The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Posted in Episode by - October 08, 2018
The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Aired 07 October 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Each Doctor’s debut episode is understandably a heavily anticipated one as fans eagerly await to see how a new variation of the beloved character fits within the established but likewise changing dynamics of the franchise’s universe and mythology. Yet the casting of Jodie Whitaker set the world alight perhaps more than ever before, a small minority of the population instantly writing her off as a stunt cast simply because of Whittaker’s gender and the state of affairs in the world but the vast majority incredibly excited to see what this charismatic and powerful actress who already had such success with new showrunner Chris Chibnall in Broadchurch would bring. With only two words following Peter Capaldi’s regeneration scene to tide viewers over for more than nine months until her proper debut, ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ finally arrives to allay any concerns about this series that is set to take on more of an ensemble feel with reportedly no reliance on previous foes.

The lack of inherent continuity in this episode is by no means a bad thing as it allows each of the new team members to focus in what by necessity needs to serve as an episode to draw in casual and first-time viewers as much as the long-term fans. With not even the TARDIS featuring, the episode quickly moves past the fact that the Doctor is a woman for the first time with Whitaker instantly making an impact as the Doctor crashes through the roof of a train bound for Sheffield and quickly confronts a tentacled probe creature while explaining to new friend Yas why she should not report this incident to her police superiors or call in for reinforcement just yet. Whittaker gives a commanding performance that maintains the intrinsic quirkiness of the character even as she succumbs to moments of post-regenerative trauma as she tries to establish her identity and re-establish her memories, and the journey the Doctor takes as she builds her own sonic screwdriver and then tracks down an alien hunter she undermines by referring to him as Tim Shaw whom she learns has broken the rules of his initiation ritual is a profound one that forms a solid foundation upon which the Thirteenth Doctor can continue to develop.

Of course, this is a throwback of sorts to the original run of Doctor Who with an expanded core cast, and Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair presents the first entry point into this new world through a video blog in which he describes his time with the most wonderful woman in the world. Suffering from dyspraxia, this is a man who will not be defined by his troubles and who has a fierce determination to offset his vulnerability. Through Ryan’s nan Grace who herself has an intensely compassionate and adventuristic streak as brilliantly played by Sharon D Clarke, viewers are introduced to her second husband, Bradley Walsh’s Graham O’Brien, a more reluctant man grounded in reality who is stern but nonetheless never veers into unsympathetic territory. That he is in remission from cancer gives a unique angle and outlook for this character, and the dramatic fate of Grace who was his nurse and quickly became the heart of this episode as well as his life as the team ultimately proves victorious is sure to weigh on him especially in future stories. Lastly is Ryan’s former classmate, Yasmin Khan played by Mandip Gill, and though her authority as a probationary police officer is naturally undercut by the Doctor’s presence, she represents a viewpoint outside of Ryan’s family unit and proves to be exceedingly capable and congenial in remarkably short order. There, of course, is plenty of room for further development for all of these characters going forward, but the script and performances have managed to achieve an incredible amount already, firmly establishing the foundation for the programme’s new dynamic.

Through both small and seemingly inconsequential moments as well as the more bombastic moments, characterisation is key to ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth,’ but that does mean that the actual plot itself is somewhat more throwaway in nature. In fact, the alien brings with it far too many questions that seem vital to understanding him that are left unanswered, and just why the DNA bombs are not exploded straight away to prevent any witnesses and just how he came to Earth without permission are glaring omissions from his narrative. Likewise, he suggests that his victims are not actually dead, but the Doctor lets this statement pass without considering that there may be a chance at saving them. Still, premiere episodes are notoriously difficult to perfect due to the incredible amount they have to achieve, and it’s a testament to all involved- including new composer Segun Akinola and director Jamie Childs- that this well-paced and visually impressive undertaking that introduces so many new characters succeeds so well, setting the bar high for what looks to be a bold evolution for the series.

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3 Comments on "The Woman Who Fell to Earth"

  • Jessica Johnson

    My review of The Woman who Fell to Earth:
    (by Dave Yadallee) (cutting and pasting)
    Chibnall is not the right show-runner!

    Plot:

    Starts of with Ryan and a special woman on YouTube?

    You are looking incoherent.

    So Ryan and his step-grandfather will share adventure. Love the mixed couple.

    Hate the temper.

    Ryan encounters tree and and alien life form.

    2 women fighting about a scratch and police have to be called in? Pathetic.

    And Policewoman complains about her job!

