Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE! FINALLY! We have watched a new episode of Doctor Who! Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we talk about Bill, the Doctor, (possibly) dead lesbians, fat jokes, re-treaded ground, callbacks, and lots more.

Are you as excited to have Who back on the airwaves/internets as we are? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

  • Erika discovers the @dailycapaldi Twitter account!
  • Lynne enjoys David Tennant’s birthday via the @David_Tennant Twitter account!
  • Tansy watches all of series 8 with her family to prepare for series 10!
  • Deb appreciates fandom standing up to stupid gatekeeping directed at Pearl Mackie!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:07:34) 

Comments on: "Episode 133 – A Well-Bill(t) Pilot" (29)

  1. Oh my science I agree with everything you all said this episode. Let Bill be a woman, with no mystery attached, who will eventually leave the Doctor of her own volition for he own reasons. And I do hope that Heather returns somehow, too.

  2. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Curator, Editor, Geek and commented:


  3. Dave in Chicago said:

    My only unanswered question: what made Bill decide to give her tutor a massive rug for Christmas? What was she thinking? Get to it, fanfic writers.

    • My guess is the rug’s purpose was exactly as shown: it’s big enough that he’d have to move the TARDIS to put it down, and then she’d be able to grill him about how he did it!

  4. they did relegate the daleks to cameo status in series 6. the only box/vault thing we’ve had was the pandorica back in series 5, which was quite awhile ago at this point. suggesting that amy & clara (& ashildr) are just girls and bill will be different as a woman is exactly what the show is telling you not to do. amy is a girl because she is introduced as a child, which was quite a unique & fresh thing, but the whole point of her arc is growing up and building a family and learning to balance fairytales & real life. clara is referred to as the woman twice dead as well as the impossible girl (but like one is less wieldy than the other) and the whole point of her initial arc is that she is ordinary & not very extraordinary. she also starts out as far more mature than amy did & spends her whole time aboard the tardis as a fully fledged adult. i don’t think ashildr is ever in universe referred to as the girl who died and indeed her next ep is actually called the woman who lived: this was just a reflection of the clever pairing titles thing they were trying in series 9. and indeed her whole arc was about her extraordinary longlivedness and how she adapted to it: by the end she was more longlived & mature in a way than the doctor. dismissing all of them as girls is something the show never does, only fandom sometimes and it’s a glib criticism. also river is always a mature woman and mentioning the number of times female companions might be referred to as girls without the context of how often the male companions and the doctor (especially in moffat who) are referred to as boys is very cherrypicking. anyway i really liked the pilot and generally enjoy the podcast but i expect a better standard of criticism from it.

  5. Squibby said:

    Loved the episode, even with the strong references to “Educating Rita”.
    Very different meeting with a companion, which I liked. It seemed slower yet full of story.

    New Who without the sugar-high-flappy-hands, too-fast-speaking and slightly ludicrious running around.

    Its seems that New Who has finally matured to meet the quality of the cast.

    I especially liked that this story emphasised for fans that the Doctor encompasses parts of all the Doctors and we csn see the character and story links to Dr 1 in a junkyard. Even saw aspects of Peter Cushing’s Doctor. And so much Saint Jon of Pertwee.

  6. Great though The Pilot was as a companion introduction, speaking as someone who has found the Capaldi/Moffat episodes from the last two series to be probably my favourite ever Doctor Who, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed that one of their last collaborations should be for such a familiar and slight story. I have a feeling that Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s second episode might, like his last effort, be great visually but not so great storywise. Then we will have reached the third episode still waiting for a decent adventure.

    It was noticeable that they didn’t show Bill thanking the Doctor for the photographs. I predict that the pay-off at the end of the series will be her returning the favour. I haven’t read any synopses but the ‘Who’s clues’ picture in the RadioTimes shows Bill with Northanger Abbey. I think that the 12th Doctor will have a photo of Clara (with Ashildr and Jane Austen) on his desk by the end of his run courtesy of Bill and Nardole. Quote “If someone’s gone, the pictures really help”.

    • Neil A Ottenstein said:

      I was wondering about them not showing Bill thanking the Doctor. It really felt that it could have been a deleted scene since it looked like she was going directly to talk to him about the photos.

    • terminuspodcast said:

      I actually really loved that Bill didn’t say anything about the pictures to the Doctor. It shows that she holds some things back from him and I can really see why, as the other major adult in her life (her foster mother) seems like someone she wouldn’t be vulnerable with, so that’s become learned behavior for Bill (you notice, for example, her step mother seems to not know that Bill is gay, which is a pretty big part of who Bill is). Plus, she probably didn’t believe it was really him at that point because she didn’t know he could travel in time. I wouldn’t doubt if it bubbles out of her at some point later, though.

