The Pilot is the first new episode of the tenth ‘new Who’ series, and we already know that not only is this Peter Capaldi‘s final one, but also that the new assistant, Bill (Pearl Mackie), will only be in the Tardis for one series, so while I find her massively annoying from the trailers and clips so far, at least we won’t have to put up with her for long. Or maybe she’ll grow on me and I’ll mourn her loss. Hmm…
We’re told she’s The Doctor’s first gay companion. Really?? In the Russell T Davies era, EVERYONE was gay, from Captain Jack, to the Doctor, when David Tennant wanted to kiss Frank the pig in Daleks In Manhattan, played by Andrew Garfield who was a far better Spider-Man than Tom Holland.
Anyway, what’s also annoying is that there are no preview for ANY episode in this series. That never bodes well. We had a preview for 2015’s Christms episode, The Husbands of River Song, which was pretty decent, but there was none for last year’s, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, which stank more than a back-fired enema.
Then again, precious little of this Doc’s storyline has been worth watching. That said, I’ll still review each episode, but previewing means I can get my review ready in advance and can go live from the appropriate time, which for BBC shows is usually once an episode has completed is broadcast – this is fine, but having to write it AFTER the show has finished just delays me getting it online.
What I also didn’t care for was Matt Lucas‘ character, Nardole. I could stomach him for one Christmas Special, but then he’s returned as a regular character, pratting about like a bad extra from a Carry On movie.
So, onto ‘Series 10’, and Capaldi’s Doctor has been a lecturer at a University for the past 70 years, yet no-one understands how he never ages, and it’s still set in the present day, and… why am I even bothering to apply logic to this.
He’s also still mourning those who have gone (but only from his immediate past), hence the photos of Clara and River Song on his desk.
Bill stumbled across his basement-cum-secret lab, there’s a mysterious girl called Heather (Stephanie Hyam) – with a star in her eye, who seemed to be trying to control Bill near a pond, but then ended up getting trapped in it like Shirley Henderson in the paving slab situation in the godawful Love and Monsters, in 2006. So, clearly she was controlled by whatever’s down there.
Over the course of 50 minutes, there’s the usual case of ‘things that go bump in the daytime’, or in this case, draw a bath. Naturally, the biggest threat is that whatever’s in there could kill Bill… but we know it won’t because she’s around for the full twelve episodes.
They also travel 23 million years into the future, so there is still life after Donald Trump, Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-un have blown us all into smithereens next month.
We see that the course of true love never runs smoothly, but why couldn’t we have had Heather for the new companion? She was well fit! However, the old trusted enemy-on-wheels was brought back yet again, albeit briefly. However, when the Daleks shout “Exterminate!” before they shoot, how come they’ve never evolved to understand that they’d get a much better chance to kill you if they actually DIDN’T shout at you first!
One major problem with this first episode is that since they had to introduce a new companion and set-up for the Doctor, the plot for The Pilot was left wanting. A shame, as what happened to Heather beyond the pond had potential. It should really have been allowed two episodes to tell the story AND introduce everything new, but ‘new Who’ is all about ‘monster of the week’.
Other than that, this first episode was watchable but instantly forgettable. Capaldi was the same-old same-old, while Pearl Mackie wasn’t terrible, but I’m going to warm to her as much as I will with the pillock who keeps blocking my driveway.
Next week: Robots that speak emoji in Smile. Check out the trailer below.
The Pilot is available on the BBC iPlayer until one week after the series ends. You can also pre-order Series 10 Part 1 on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its release on May 29th. Both versions contain the first six episodes, plus six exclusive Series 10 art-cards.
Individual episodes can be bought in HD and SD here.
Director: Lawrence Gough
Producer: Peter Bennett
Writer: Steven Moffat
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Bill: Pearl Mackie
Nardole: Matt Lucas
Heather: Stephanie Hyam
Edwardian Working Class: David Olawale Ayinde
Moira: Jennifer Hennessy
Voice of the Daleks: Nicholas Briggs
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.