So we have now seen week 2 of Jodie Whittaker’s Dr Who. There is a sense in which week 2 is even more important than week 1. We expect week 1 to be great, but week 2 tells you a lot about how the series might feel going forward, and whether it will sustain.
My only qualification as a Dr Who critic is that I am a life-long fan. I watched episode one when it aired, as a kid. IMHO the new Doctor is excellent. Her performance in episode 2 was great. It is noticeable that she has excellent support from Bradley Walsh. Would it work quite as well without him? – hmm, honestly maybe not quite. This production feels just a bit more of a team effort. There’s not quite such a focus on the Doctor’s performance alone. Is that the beeb playing it safe? Is it the new writing? Whatever, it’s just fine. Having strong characters around the Doctor is welcome and it works well.
Next week we have Rosa Parks. This, you could be forgiven for thinking is a PC motivated inclusion, but perhaps surprisingly, I would disagree with you if you thought that. Remember Rosa figured in American history and the BBC needs to sell this series in the American market. Rosa Parks is an icon to many who do know her story, and this is an interesting part of history, worth telling and not very well-known to a large part of the British audience. The show is avoiding the same-old same-old routine cameo historical figures and going with something a bit different, interesting, powerful, true, and for many new.
So what about the actual political correctness. There is absolutely no doubt that for whatever reason, the BBC occasionally test us up to the overdose limit. I don’t mean the actors or the subjects or the plots – the whole balance in Dr Who now seems quite good, although I don’t see many disabled people. It’s the obvious almost non sequiteur injection into the dialogue. One “throwaway” line felt so shoe-horned in. A clunky, clumsy, motivated line. Purhleease! Talking about disability – did I see a hidden hearing aid in the Doctor’s ear or is that one of those things they wear to get directions when acting?
As to the second show itself – there were several moments that felt absolutely classic Who. Bradley Walsh is giving brilliant performances that really gel together the rest of the cast. The EMP blast was an FX whammy – lovely. The scene of the Doctor walking across the hill toward her TARDIS felt very classic. The kind of moments you watch Who for. Niggles about clunky shoe-horning aside, the show so far is proper Who and very good to watch.
So let’s run that again..
“The scene of the Doctor walking across the hill toward her TARDIS…”
Do you know how natural writing “her” that felt? It didn’t feel even a tiny bit weird. Saying “her” for Dr Who feels normal, for a nearly 60 year-old guy that only ever saw male Who’s after just two episodes. Talk about nailed it! Jodie Whittaker is well on the way to being not just a Dr Who (as we know there were several that were awful, and thankfully barely memorable) but to being a CLASSIC Dr Who, up there with Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker (Tom), and Tennant.