      What I did personally really love about the pictures was that THE DOCTOR didn’t say anything about it. He just did it quietly and that was it. I think that some other Doctors — especially, say, the Tenth Doctor — would have drawn attention to what he’d done and practically bragged about it, making a show of it. I love that Twelve didn’t do that. He’s not looking for reward and adulation, he was just doing a good dead.

  7. Loved the discussed and I’m definitely Team Everybody Else.

    Maybe I’ve being watching too much Edgar Wright but the dubiously executed chip story (although I appreciated showing them flirting later on so the intent was clearer) felt like a non-sequitur that foreshadows the story. It’s ultimately about getting the positive result you want but not in the way you expect which happens with Bill wanting the opportunity to learn ending up with a time travelling tutor and Heather wanting to leave becoming the pilot of the good ship Space Puddle.

  8. Welcome back Doctor Who! I loved it.

    DERIVATIVE?: I disagree strongly with most of Deb’s assertions about some of the failings in the story, but the thing that has me commenting here is (so far at the 48-minute mark in the podcast) no one has called out the connection to An Unearthly Child. The Pilot is sort of An Unearthly Child inside out. Also worthy of mention: Bill and Heather… Hartnell.

    BILL: Just awesome. I had the same approach to the fat joke as Tansy did, and as Erika said, it may have been the director who steered that joke back into open water. But Pearl Mackie is amazing.

    NARDOLE: I thought it was clear that this is Nardole after the events of The Husbands of River Song. His head is original, his body is mechanical, after his head was salvaged from King Hydroflax’s armor.

    DOCTOR: There is nothing in the script that suggests the Doctor is a professor here because he is moping. He is here for a reason—he has a mission—and that is why he is not looking for someone to be a new companion. Why would he take on a “companion” if he doesn’t plan on moving on anywhere?

    FAN WANK: Just the right amount for me! Can’t wait to see more of this season!

    Thanks as always, Verities!

  9. I can’t disagree with Deb’s criticisms, but I must be more prepared to roll with the same old tropes being wheeled out again. Like the other Verities, I found that there was enough that was fresh to keep the other stuff from bothering me.

    I suspect it’s not a case of Moffat running out of new ideas, I suspect he’d doing a ‘victory lap’. He’s being saying repeatedly in interviews that his leaving the show doesn’t matter and that he’s not going to treat it as anything special. What’s Rule 1? Moffat lies! He’s a huge fan so of course it’s a big deal to him and I suspect we’ll be seeing lots of little call-backs sprinkled throughout series 10. Maybe not so little…

    Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Moffat HAS run out of steam. If so, it’s just as well this is his final series. Maybe we’ll have to wait till series 11 before we get another truly fresh take on new Who?

    Anyway, I thought this was great fun and I look forward to seeing how things develop. I even like the vault. Series arcs have become a thing that I have learned to enjoy and for them to be arcs, they have to be seeded at the start of the season. As arcs go, this one got off to a gentle start, which I appreciate. I hope it stays in the background until later in the series, but it’s always fun to look for little clues and hints about what’s coming. 🙂

  10. By Sunday, BBCAmerica was showing the episode on their website with no sign in required. Normally you have to sign in with your comcast account.

  11. Michael said:

    Oh Crap, I really didn’t catch that the Doctor gave her the pictures as a present. I was already annoyed that we might get another mystery girl story arc but now that makes much more sense.
    As for the episode itself- I lost a bit of my passion for the series since series 8 (which was only marginally better than Tennant’s last in my book). And while series 9 was a big step up, I was a bit sceptical about The Pilot. Luckily, I was wrong and it was a good setup episode. I like the clear cut and character development of the Doctor. I was a bit put off about how the BBC dealt with announcing Bill’s homosexuality and was really glad the episode showed it in a much more lighter way without making a big fuss about it and working it into the plot. I liked her a lot, she seems to be more independent and open minded than Amy or Clara, but since we are just one episode in, it might be a bit early for me to see that holds up.

    There was a nice thought on Reddit, comparing Nardole to old-time fans and Bill to newcomers to the series. He is savvy about how the doctor acts and how others react to him while she meets him with wonder and excitement.

    And a last nitpick on the topic of none of the companions had a “full set of parents”: Amy’s parents did appear in the finale to series 5, didn’t they?

  12. terminuspodcast said:

    I’m surprised that I didn’t notice you guys mentioning that the actress that played Bill’s foster mother was previously in New Who as the wife of Brannigan the cat-guy in ‘Gridlock’. That was a cool surprise for me and I have to wonder if it was a sly nod to the 10 year anniversary of that story airing.