    Yasmin Khan and Ryan Sinclair meets since Primary? Come one!

    Mixed marriage , Ryan’s stepdad and Grace

    new yawn and the alien that hit Sheffield and the thing that fell to Earth.

    The leaked madame seen. I was a Scotsman … ?

    You violated the Gallifrey / alien bit. Especially when you are an alien!

    Last train .

    Look for a doctor / yourself?!

    Doctor / good friend. The result of overacting!

    Doctor missing TARDIS and definitely not himself in a big way!

    Exciting then worrying . Writing pathetic!

    Alien objective moved. Why?

    Doctor as Whittaker makes Colin Baker look like a genius in the fainting scene.

    Fails at the Tennant in bed recovering scene.

    Doctor still healing? Chibnall you really fail!

    Doctor discovers DNA bomb and trying to resolve? Terrible!

    Alien now hatched and a human is killed.

    Doctor chases alien and explosions and Graham is last to follow line.

    Get a new line!

    Ryan describes incident. Oh my!

    I forgot who I am overdone! I should be able to build something.

    Ryan faults himself and Jas and Ryan believes this woman thing is an alien.

    Nothing creative.

    Doctor Who is dying with Chibnall in charge when the Doctor looks clueless.

    And that sonic device looks like an X-rated prop.

    Video recording and the thief is recording.

    Hate the description of the Sonic Screwdriver. Bad start!

    Alien war with Sheffield as a battleground. Whatever!

    So get them out of Earth range. Sontarans and Rutons come to mind.

    Weaponized biotech. All right one for Chibnall.

    Finally see a toothy alien? Yawn!

    Alien so cold you can kill a human.

    Alien hunt still on.

    Construction site new battle scene.

    I got a plan when I get there. Please! Enough of the old hat!

    The Doctor needing someone to work a crane? I thought The Doctor knew how?!

    Jump and fight. Longer legs needed? More brains please.

    The Doctor thing has the alien recall circuit. Bargain chip time.

    Speech making? Poor scripting. Nanny-stating!!

    Clever Doctor plants everything backs. Ryan’s nan Grace

    dies killing a weaponized creatures.

    Ryan back on the bike.

    Ryan’s dad not reliable. Fear Her comes to mind.

    Graham 3 years with Grace and he looks weak!

    Doctor lost his family a long time ago.

    Chibnall you really have no vision for anything!

    Women’s clothe line and costume no!! Earrings TARDIS MIA …

    And 4 of them at the end are beamed into outer space missing the TARDIS

    target. The TARDIS does not want a faux Doctor.

    Chibnall fail!

    Pathetic!! Chibnall must move on! Lousy everything, plot, premise, ideas …

    Whittaker looks like a bumbling fool.

    Bradley Walsh as Graham , no spine! It is time to clean house!

    Just glimpses of upcoming stars. Chibnall and Whittaker out now!

    You do not deserve to be renewed in 2019!

    Go back to the regeneration scene

    and correct the error from Twice Upon A time. 1/10

  • CLAYTON REED

    No spoilers here – Characters and the plot are not mentioned… Well, the first episode is out of a new science fiction show on the BBC. I watched it really hoping it would be a good program. I went over every detail of this 1 hour and 1-minute show. After reviewing the entire episode and trying to be as objective as possible I found the story was weak and the actual script was unbelievable and poorly written. To make matters worse, the lead female character has a terrible Yorkshire accent that made many words indecipherable or it was necessary to pause the program to try to figure out what was being said. (to be clear, I have understood Ozzy Osborne’s Brummie at times better than this person). If she needs an accent, she should learn to enunciate! The acting on the part of the lead female was not believable at all and seemed overacted at times. This is really consistent with her other work in Broadchurch, Venus or Trust Me so not entirely unexpected. The poor script probably did not help either. The opening was slow but the pace picked up after about 41 minutes. The episode also required a lot of exposition but that was also expected. The violence was also on the higher end and would probably not be good for a younger viewer. The ending scene was not just unbelievable but plain silly. The production and writing crew are completely new and comprised of a majority of females. Now, this really should not matter in any other circumstance. But the obvious feminist overtones are clear and really are distracting from creating a quality science fiction program. Overall this episode was a big disappointment. Hopefully, one day the BBC will see they need to bring back Doctor Who and not this experiment in poor science fiction.

  • Paul Wood

    Totally agree with Clayton, no plot, it was like a cheap kids tea time sci fi show, oh Bradley – quick, escape while you still can

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