Going into Series 10 was always going to be a bittersweet situation; there's the excitement of a brand new series, after what feels like an age away from our screens, coupled with the sadness - and reality - that Peter Capaldi will be leaving the show this year. Perhaps, what has made this a particularly bitter pill to swallow, is just how good Capaldi is in this opening episode. He is fully into his groove as The Doctor, and embodies the role with gusto, and you can't help reminding yourself after every little Doctor-y moment, that his days are numbered. Thankfully, we have new companion, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), to help distract us from the harsh reality of Capaldi's departure.
'The Pilot' takes Doctor Who back to its basics, and, much like 2005's 'Rose' was a companion-centric episode, Bill has a real chance to shine as she takes up the majority of the screen time in the episode. And just how good is Pearl Mackie as Bill?! She positively shines with energy, attitude, intelligence and...yes...that AMAZING hair! The lump in our throats from Clara's departure is very much still there, but hands-down, Bill Potts will win you over before the end titles roll. There's a heart-breaking scene set at Christmas that is played down wonderfully, allowing you to connect your own dots, but it really gets you in the feels, and Pearl plays it so, so well.
Matt Lucas' Nardole is definitely warming to us and he is fast becoming a character that you're glad to have in moments when The Doctor seems a little too 'alien' to Bill's emotions. There's a rather lovely little scene towards the end of the episode that stands out in particular.
The episode itself delivers in so many ways, and whilst it may not quite live up to the Series 10 opener, it sets up a new direction, a new companion and a new threat, fantastically. A typical device used by Steven Moffat is to take an everyday object and turn it into something sinister, and The Pilot is no exception. Without wanting to give too much away, there's a puddle that's...well....not *quite* a puddle, leading to some moments within the episode that will genuinely make you jump out of your seat. Oh...and taking a shower will never seem quite so appealing anymore. There's a neat little scene that almost mirror's Rose's descent into the basement in 'Rose', and whilst Bill is very different to Rose, you can't help feeling the connection here. Expect a very different reaction from Bill when she sees the interior of the TARDIS for the first time (rather frustratingly for The Doctor), but it's played out very well indeed, to comic effect.
Those of you expecting an all-out Dalek-filled romp will be disappointed as their appearance is fleeting, but you do get a rather nice cameo from some Classic Series characters who have a certain association with them. The scene that featured in the BBC One companion reveal of 'Pearl Mackie as Bill' does indeed find its way into the episode, albeit an edited version to suit the pacing.
What we are missing most from the episode is Murray Gold's amazing scores. Don't get us wrong, there is some new material here from Gold, mostly connected to Bill Potts, but the music isn't as anthemic as it used to be. For the record we absolutely adore Murray Gold's music for Doctor Who, and there's no denying we've been a little spoiled over the years with so many audible treasures, but the days when 'All The Strange, Strange Creatures' or 'I Am The Doctor' became set pieces that followed through the season, seem to be fading. There is a rousing snippet of the 12th Doctor's 'A Good Man?' theme, but it feels a little shoe-horned in, and what this episode is crying out for is something new and bold to push it above and beyond.
Overall we loved the episode and you definitely feel like you've been on an adventure by the end of it. Things feel renewed and refreshed, which goes hand-in-hand with this show and The Pilot wonderfully, and rather aptly creates a new stepping-on point for anyone wanting to start their own journey into the Doctor Who series.
5 Things To Look Out For:
1) A TARDIS trip to Australia!
2) A jar of Sonic Screwdrivers!
3) A present in the wardrobe.
4) What is The Doctor guarding?
5) "I fatted her!"
+. 10.1: The Pilot airs This Saturday at 7:20pm on BBC One.