Doctor Who: The Pilot by Steven Moffat (an analysis)

April 15, 2017 | By | Reply More

A new Easter. A new ‘Doctor Who’. The series not the Time Lord. That doesn’t happen until Yuletide.


This story, ‘The Pilot’, is very low key. With photo references to River Song and his grand-daughter, Susan, one would hope they are portents for things to come. I mean, wouldn’t we like to see Susan and her finally doing a regeneration so she can come back into the fold after so many years hidden in an alternative Earth? After all, the Doctor has been near that era. 2164, many times now and nary a sign that the Daleks are going to invade Earth.

Instead, the Doctor (actor Peter Capaldi) has been at an English university for the past 50 years and then takes an interest in Bill Potts (actress Pearl Mackie) who despite working in the kitchens has been attending his lectures. He offers personal tuition just because she smiles at the wrong places.

Meanwhile, Bill tries to make friends with Heather (actress Stephanie Hyam) who has what appears to be a star in one of her eyes. With the investigation of a strange puddle on the ground, despite the fact that it hasn’t rained in weeks, Heather vanishes. The Doctor investigates and realises why Bill and himself aren’t captured and realises it’s all to do with symmetry.

Then Heather returns from the puddle but made of water and the Doctor and Nardole (actor Matt Lucas) find they have an extra passenger as the Time Lord tries to find the limits of pursuit, going as far as a Dalek battle with the Movellans, before figuring out the solution.

For a reintroduction to ‘Doctor Who’, this story is slow and laid back. I know I’ve criticised episodes for going at too fast a speed but going at a snail’s pace but this being typical Moffat with no identifiable alien species and no one knowing what is going on just means no real change other than pace.

That doesn’t mean clues for future episodes aren’t laid down. The Doctor has been taking a time-out looking after the contents of a mysterious vault, although why on Earth and not some more exotic hidden place remains to be seen. You would think he would choose some planet that hadn’t had its fair share of alien invasions, wouldn’t you? As a Time Lord, he could also choose some quite era as well. Without more information it’s hard to connect all the dots so far.

The acting is fine. Newcomer Pearl Mackie looks like she’s been waiting for this role all her life, although I’m at a loss as to the fuss that she’s playing a lesbian companion because it is nothing obvious from this story. She does turn out to know a little about Science Fiction yet is a little slow on the uptake as to what is going on. Capalidi’s Doctor has a softer edge this time. I’m still puzzling over Nardole being around 50 odd years and yet not learning anything about the Doctor in all that time.

My verdict is still out as to what is going on. Moffat has laid down some story threads but none of them are strong enough to make sense of where they are going. That might work in fantasy but less so in Science Fiction. It does look like he’s playing up the dramatics to give Capaldi something to work with. Just a shame he hasn’t gone beyond his own limitations.

(c) GF Willmetts 2017

Category: Doctor Who, TV

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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