big time. Felt more preachy than anything, not living up to what it needed to be.
Then we get really, really bad science with giant spiders, larger than a person, walking on the walls and ceilings. It really was too much for me. Then they go scientific and talk about the problems the spider would have breathing once it got that large. So it really bothered me that they tried to get real science into it after showing a full lack of caring before that.
What really bothered me the most about this episode was the big solution that did not feel like a real solution. Besides the gap after gap in logic that was used, a big one being they could not know how many spiders were out there, they were confident they got them all. Through out the episode, the Doctor goes on about the spiders being living creatures and deserving respect and should not be killed, then goes and traps them in a confined space where they will be slowly starve to death. Uh, how is that better than killing them out right? How does making them suffer count as a natural death? For me this painted the Doctor as unusually cruel and thoughtless, which is what we are supposed to believe the villain is. And then the villain shoots the largest of the spiders, which upsets the Doctor, because she would rather see it suffer and die slowly through suffocation. Really did not work for me at all.
So we're four episodes in and I like the new Doctor, but we seem to be going up and down episode wise. We'll see where things go. I don't expect every episode to be great, but there is a lot of rough edges here that need to be worked out. One being too many companions. There were a few times where you just had three people blindly following the Doctor around with nothing else to do. I get it, ti is hard to make sure they are each doing their own thing all the time, but it is obvious at times they are just there because they are there.
It's going to be the shortest season since they started the program up again. Will be interesting to see where it all goes from here. There is no doubt they are openly being more political than ever. That does not bothers me if the stories are good. Problem is with that last one, story seemed to have been something they put in as an after thought.