Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

IT’S FINALLY HERE! NEW DOCTOR WHO! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Lynne as we gush over the new Doctor and pick apart this first episode. We’re quite pleased overall, but as always, there are some serious issues worth discussing, and discuss them we do!

How are you feeling about the new Doctor, the new “fam”, the new showrunner, the questionable narrative choice(s), the secret pigeon, the term “comfrienion”, and everything else? Let us know in the comments!


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Comments on: "Ep 176 – The Women Who Fell to Earth" (38)

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

    :klaxons: IT IS TIME

  2. Sarah42 said:

    Well, where do I start? Probably with the fact that I haven’t been a big fan of modern DW, and have, in fact, become much more of a Peter Capaldi fan than a NuWhovian. I just don’t think modern DW is that great, despite its reputation of RTD and Tennant having been Gods on Earth.

    I’ve become increasingly fed-up with the feeling that the BBC had no interest in supporting Capaldi, and all the drooling “who can play the next hot, YOUNG Doctor?!” starting up as soon as he was cast, and the feeling (fostered by the anti-Capaldi loons at Gallifrey Base) that he was forced out by Chibnall’s agenda. (Which he kind of was. Chibnall has admitted that he only became showrunner to have a female Doctor.) And now I’ve witnessed an astonishing outpouring of hatred for Capaldi himself from critics and nutty “fans”, when that weirdness is probably better aimed at Moffat.

    So, I want to be done with NuWho, because it’s not worth watching a lovely man who’s been a great ambassador for the show being demonized by ignorant jerks.

    But. Because I’ve given every era a chance, I watched this premiere.

    Oh, God, that was so Chibnall. So mediocre, with the black woman being killed off for all-important manpain. Literally the only good aspect of it that I saw (kind of difficult to see in all that darkness) was Whittaker having some sparkle, and her being a wildly inventive engineer. Chibnall managed to say some interesting things about regeneration. But it was so pedestrian and dull, it makes me laugh nastily to see people go on and on about how they can finally watch DW again, that DW is back and free of Moffat.

    I might be influenced by the fact that BBC America prefers to play ads than the show, and the experience of watching DW that way is painful. I don’t think I’ll watch the rest until it’s out on DVD, as had been my original plan, because it’s not good enough to make a special effort. Let’s hope that Chibnall’s writing team can be more interesting than he is.

    • I agree with you on many points.

      I’m going to stay watching new who for now, but largely because I ignore the neanderthal fans on twitter – And mediocre Nu Who (most of it) is better than a lot of other free to air television.

      But, as I mentioned below, if they go too far in mirroring the original Tardis team or the quality drops further then I’ll be joining you

  3. Neowhovian said:

    Re: Grace’s death

    Given the publicity going into the series, I was also complacent about Grace’s fate. I spent most of the episode wondering what was going to prevent her from joining the Doctor in the TARDIS. She had *every* characteristic that a Companion usually has. (“Is it wrong that I’m enjoying this?”) When she fell, I was really sad, but it all made sense. (Somehow I didn’t see it coming. Maybe I’m not as story-savvy as I like to think…)

    I totally agree with y’all that the optics are really bad, though. My initial guess was that there would be travel back along the timeline to visit her later in the series. Cautiously optimistic…

    • parksml2001 said:

      I think Graham very specific comment of being in remission will resurface. Possibly going back to sacrifice himself for Grace.

      Also I like the idea of the companions are brought along inadvertently at first.

  4. I have been enjoying your podcast for quite some time. That said, I find some of the comments in this one problematic. My biggest issue is you seem to have a huge issue with the death of Grace from a representation standpoint, yet one suggestion is that Graham should have died instead (he is the only older white male character, and it was even suggested that he should have been made into a gay character) It seems that you are concerned about representation for any group except for straight white men, and this feeds into the negative reaction to the big changes this year, giving them fuel for fiery pushback. Also, to me, representation/inclusion/diversity is not nearly as important as story.My main question when assessing a doctor who story is: was the story any good? Chibnall’s previous doctor who efforts, to me, have been mediocre at best, I am very worried going forward that he is much better suited to Broadchurch and Torchwood. I actually nodded off the first two times I watched this story. Hopefully things improve.

