Today is one of those days when I dearly miss my friend Jason. His birthday is coming up, and also I would love to share the new Doctor Who with him. He’s the friend who introduced me to Doctor Who, who started me on Eighth Doctor, of all places, back when Tennant was Ten. He made lighthearted references to episodes from Nine and Ten’s seasons that I hadn’t seen yet, so that when I watched a moment, I could come back to him and geek out. He was the best kind of fan–the kind who welcomed everyone to come and enjoy.
Other friends, too, shared Doctor Who with me. I stopped watching shortly after the Capaldi seasons started because the writing didn’t hold me the way it used to, or because I didn’t have anyone to directly watch and discuss it with. Probably a bit of both. But, today I shared this new season premiere with two friends.
I think Jason would like Jodi Whittaker as the Doctor. I know I did. There are so many things I can list as reasons why I loved her, so many things I enjoyed about this episode. And from here on there are (mild) spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode, and you don’t want spoilers, turn back.
I loved that she embraced the pure chaos of the regeneration process. I thought she did it magnificently–quirky, off-balance with the changes she was experiencing, yet still fundamentally driven to help the people around her. The Doctor was piecing herself together, parsing herself out, and she does it all while still aligning with her instincts to act, explore, create, build.
I love the Doctor’s new friends, too–and that she calls them friends. I have hope that we’ll see more depth from each over time. I love that they don’t need to be mysteriously linked into some overarching alien plot to merit the Doctor’s attention. Heck, the character who was mysteriously linked into the overarching alien plot, the trophy, could have been replaced by an inanimate object, and I’m honestly cool with that.
In Yaz, our young police officer, I see a drive to be more than others expect of her. She expresses early on that she wants more responsibility–not just parking tickets. She wants someone to take a chance on her. I’m hopeful that her confidence will push her toward challenges where she can prove herself.
In Ryan, there’s so much vulnerability and curiosity. He has a disability that affects coordination, and yet he begins and ends the episode trying to learn how to ride a bike while blogging about his experiences with his disability. When he encounters strange things, he looks more closely. He doesn’t run away. I hope that episodes will reward his curiosity.
In Graham, we have a cancer survivor. There’s a piece of him who reminds me of my own mother, also a cancer survivor. He’s alive and celebrates life while also being acutely aware of mortality. He frets over others’ safety, I suspect, because he knows how fickle life can be. One of my watching friends called him Grandpa Joe, a reference to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and it made me smile.
And, really, could the timing of this premiere be more perfect? I loved that the Doctor was never questioned because she was a woman. She exuded confidence, and the people around her recognized it and listened–just like they would to any other Doctor.
I love it when science fiction imagines the world better than it is. Take me to new planets, Doctor! I look forward to being your friend.