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the woman who fell to earth reviews

The Gallifrey Times team reviews The Woman Who Fell To Earth

After months of waiting, the Thirteenth Doctor finally crashed onto our screens this week in The Woman Who Fell To Earth. In an episode packed with scares, heartbreak and a monster in need of serious dental work, there was lots to enjoy. But what did our team make of it? Let’s find out…

Spoiler Warning

Ben (Editor)

It’s always exciting when there’s a new Doctor, especially if there’s a new showrunner too. This series, everything is new and that really shows in this first episode. Right from the start, the YouTuber intro and beautiful sweeping shots of Sheffield set the tone. Everything is much bigger in scale and the drama is turned up a notch. It feels very different to what’s come before (as Moffat’s era did after RTD’s era) but still has the essence of Who.

As someone who was doubtful (to put it mildly) when Jodie Whittaker was announced, I was looking forward to seeing the Doctor and boy what a Doctor she is. From the minute she arrives, she owns every scene and gives an electric performance. Her mannerisms and excitability offer echoes of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, but Whittaker also brings her own unique energy to the role. And I’m happy to admit that I was wrong and she is great. There’s still a little part of me that finds it hard to accept she’s the same character, but I’m sure that will settle after a few episodes, as it does with any new Doctor.

Of the new companions, Graham is undoubtedly my favourite. I’m a fan of Bradley Walsh anyway, but his character is instantly likeable, with his friendly nature and humour – not too dissimilar to Wilf. His relationship with Grace is lovely to watch, making it heartbreaking when we lose Grace, even though we’ve known her for less than an hour. Because I’d already seen the episode, I felt so bad when my mother announced halfway through the episode “I really like Grace, she’s my favourite character.”

Ryan’s story is also a great addition to the episode. I really liked the contrast between the everyday struggle of someone learning to ride a bike with the struggle of saving the world. It’s a nice message to send to people with disabilities and adds an extra layer to Ryan’s character that is handled really well. Overall, I think this new TARDIS team will be interesting to watch.

In any ‘new Doctor’ story, the plot and villain aren’t really the main focus, but the gruesome Tim Shaw and his mission was great fun and makes me excited for what other new aliens are to come in the series.

The music is again more cinematic, less noticeable but definitely adding to the tension and action when appropriate. Whilst I love that the new theme harks very much back to the original, the music in general has lost a little of Murray Gold’s ‘epic adventure’ feel. Did the Doctor have her own theme? I’m not sure. If she did, I didn’t spot it.

I did have a few quibbles with the episode though. The resolution to the Doctor’s fall from space was very underwhelming, as I’d expected some clever way of her surviving the fall. Whilst I understand the reason behind not seeing the TARDIS in this episode, I did feel like it would’ve helped keep some consistency for existing fans by showing the familiar blue box, even if we didn’t see the inside. Similarly, the title sequence could have easily been added in after Ryan calls the police. It feels like Chibnall is trying to hold back some of the reveals to keep people watching, but for me it only makes the episode feel less like Doctor Who.

Overall, The Woman Who Fell To Earth was a perfect introduction for Whittaker’s Doctor. I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I thought I would. I’d give it an 8 out of 10, and I can’t wait for the rest of Series 11.

Ifan (Instagram)

I really enjoyed The Woman Who Fell To Earth. It was very different which made it nice and refreshing. I enjoyed the characters, specifically Yaz and Grace as they had interesting personalities. I also liked the fact that every character was different, especially at the end. (I speculate that they’ll all have a different reason to join the Doctor on her adventures.)

The first episode of any Doctor can be a bit wobbly – but by the end of the episode it really felt that Jodie was the Doctor. My favourite moment was when the Doctor, Ryan and Yaz were climbing up the crane. The music was great at creating tension, and the situation with the crane itself posed an interesting crisis. The ending came certainly as a shock, I really liked Grace and thought she’d make a great companion. The humour was good, primarily with the Doctor – but I hope we’ll get some better examples in the future. Also I felt like the title sequence could be easily added in such as when the blue transport pod (onion) appeared.

Overall it was a really enjoyable first episode that makes me really excited for the rest of the series. Onwards!

Nadja (News)

The Series 11 opener felt like a new start. Obviously that was expected to happen, with new lead actors, show runner, music and production team, but it did really feel a bit different from any previous Doctor Who episode. I have even heard the term New New Who applied exactly to this new feeling. It seems like a completely new era has started this year.

Let‘s start with probably the most anticipated bit of the episode – the new Doctor herself. While the freshly regenerated Time Lord is still trying to find herself, coordinate her new body, personality and memories she already gives off a very energetic and very alien vibe – reminding me of Tom Baker. In my opinion Jodie Whittaker owns the role as soon as she crashes through that train ceiling and holds back the ‘tentacly thing’, while the Doctor Who theme plays in the background. I like how she‘s new but still everything the Doctor is – a quick thinker, sarcastic, brave and kind.