    • I suspect the lack of interest in representation for straight white males is because, rather obviously, they already have most of the representation in Doctor Who and, indeed, media as a whole, and don’t need anyone to advocate for them. They are already overrepresented. Just because they don’t have much representation in a single episode doesn’t negate that. Really, it should be less since there’ve been decades of underrepresentation of every other demographic. It’s only fair.

      • so we fix discrimination by discriminating and by wishing death on characters who don’t represent the group needing “make-up” favoritism? wow…….

      • I disagree

        Bitchily suggesting that the only white male character should die is living Down to the worst expectations feminists.

        Can’t we be feminists and humanists and treat everyone as we want to be treated?

        Or perhaps the new Verity agenda now to ignore every episode of Doctor Who and Big Finish with a white make Doctor? Because if we can’t have a white male companion then is a white male Doctor not worth attention either?

      • Deborah Stanish said:

        Do feel free to comment – we love diverse opinions. However, words you could have chosen to describe Liz’s response: “Coldly”, “Snarky”, “Matter-of-Factly”, “Rudely”, even They are all fine, un-gendered words that carry weight you were looking for. Instead you chose “Bitchily” which is decidedly gendered, not to mention sexist and demeaning. Once you went there, I stopped listening. – Deb

  5. Thank you for an entertaining episode.

    ENOUGH WITH THE CHIBNALL BASHING. There is an enormous difference between critique and prejudicial cynicism. I want critique, it’s why I listen to Verity! When a podcast or any article starts in by bashing a story simply because it is a Moffat story or a RTD story, they lose me immediately. There was a lot in this episode from Deb that hit me the same way.

    Of course there was a reason to discuss the unfortunate death of Grace. I’m glad the controversial aspects of the story were discussed, but the repeated negativity and cynicism, including the terribly unfortunate term “Chibness,” was very unnecessary, and it begins to sound like the sort of thing I really can’t stand. “Yeah but Cyberwoman” is something I don’t ever need to hear again from anyone.

    I am so excited for more of Jodie’s Doctor, and for more of Chris Chibnall’s development of the show. I thought it was great, with room for improvement. I was entranced by Jodie and the other actors. I thought the cinematography was amazing. The underlying story wasn’t fantastic, but it was better than a good number of other Doctor Who stories, but it still provided an excellent framework as we got to know the characters.

    I was surprised to hear that some of the verities didn’t connect much with Yasmin. She wasn’t deeply developed, but I felt like I got to see a lot of who she is—at least enough to know she is competent, caring, intelligent, and good-natured.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      As you said, the underlying story wasn’t fantastic – something I find to be a Chibnall trend and weakness and I will continue to call that out. However, as I ALSO said, Chibnall writes some of my very favorite personal moments in the new series and he, perhaps, has the most skill of all the modern era show runners in packing small scenes with maximum emotion. I will also continue to laude him for that. (And sorry – Cyberwoman was, even without the ridiculous costume, a mess of a story packed with great emotional moments. Ten years on, it’s still peak Chibnall.)

  6. Is no one going to mention the fact that Chibnall canonized the Doctor previously being a woman?!?!?! When Yaz tells her she needs to get out of her current clothes, the Doctor says, “it’s been a long time since I’ve bought women’s clothes.”

    • this is just a false premise/ assumption. the doctor presumably bought clothes for susan, his granddaughter, at some point.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      I liked that that moment was deliberately ambiguous and people can take from that what they want!

    • Sonja said:

      So, that means the first doctor wasn’t really the first and has regenerations prior to leaving Gallifery?

  7. I really enjoyed this episode, and I loved the Doctor from the moment she was on screen. It was fun watching this with my 11 year old son and 16 year old daughter, both who had drifted away during previous seasons.

    I had a feeling Grace wasn’t going to make it because I hadn’t seen her in any of the few promo pictures I had seen. I was disappointed by this because she was great. I identified with her the most because she was an older woman. Don’t see those on the tardis ever.

