Doctor Who: The Pilot

It’s been far too long since we had regular episodes, so it’s probably wise for me to revive this old thing:

While I’m not planning to go into a lot of plot details, it’s likely that the random mutterings that follow will reveal some things you might prefer not to know if you haven’t seen the episode yet, so in my usual way, I’ll include this warning:

Here be spoilers!

This episode was deliberately designed to be if not a reboot, then a good point at which new viewers could start watching without needing to know anything about the series. It seemed to me to handle that nicely, while including enough nods, nudges and winks for long term viewers so we didn’t have to feel left out.

Rather like Rose, which brought the show back in 2005, The Pilot is told from the viewpoint of the companion, in this case Bill Potts. Bill is an intelligent young woman at a university. For whatever reason, she’s not an actual student, she’s working in the canteen, serving chips. But being clever and curious, she’s been attending the lectures presented by a more bonkers than average academic, who’s been there for decades, but never seems to get any older. And nobody knows his actual name, they just call him the Doctor.

And the Doctor has noticed Bill. He summons her to his suitably fancy rooms where he offers to become her private tutor. He’s clearly a man with an interesting background, with family photos on his desk, who we recognise as River Song (his wife in a suitably complicated wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey way) and Susan (his granddaughter, in presumably the traditional way, but we’ve never really been told). He’s also got a jar full of sonic screwdrivers, though Bill wouldn’t know that.

Oh, and he’s got this blue box. Far too big to have been brought into the room in one piece, but he insists it did, claiming to have had part of the wall removed, and a crane employed (what with it being heavier than it looks).

Of course, you have to have some kind of alien threat to make things interesting, and there is one of those, but it’s pretty much a sideline to all the clever bits being set up, so I’ll leave that as a surprise for anyone who hasn’t watched it and is odd enough to be reading this, other than suggesting that Bill needs to choose her girlfriends a wee bit more carefully in future…

The question we (as people more familiar with the Doctor than Bill) might be asking, is why has he been lurking in a university in Bristol, apparently for decades, accompanied by Nardole? Did I mention Nardole’s still with him? Well, there’s this Mysterious Vault in the basement, and it seems he’s supposed to be guarding it, having made some kind of promise to somebody. Now whether the vault is protecting something or imprisoning something is yet to be revealed, but it looks suspiciously like a thread that will be followed this year.

Bill looks like an interesting character – bright, funny, and not even remotely likely to take any nonsense from the Doctor or anyone else.  For instance, she actually asks a question we’ve all been wondering about. Why does the Doctor run like that? Like what?

Like a penguin with its arse on fire

And after the eventual “bigger on the inside” bit, and so on and so forth, she asks if the Doctor is from space, to which he helpfully answers

Nobody’s from space. I’m from a planet like everyone else

Which is probably the current version of

Lots of planets have a north

And she also asks one of those questions that’s surely been nagging in a lot of minds. Given that the Doctor is indeed not from around here, why is the name of his ship a convenient acronym in English?

An excellent question, which will probably never be answered.

As always, there’s much more that could be said, but I’ll leave it at that.

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