*****SPOILER S10 E1 “The Pilot”*****
The second half of Season 9, finds us faced with a Doctor who is wielding sonic sunglasses and an electric guitar. Personally, I thought Steven Moffat had lost his mind; this is not the Doctor I have come to know and love. Initially, it took me two watch-throughs of Season 8 just to buy into Peter Capaldi as the Doctor (and it wasn’t because he’s old!) and now in Season 9 he is dissolving the very essence that makes him everyone’s favourite Gallifreyan.
During the Easter weekend, I sat down like any good little Whovian and watched the two day Marathon of the Capaldi Seasons. It was during this time that I realized the symbolism of the sunglasses. Clara is heard, in the season finale of Season 9, reminding the Doctor to “be a doctor”. It is at this moment that the TARDIS produces a newly designed sonic screw driver and the love of life sparks back in the doctor’s eyes: he has remembered who he is.
During an InnerSpace interview panel, Moffat described Season 10 as a good place for new viewers to come into the Whovian universe: “series 10 begins the story again”. He explains that the way the season opens allows the viewers to understand the premise of the show without boring returning fans. I was intrigued when I heard him say this and my anticipation for the next hour increased. The season premier opens and we are face to face with our new companion: Bill. I see a lot of potential in Bill’s character, and she would have to do something drastic for me to not buy into her being a companion. The Doctor is a professor at a university, leading a “normal human life”. Something that intrigued me about his office, is that he has two portraits on his desk; one of River Song and one of Susan. There are many subtle nuances in the episode to get seasoned Whovians giddy with excitement.
For a season premier, I found this episode very “lack luster”. Nothing overly dramatic happened; no real “wow” factor. It was a rather calm (in comparison) alien encounter of a sentient oil puddle that reminded me of the episode “The Waters of Mars”. We do, however, encounter the Dalek’s near the end of the episode, while the companions are trying to rid themselves of the sentient being who has possessed a student.
Overall, the season premier has almost all the “important recap details” that it needs to explain the basics to new viewers; the classic companion’s reaction to the TARDIS (this time with a twist), an encounter with alien beings, and a taste of the infamous Dalek’s. However, by way of inciting new viewers to keep watching next week, I feel that it dropped the ball. As a seasoned Whovian (albeit a newer one) I was borderline bored with the plot of “The Pilot”. I have faith that the season will pick up in future episodes, and understand that to “begin the story again”, there needs to be a focus on character development and subtle injections of important past plot points. I just hope that potential Whovians will give the show a chance and tune in to watch the next episode “Smile”.