    Really looking forward to next weeks episode!

  8. Like Deb, I adored the character work, but felt that the story wasn’t outstanding. I know, I know, it’s an intro for everyone, does it have to be. And, no, it doesn’t have to be, but it would have been nice if it was. But regardless of that, these were fabulous characters and their interactions were really lovely. I agree about Yasmin. I like her, but I think there’s more getting to know her to come. I have a feeling she could be my favourite by series end, though.

    Jodie Whittaker was tremendous and I can’t wait to get to know her Doctor more. She’s so full of life, it’s delightful to watch. She wasn’t just the Doctor, she was so comfortably the Doctor from the word go, even if she didn’t have the word for it. Just utterly comfortable in her skin. And she’s perfected that alien look in the eye (my only requirement for being a good Doctor). So much so, I actually got a little bit of a feeling of Four from her. And, yes, all the hard yards the Twelfth Doctor had to put in to to Get People seem to have stuck in this regeneration. Maybe explicitly putting in a request to hang on to a particular trait you want to keep actually works. Who knew?

    With regard to Grace, I wasn’t thrilled with the choice they made, especially considering the racial dynamics, but I am reserving my judgement until the end of the series. If she only appears in flashbacks and her memory is just used to motivate Graham and Ryan, I won’t be happy. You don’t just remember someone you’ve lost when you need an inspiration. If they do as the Doctor says and carry her with them and not just use her memory when Convenient For The Narrative, I’ll be somewhat mollified. That said, I really don’t think the only option available for her was death. I read somewhere else that killing off a character like that in the first episode to propel the narrative seems to be a writing habit of Chris Chibnall and I just hope that he’s putting a new twist on it.

    All that said, I’m really looking forward to what is to come. I may have quibbles, but at the end of the day, it’s Doctor Who. Of course I’m going to love it.

  9. Wingson Wong said:

    I was looking forward to your podcast almost as much as I was looking forward to “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”! Thank you so much for a wonderfully fun, insightful, and heartfelt discussion. I loved Jodie Whittaker and cannot wait to see her for the rest of the season. She was warm, funny, quirky, brave, kind, and fully inhabited the role of the Doctor. And I really loved the all of the “friends” and their character interactions. The pacing and writing were so well grounded in a real sense of life, relationships, and place. This is going to be a really fun ride!

    It was great to hear all of you talk about and highlight the life principle of fair play (AKA justice) over power. What a timely, difficult, sad, and hopeful conversation to have – especially with so many around us embracing hate, authoritarianism, and cruelty. It was such a relief and a joy to be able to escape for just a moment in which good people still matter and can still make a difference.

    One thing that I hope that you will have an opportunity to discuss in future podcasts is the new music by Segun Akinola. What a sharp and fascinating contrast between Mr. Akinola’s take on music for Doctor Who and that of Murray Gold. Quieter, subtler, really ethereal, and very moving on its own terms. I really loved Murray Gold, bombastic as the music was, and was very curious how Segun Akinola would approach composing music for the show. I thought he was fantastic. It was music that I did not catch on a conscious level at first, but completely fit the new vibe for the show that Chris Chibnall and his production team were bringing. Anyway, I hope that you will all be able to do a podcast that compares and analyzes the two.

    Once again, thank you for your wonderful podcasts. Your commentaries are always filled with positive comments, insightful and grounded critiques, and a really sharp sense of humor that always makes me laugh without belittling anyone. Keep shining that light in the darkness!

    • Hey,

      I agree with you about the music. I barely noticed it during my first watch, but my second watch was in the cinema and the music? Was proper creepy. It was subtle, but in surround sound it was really, really creepy. I liked it, and look forward to seeing what Akinola does with the rest of the season.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      I’m another person who is not great at paying attention to musical cues. Honestly, I’ve only had strong opinions about the music when it’s too loud and overpowers the dialogue as some of the Modern Who era eps have done. That being said, I did pay attention to the music when the Doctor was building her sonic and thought “oh, that’s lovely – I wonder if that’s this Doctor’s ‘theme?'”. I will definitely be paying more attention in future eps because it was so different from Gold’s work and I’m excited to see how it works with the storytelling.

