How being the first female Doctor makes a big difference to how kids see their heroes
Fans and critics of Doctor Who have largely praised the first appearance of actress Jodie Whittaker, the only female titular character in the show’s 55-year history.
The Woman Who Fell To Earth, a new episode of the BBC science fiction drama, has just aired in the UK, introducing audiences to Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, a role she claimed in July last year amid increasing calls for it to go to a woman.
It’s a thorough regeneration for the series, which has a new showrunner — Chris Chibnall, who worked with Whittaker on the series Broadchurch — as well as new cast members, a new composer and a new writing team.
What did the Whovians make of it?
Doctor Who Online called it an “evolutional change”, the most significant of its kind since the long-running show was revived in 2005.
That website was among several devoted to the series that labelled the first episode of the 13th Doctor’s reign a success.
It said any fans harbouring doubts about Whittaker as the Doctor should have nothing to fear.
“She encompasses everything The Doctor was and is, and if this episode alone is anything to go by, we hope it is the start of a long tenure in the role,” it said.
Blogtor Who, another site dedicated to the show, said Whittaker was “utterly believable” in the starring role.
“Once she steps out in her new costume and with her beaming smile, there is no question that Whittaker is perfect for the role.”
“Jodie’s performance feels both familiar and unrecognisable, which is surely everything a new Doctor should be.”
The show was trending on Twitter around the world, with fans mostly loving the first episode of season 11.
Mainstream critics had differing views
British tabloid The Daily Mail published two reviews — one positive, one negative.
Christopher Stevens wrote the first episode signalled a welcome return for a show that had lost its way with an unlikeable Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.
“Don’t imagine [Whittaker] is an actress shoehorned into the part by a BBC hierarchy obsessed with gender awareness. This show needed a major change, and that’s what she brings.”
However, Jim Shelley said Whittaker’s Doctor was “relentlessly irritating” and the revamp a tame affair lacking in drama.
“The new showrunner attempted to make his mark on the show by changing so many things the effect was confusing rather than radical and diluted its identity rather than enhance[d] it.”
While The New York Times said the first episode did not pop as much as previous seasons had, Lucy Mangan in The Guardian said the episode revived a show that had become to complex and self-involved.
And as for the Doctor:
“Whittaker was great and will surely become even more so as the series goes on.”
You’ll get the chance to make up your own mind as the episode airs this evening on the ABC at 5:55pm AEDT.