Maybe it could have been executed better, but I still love the idea of this episode – the Doctor risks her life for “just“ one human (that crane jump – wow), there actually isn‘t any giant threat, any invasion of the whole planet. I especially liked the iconic scene where she finally proclaims “I’m the Doctor“ and kindly offers the creature to go home in peace.

Now, for the other characters: I feel like the different episodes will each have a focus one of the companions, and this one was definitely Ryan‘s. I really like the idea of him having dyspraxia, as it is actually a disorder many have not heard about before (including me – oh dear) and I imagine for people who struggle with it, this was a great representation and example. What I also find well done is the fact that it isn‘t Ryan‘s only or main character trait, it is present, but it isn‘t made into a big deal.

Yasmin and Graham were alright, my guess is they just haven‘t had their moments to shine yet. Grace was actually one of my favourites from this episode, she was absolutely up to any adventure, right on from the beginning. That is also why I guessed fairly quickly that she was going to die (which was a sad scene), as she would have wanted to come with the Doctor otherwise.

The villain of the story felt quite eerie at first, but when he revealed his face it was somewhat disgusting. He didn‘t really feel like a big threat, but then again, this wasn‘t about saving the world, it was about the new Doctor, her friends and that saving one person is actually important.

There’s one question I still have though: why did they gloss over the cliffhanger from the last Christmas special, her big fall? She just came in crashing through the roof and was completely fine immediately, shouldn‘t she have obtained some injuries from falling from such a height? The ongoing regeneration process would have cured it anyway.

Summing up, I would give the series opener a 7.5 out of 10. It had potential, screwed up some parts, while others (especially the Doctor) were brilliant.

Kitty (News)

The Woman Who Fell to Earth was a great start to the new series. It brilliantly introduced the thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. I have heard many concerns over the last few months from people worrying about how a female Doctor will change the feel of the show. I have to say that I hope these people watched that episode because it didn’t feel at all like a female Doctor… It just felt like Doctor Who. Whittaker’s Doctor though original and unique also felt to me like a mix of Tennant’s Doctor, with the way she performed many of the lines, and Capaldi’s Doctor as well. Which is perfect since she had only just regenerated. I look forward to watching her Doctor develop over Series 11. I already love the line about hating empty pockets and can see myself using it.

The companions were great but I feel like we still have a lot to learn about Yaz and Graham’s characters. Ryan’s introduction felt more thorough so far and I really like how real his struggles felt. As someone with a disability, I can relate to the level of frustration some simple tasks can create.

There were a lot of interesting characters sprinkled through out this episode. Salad man seemed to be pretty popular and I did like the confidence issues of Carl. My favourite character was Grace, and I was really sad to see her go, but I know it was important to the plot.

I thought the villain in this episode was interesting. He certainly won’t be on the top of my villain list but I didn’t mind him either. I do still find it odd that he transferred physical and digital data, yet the only physical things he transferred were the bombs? And the exact number of bombs used? But it wouldn’t be Doctor Who without a few weird plot holes, I suppose.

I really enjoyed this episode. I’ve already watched it three times, and I can see myself watching it plenty more.

Patrick (News)

My biggest concern coming into The Woman Who Fell To Earth was not one central element of this new era under Chris Chibnall. Trailers and marketing so far have felt lacking in establishing a new identity for Doctor Who; not to say they were bad, simply that no markers were standing out to say ‘this is the next era of Doctor Who’ beyond Jodie herself. Thank Rassilon then that Series 11’s opener nails every possible tick as the curtain raiser, whilst providing the most distinct proof of series evolution since The Eleventh Hour.

Much of TWWFTE’s success of course stems from Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor in the show’s 55 year history. It speaks to her natural charisma and brilliance in the role that, for much of the episode, I forgot we were even seeing our first female Doctor; I was simply observing a phenomenal actor playing an iconic role. Right off the bat Jodie establishes her Doctor as one of manic energy and love for humanity (sound familiar?), yet demonstrates a resourcefulness never seen in previous Doctors, as seen during the sonic construction sequence. This carries through right to the end with the stopping of Tim Shaw the pseudo-Predator, the first of many new villains to Doctor Who this series.

Tim Shaw really feels like the symbol of what makes TWWFTE a stunning debut for both Series 11 and Jodie; if the outstanding new cast, more grounded tone and pacing can be maintained, TWWFTE will be vindicated in it’s drive to cement this new era. If we never see Tim Shaw again, it could be hard to argue that some Moffat-era flimsiness hasn’t been eradicated. Time will tell. 9/10