Doctor Who Review: “The Pilot”

I ought to start this post by admitting I am not the biggest Moffat lover in the fandom. I’m not the biggest Moffat hater, either. I actually really liked series 5, thought series 6 was okay, and didn’t hate the first part of series 7. But since then, I’ve mainly been watching the show out of loyalty. I haven’t liked the past couple of seasons, which is a shame because I really want to like Capaldi’s doctor, and feel like I would if the writing was better.

Season 9 saw me almost ready to ditch all hope and stop watching the show. I know, I can’t believe I’m saying those words either. But after watching last year’s Christmas special, and the trailer for season 10, I found myself thinking the same thing I always think; “Oh come on, just give it a go. It could end up being good this time.”

For the first time in three years, I think I’m finally right.

***Spoilers ahead, Sweetie***

Let’s Start With Bill

When Bill was first shown to us a while back, I was skeptical. The clip we were given made it look like Moffat was trying to create his own rip off version of Donna, and I wasn’t too keen. But then “The Pilot” aired and I may have had to eat my own words, because I actually have taken a shine to her.

A lot of people were happy with Perl Mackie being cast as the character as it’s the first POC companion since Martha Jones (which, fyi, was 10 years ago. It’s been a long time coming). Even more people jumped for joy when it was revealed that Bill would be our first, openly gay, full-time companion. I was happy too. I’m not going to commend Moffat for writing it, though. Because like I said, it’s been 10 years since we had a POC companion, 7 years of which he was show runner. It’s 2017, it shouldn’t be hard for us to have a gay or POC companion, or both in this case. And he fully admits that.

What I love about Bill is that Moffat has appeared to have gone against what he usually does when writing companions, and taken a leaf out of Russel T Davis’ book instead. Back with Amy and Clara they had these mysteries around them that caused the Doctor to take them into the TARDIS with him so he could try and solve it. Amy had the crack in her wall, Clara was just appearing everywhere in the Doctor’s life. And he admitted these were the reasons that he took them along with him, because they were mysteries worth solving. What happened to taking people along with him because he likes seeing the wonders of the universe with someone?

So far Bill isn’t like that, she’s just a normal girl who works at a university that seems to want to better her knowledge, and the Doctor primarily took interest in her because of that. Just like he did with Rose as a shop assistant, Martha as a trainee doctor, and Donna as a temp. Just like them, Bill isn’t special from the offset. But in true Doctor Who style, she’ll no doubt go on to do great things throughout the season. And her TARDIS moment? “Can I use your toilet?” Brilliant!

And The Episode Itself?

For the first time in a long time, I fully enjoyed this episode. Steven Moffat has said he wanted this episode to be a place that fans could start off with in regards to watching the show, bringing a double meaning to the title “The Pilot”. And I have to say he did it quite well. While there were nods to previous seasons, with the photos of Susan, River, and of course we had Nardole potting about (who gave some awkward but slightly funny commentary in the episode), and not to mention the whole memory wipe situation which gives its nod to the previous season, you didn’t actually need any knowledge of this to enjoy the episode. It was like we were being introduced to the show all over again like we were when “Rose” fist hit our screens 12 years ago.

The whole plot surrounding the puddle was great too. It was new, compelling, and a little bit sad, but wasn’t too over-complicated. I’ve found with a lot of episodes Moffat’s written in the past, is they’ve become too complicated, sometimes meaning there are plot holes, and I end up wanting to take a nap because I can’t get my head around it. This episode kept my eyes glued to the TV for the full length of the episode. I was confused by it at first, but when things were explained I found them easy to understand and didn’t find myself questioning the logic too much. Equally, it didn’t take away too much from the whole point of the episode, which was meeting and getting to know Bill and seeing her develop chemistry with the Doctor.

I didn’t care too much for the Daleks, though. And feel like they were just thrown in a bit randomly. I feel like they’ve been used to so much in the past 12 years that I find myself rolling my eyes whenever they appear. Same goes for the Cybermen really. That alien/enemy we also have to look forward to in upcoming episodes, too.

But it’s still left me with some burning questions. Though they are ones I’m sure Moffat wants us asking, and will answer them eventually. Why is the Doctor working at a University? What was this ‘promise’ he made? I need these answers!

Looking Forward To The Season

All in all, I’m very keen to see what the rest of season 10 holds. If this episode is anything to go by, it could be one of the best Moffat has done, and will hopefully bring some more viewers back before both he and Capaldi make their departures. Fingers crossed he is pulling out the stops to make his last season an unforgettable one!


Johanna an avid writer and lifelong Doctor Who fan living in the UK. By day she is a student, studying Media and Film Production, and by night she fangirls about all things TV/Film related on Twitter and writes posts for a variety of blogs as well as her own lifestyle blog.

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One thought

  1. I was about to jump ship, too, but “The Pilot” has reeled me back in. I already like Bill and I’m actually looking forward to seeing what happens next (which hasn’t been the case for the past couple seasons).

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