With the knowledge that Peter Capaldi is set to leave, and we also have a new companion, I will admit I was worried about the new series of Doctor Who. With a name like The Pilot though, that insinuates a brand-new start for this show, but is this the names only meaning?
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) are at a university, where they meet Bill (Pearl Mackie). The Doctor agrees to help Bill become a student, and help her with her studies, but it isn’t long before his new friend discovers an alien threat in a strange puddle on the campus grounds.
I will admit that while I was looking forward to the return of Doctor Who, I wasn’t totally convinced from the adverts that I’d seen so far. The news of a returning character did a lot to get my interest back, but I still needed something to truly re-ignite my enthusiasm for the show.
Thankfully this comes in the form of Pearl Mackie, who quite honestly is going to be a very good companion for The Doctor. It really is a shame that Capaldi is leaving after this season because he works well with Mackie, and this team feels refreshing (and yes, I mean the team including Nardole).
What I like about Bill is the fact she is a strong character, and in many ways tests The Doctor without the level of arrogance that some former companions have had, and yes I do mean Clara (Jenna Coleman). Her “strength” often was to ignore what The Doctor was trying to do, and simply get herself in more trouble. Bill is different, and loses none of her strength for joining The Doctor for the ride.
The story for this first episode of Doctor Who is also an interesting one, hitting themes that have worked in the past for Steven Moffat, who writes this one. There are creepy moments, but not to the level of Blink, but it is more about the nature of the threat and the fact it may not necessary be evil that actually works in The Pilot.
What we are given with The Pilot is an interesting episode that introduces a story arc for this season, a good new companion, and a strong Doctor who appears to be looking to the past for answers. We see this in the pictures he has in his office, and the sonic screwdrivers that he appears to be stocking up on (from all the past eras of the character). This may be hinting at the regeneration we know is coming, or maybe the evil that he is trying to literally keep beyond a locked door. We’ll see more as the season moves on.
The Pilot is a good return to form for Doctor Who, and any worries that a new companion brings with them should be dispelled with Pearl Mackie. Her performance, and the character herself are a welcome addition to Doctor Who, and hopefully even when The Doctor regenerates, she will stay on for whoever the new regeneration will be.
Doctor Who airs in the UK on BBC 1 on Saturdays.