TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ S10 EP01 “The Pilot”

Guess Who’s back…

Starring:  Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas

Written by:  Steven Moffat / Episodes directed by: Lawrence Gough / aired in the UK and U.S. :  15/04/2017

What’s it about?

Posing as a university lecturer, the Doctor’s path crosses with a promising new student and a mysterious threat…

Episode review

After an extended break, Doctor Who returns with its first full new series since 2015 (only Christmas special “The Return of Doctor Mysterio“ aired during 2016) uniting Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor with new companion Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie.

Doctor Who has always thrived on reinventing and refreshing itself and although this most successfully occurs with a change in lead actor – the Doctor regenerating into a new ‘version’ of himself – “The Pilot” feels, from the outset somewhat like a series with a renewed perspective.  Granted, series 9 of modern Who was generally strong but with the darkness surrounding the loss of Clara and the Doctor’s grappling with his own demons it’s welcome to see the show return to a lighter and purely adventurous tone.

Outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat (who departs along with Peter Capaldi this year) delivers a fairly simple script that’s in measures, fun, exciting, scary and peppers in just the right amount of detail to establish the lore and universe of Doctor Who for new viewers without bogging the episode down in its expansive and – in places – messy history (Moffat doesn’t forget the fans though by including some delightful Easter eggs).  Moffat’s basic ‘water monster’ plot is easy enough to follow – no ‘timey-wimey’ convolutions here – throwing in a number of behind-the-sofa scares amongst smatterings of cheeky humour and intrigue (what could be behind that mysterious vault beneath the university campus?).

Capaldi makes an assured return as the Doctor and once again excels in the role but it’s Pearl Mackie’s introduction that proves the most significant highlight in a wide-eyed and affable performance that keeps proceedings as grounded and believable as possible against the otherworldly alien-ness of the Doctor’s world.  Capaldi and Mackie hit it off right from the start, their dynamic solidified as Bill’s curiosity is rewarded with an invitation into the TARDIS (made all the more memorable by Bill’s longer than usual realisation of its true nature)…and a run-in with the Daleks for good measure!

Less fortunate is returning (from the 2015 and 2016 Christmas specials) companion Nardole, with Matt Lucas given little to do other than…well, just hang around really.  Yet, this episode is more about Bill and no doubt there will be more opportunities to explore Nardole as the series progresses and the relationship of the new TARDIS team develops.

If “The Pilot” is representative of the rest of the series then outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat should exit on a creative high, the closing ‘coming soon’ tease (classic Cybermen! Missy! John Simm! Regeneration!) certain to whet viewers’ appetites for the adventures that lie ahead.

The bottom line:  Doctor Who makes a welcome return with a promising new companion in a highly entertaining reintroduction to the series.

Doctor Who airs in the UK Saturday evenings on BBC One.  US viewers can catch it on BBC America.

Doctor Who S10 prem

Read for new worlds and new adventures: the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) with the newest member of the TARDIS crew, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie).

What did you think of the ‘Doctor Who’ season premiere?  Share your thoughts below!

9 thoughts on “TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ S10 EP01 “The Pilot”

    • Glad you enjoyed it also Paul, I think we’ve got a great series ahead of us and hopefully Pearl Mackie will stay onboard beyond the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration.

      • Cheers. Yes, I think we are in for an exciting season. Can’t wait to see how the original Cybemen return, that will be exciting. I hope Pearl Mackie stays around as well for another season, really like the character. We shall have to wait and see 🙂

  1. Sounds like even 10 season in, the series continues to strive for success. You think they’ll ever “end” this? 😀 And I finally understand why there’s so many different “doctors”. Glad to hear you enjoyed this man! 🙂

  2. Thank you my friend! I’m certain that there won’t be an end to Doctor Who any time soon (especially now that it’s a worldwide commercial behemoth for the BBC) – there may be occassions when there’s a longer gap between each new season, which I think can actually be a good thing as it gives the writers a chance to take stock and come back reinvigorated.

    There’s also the Doctor’s periodic regenerations that allow new actors to take on the role and give a new spin on things, that one particular element has been the show’s strongest creative asset since 1966.

  3. Hi Chris! Wish I were into Dr Who more, I only saw a few episodes w/ David Tennant but never really got around to the newer ones. Capaldi will be at the comic con in my city this weekend, but I don’t think I’ll be attending this year.

    • Hi Ruth, yeah I heard Capaldi was going to be doing some appearances. He’s been great as the current incarnation of the Doctor and he’ll be a tough act to follow but I’m non-the-less eager to see where they go when he departs!

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