I have just finished watching episode 1 of series 11 of Doctor Who, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, the one where the Doctor turns into a woman (Jodie Whittaker to be precise), and I am cautiously hopeful. I must admit I was prepared for the show to go either way, enjoyable fun or disappointing fan service – I have been let down by Doctor Who before – but it was fun.

I have gotten excited for a reboot of Doctor Who several times over the years but the show has dashed my hopes as often as it has lived up to my expectations. I think this time, though – just maybe – the show has done enough. I can maybe even recommend it to a non-fan as good enough to actually watch.

The thing with Doctor Who is that it can not be judged as if it were just any other show. It is not a normal show, and making a good episode is like catching lightning in a bottle. Most of the time that just doesn’t happen. It is a show that has always been objectively bad, with bad acting, bad writing and bad special effects. This was less noticeable back when a lot of TV had such problems with quality, so people didn’t expect too much, but in today’s golden age of TV the relative weakness of the average Doctor Who episode is very, very noticeable indeed.

But that doesn’t necessarily matter. The reason you watch Doctor Who is not necessarily that it is objectively good, it just needs to be good enough to be watchable, and then you can enjoy the unique things that Doctor Who has to offer. You can enjoy the show’s unique premise, along with its central character, the alien time traveler known as the Doctor. So, by these low standards, was this new episode a success?

Jodie Whittaker is our brand new Doctor, the thirteenth, and her first episode was wobbly. The plot of the entire thing was ripped off from Predator, and an important character to the episode was killed for no reason that was obvious to me, so I’m guessing… feels? On the other hand, Jodie Whittaker was great as the Doctor and the special effects were… not great… but not deal-breakingly bad either.

I loved every moment that Jodie Whittaker was on screen, surrounded by wooden acting and bad special effects, but giving an idiosyncratic and enjoyable performance – of the kind Tom Baker was famous for – that pulled it all together. She sold the action, even when none of it made sense. And when I say it didn’t make sense, I mean it.

The monster of the week was a mix of a creepypasta and a motorbike courier. He could teleport, except when he couldn’t. He killed ruthlessly, except when he didn’t. The Doctor’s new companions trusted her instantly, even though there was no reason for them to see her as anything but a stranger with mental health issues. It was, in short, a badly written mess and without Jodie Whittaker it wouldn’t have worked at all. With Jodie Whittaker it was good. She lit up the screen with her performance, papering over the cracks in the plot by sheer force of personality, anchoring the ensemble with her experience and gravitas, and it worked… just. Only just.

For now, I’m going to consider myself jumped back in. I’ll be there next week to watch the next episode.

Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy)

Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

Galaxy Dog is an epic space opera. What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet, brings to light an ancient archaeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy. This is the story of his rise, and the story of the fierce and independent woman and the feisty robot who help him.