Ten Thoughts About Tonight’s Doctor Who: The Pilot – Or Should It Have Been Dirk Gently?

Doctor Who returned tonight. On BBC 1 earlier, on BBC America very soon. So here… after popular demand (honest) … are this week’s Ten Thoughts.

1. The Doctor’s Holistic Detective Agency

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Douglas Adams wrote a Doctor Who story called Shada, for Tom Baker‘s Doctor and Lalla Ward’s Romana. A technician’s strike meant the show was only partially filmed, then abandoned. But Adams used several elements of it in his novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, elements that neither TV series chose to copy. So, it seems Doctor Who has taken them back. The first was Time Lord Professor Chronotis, a Cambridge professor of time whose university quarters were his TARDIS, embedded in the halls, who had been there for centuries. The only difference here is that the Doctor plays that role. And it’s Bristol not Cambridge. And the possession and attempting influence of others to do the will of the dead was very much like The Ghost, trying to find someone with similar needs and desires thematically compatible with what it wants as well.

Oh, and for Hitch Hikers, we got the Total Perspective Vortex.

2. Do You Want Chips With That?

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Rose loved chips. Bill served chips. Is there any possibility that, at one point, Bill served Rose? But this is very much an Educating Rita, a Pygmalion for the educationally deprived and a chance for Bill to rise above her chip-delivering status. Both with lectures and in time and space. And she even has the nous to unwittingly pull on whatever lingering negative memory gaps The Doctor has about Clara. But even so, never less than a first? That’s a bit much to expect from someone who smiles when she should frown… but she asks the smart questions. How do you get a TARDIS inside? Isn’t it more likely to be a knock through? Could she have been a manufactured companion, as was once planned for Rose? As kinda happened with Amy Pond? With the Doctor affecting her past and forming her into the companion he would need. Red bicycle when she was twelve?

3. A Companion Is For Life Not Just For Christmas Specials

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As we gain a companion, we revisit all the others, from Susan Foreman to River Song on his desk. And he has them all in his head, the peanut gallery he takes with him. Aside from Clara. And that’s why Pearl escapes with her memory intact.

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Also, she did buy him a rug.

4. There’s Something About Gingers.

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The sexuality of Bill Potts isn’t an issue – but it does make for plot use, her attraction to another student Heather – and also her kindness towards her – gets Bill involved in the whole alien plotline. But in a show which is often criticised for its Power Of Love endings, this episode was the opposite – how love causes us to get entangled in all sorts of nonsense. Not so much The Power Of Love, but The Danger Of It. Also, Amy Pond, Heather, Kris Marshall… I just hope you don’t have any prejudice.

5. Squeak

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The third robot to join the Doctor as a companion. Nardole follows K9 and Kamelion. Or he’s semi-robot. And looks like he’ll be playing the clumsy fellow who knows a lot but has a mouth that doesn’t know when to stop. Somewhere between The Doctor and Bill. Andwith all that’s going on, finally a TARDIS crew not wanting to jump each others’ bones.

6. Exiled On Earth?

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This Doctor Who has been a professor at the university of St Luke’s for fifty years without ageing… a Nardole worried that the Doctor is leaving Earth – and the Doctor saying he’s not one for travelling. And all down to that mysterious vault beneath the university premises. While the Third Doctor was exiled by the Time Lords to remain on Earth, this Doctor appears to be doing it to himself. With notable and tiny exceptions. And he has a good line in speeches, turning the TARDIS familiar into something new.

7. Water Water Everywhere.

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Talking of which, the familiar into something new. A puddle, the threat caused by just a little puddle and will follow them to the end of time with a banshee screech. Will you be able to pass a puddle by tomorrow in exactly the same way. We’re due rain tonight….

8. Movellan Any Mountain

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Apologies for the livebloggers, I thought these were an update of The Thals – no, they’re the Movellans from Destiny Of The Daleks. And we are back in the Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords with every race picking a side. Sorry Movellans, time for you to be exterminated. And the Doctor unable to do anything with such a fixed point in time…

Oh and also, the Doctor is still Beethoven.

9. A Little Moral Relativism With Your Breakfast?

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The question is asked – is the puddle actually dangerous, dismissed by the Doctor. May be it shouldn’t have been. “Hardly anything’s evil. Most things are hungry. Hungry can look a lot like evil from the wrong end of the cutlery. Do you think your bacon sandwich loves you back?” The argument for a vegan Doctor continues, especially one that, as we learned from Girl In The Fireplace, can speak horse.

But either way, a good looking episode, lots of fun and frights and silliness and stuff to chew on – and the kids love it. Mine and nephews –  this was a big family night for watching Doctor Who.

10. The Regeneration Game

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Ah, teasers, teasers, teasers. We have the original Cybermen returning from Mondas, whose first appearance coincided with the very first regeneration of The Doctor.  And we have a regeneration teased during this series. The two do seem to be a little entwined.

And Kris Marshall round the corner…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.