  13. Thank you so much for articulating many of my thoughts about this episode, especially those about the Doctor’s character development.

    I personally enjoy the mystery characters but felt that when they first introduced Clara, it was too much about the mystery and not enough about her as a person, leaving her feeling flat. Even if Bill ends up being a mystery character, I think they’ve done a good job establishing her character.

    I’m eager to see how the season unfolds and comes together.

  14. I loved The Pilot and this week’s podcast. I am definitely on team “everyone else” and thought that there were a lot of new (maybe subtle) elements to the episode that really highlighted the characters. I loved all the little references sprinkled in though. Nobody pointed out the reference to The Chase! There was a board or something in the basement near the vault that said “Mary Celeste” and they kept jumping place to place to escape Heather this time instead of the Daleks. Maybe the ineptly shooting Daleks are a stand in for Peter Purvis’s doofy tourist in NYC? (Shout out to Lazy Doctor Who for making it more fun to watch Hartnell-era episodes)

  15. I had a wonderful time watching this story and listening to your excellent discussion. I definitely enjoyed the freshness of the story.

    I think that the lecture was probably the peak for me – I would have dearly loved to be in that room! It got me thinking about how other Doctors would have delivered the lecture…

    Fourth Doctor: “I saw Albert just before he developed his theory, you know. ‘Albert, I said…'”

    Seventh Doctor: “Out there in the dark… the universe… waiting. With untold horrrors, crreatures of your worst nightmares. But also some excellent places for tea!”

    Tenth Doctor: “So, where was I? Oh yes, space! Now, space. It’s really. Really. Incredible. But at the same time, from a certain point of view, tiny? Confused yet? Good!”

    First Doctor. “Now pay attention, hmm? Who among you can tell me what Time and Relative Dimension in Space might mean? Put your hand down please, Susan.”

  16. Heidi said:

    I loved the introduction of Bill but the villain (if it was one) stayed as mysterious as those little cubes that appeared everywhere in Amy’s time. The Doctor never tested the sample tube of not-water. We never learned why the puddle wants to copy people. Or why it needs a pilot or passenger. Or who was that scary voice saying “pilot engaged.” And if the puddle can travel on its own, why were there scorch marks from a whole nother ship? I know none of this mattered in terms of introducing Bill, but it sure felt like a lot of loose ends.

    • Heidi said:

      Also, I’m still worrying about the fact that Bill never did get to use the toilet.

  17. Tamara said:

    When the Doctor touched the vault, the instrumental score changed to the song played at the Singing Towers, didn’t it? And in the Christmas special, River said the Doctor could do something to save her, because that’s what he always does. Considering Doctor Who’s reluctance to leave anyone “just dead”, I assume the vault has something to do with River. That’s my guess!

    I also think The Pilot refers to the Doctor being the “pilot” of the TARDIS 😀

    As always, thanks for the awesome podcast!

  18. Mattie said:

    Okay, on the subject of non-mystery companion, did no one else look at her Christmas presents and assume that was the mystery of her character? She gives the Doctor and her foster mum very expensive but odd presents and her reaction to the money she gets given seems very much a “I’ll take that, the money wasn’t really an issue.”

    Certainly, from a childhood watching Grange Hill and Biker Grove, I took those as typical clues that she’s going to be revealed as having a thieving problem – so not a major mystery, but certainly something that will be explored and exploited as a “dark” part of her character – her reaction to the Doctor’s ownership of the TARDIS in episode 2 seemed to confirm that.

    I may, of course be over-reading this….

  19. While I liked the episode, I agree with Deb that Moffat felt derivative here. The biggest example for me is the Moffat trope of technology working as designed, to a (fatal) fault. This shows up in stories he’s written like clockwork robots harvesting organs (Girl in the Fireplace, Deep Breath), space ambulance nanobots trying to restore patients to life (The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances), and sentient oil spill in The Pilot. It also shows up quite a bit in stories he’s produced, like the hologram in The Lodger, the nurse AI in The Curse of the Black Spot, the enforcement android in A Town Called Mercy, etc.

    I liked the long-term “robotic/cybernetic valet companion role that you identified with K9, Handles, and now Nardole. A couple more examples that might fit into this archetype include Kamilion, present throughout much of the 5th Doctor’s era (although largely unseen) – as well as the Master, as he appeared in Scream of the Shalka.

  20. Swamp Yankee said:

    Who else saw The Doctor in one of the pictures of Bill’s mother?

  21. A few random thoughts but also a sample from bbc points of view and uk channel 4 show Gogglebox. Where a camera inside a tv watches people watching TV.

  22. booksthatbloom said:

    I’m not sure if somebody’s said this already but I keep thinking that John Simm’s Master is inside the vault…

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