  10. Hey! So I loved it.

    Something I want to raise that wasn’t talked about on the podcast – The was an entire montage of a female Doctor science-ing it up and building her sonic on screen. She has her leather apron on and her goggles and she melts down metal and welds stuff together and solders a computer chip. And just to add to the mad science, she hits it with a sledgehammer. I’m an arts and humanities type person, science isn’t my thing, but seeing that on screen, seeing a woman physically creating something, was so important.

    • Wingson Wong said:

      YES!!! That’s right. I had noticed that during the episode as well, and really enjoyed how that entire scene flipped over all of those old stereotypes and tropes about what women can and cannot do. It is incredible to be able to watch and be a fan of a show that is willing to showcase engaging role models that have the power to inspire young women and girls to consider opportunities that they might not have envisioned for themselves before. It reminds me of a book that I recently came across entitled “Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History” by Sam Maggs. All women. All brilliant.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      That is a great point -I loved that scene so much! Like I said in the ep, here is someone taking literal scraps and building something amazing with her own hands and intellect. The metaphor of that hit me hard.

  11. Tamara said:

    It’s so good to hear talk of new episodes again! And I agree with all of you – Jodie just killed it. She was still as kooky and strange as any Doctor, but I found with her voice that she had a gentler tone, which I loved.

    One thing that I haven’t seen any discussion about yet: What was up with the Doctor saying to Karl that he had no right to kick Tim Shaw off the crane? To me, that didn’t make any sense. It was a cruel thing to say (seeing he was trying to find courage and self worth) and, well, *wrong*. Karl had every right to protect himself, because he was the one being kidnapped. So why would the Doctor say that to him? Was the line supposed to be a joke? The Doctor has said it before to people – the tenth Doctor said it to Harriet Jones, that she had no right to fire at a retreating ship, so this doesn’t seem like a thing said lightly.

    It just… confused me. Any ideas?

    • I think it’s a “no one has the right to kill someone who has surrendered” message.

      Karl didn’t know the teleport would activate, so he was choosing to murder a captive

      • the alien was not a captive (it was neither confined nor restrained) and it specifically refused to surrender. Karl had EVERY right to defend himself.

  12. Simon Billinton said:

    Just caught up with your episode. There was definitely plenty to ponder with a new Doctor, comfranions, new showrunner etc. Ever since Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whitaker were announced, I’ve been wary of the former and curious of the latter. I’m still wary of Chibnall and pleased with Jodie. Not blown away yet, as I like my Doctors to have a thing, a character trait, a flaw, whereas she seems quite well rounded and grounded. but as usual I will grow to love her I’m sure.
    The Comfranions all seemed good, Graham in particular. Loved his funeral speech.
    It felt like a high quality modern piece of tv drama and Chibnall does that very well. Where relationships and characters are central, he excels. But still haven’t seen enough to convince me he can excel at writing Doctor Who which at it’s best is drama + sci-fi + humour + imagination.
    All his episodes feel like they need an injection of pace and electricity. To use a food analogy, he writes slow cooked stews, whereas Moffat wrote mostly pan-fried on a high heat. RTD was fish and chips.
    I think that analogy works 😉

  13. Positives for me
    – very Classic era with overt death scenes and no magic ‘they’re all back from the dead’ devaluing of death that’s been in some recent years
    – interesting characters, diverse characters and very real, flawed characters (I agree with Erica about the Robert Holmes influence although the script doesn’t reach Holmes high standard)
    – no bombastic music
    – a good Doctor, not great so far but ok

    – clunky dialogue, I hope this improves as the series progresses
    – the choice to have all the incidental deaths be male characters put too much gender emphasis onto Grace’s death. There needed to be another incidental female character death on screen to balance the cost and the diversity of deaths
    – the dark visuals don’t match the Nu Vibrant Who promos

    I’m not sure if I like or dislike the parallels to the original Tardis team – an old man, his grandchild, a competent blond woman, an action hero. If it stays as an echo then its clever but if it becomes too overt then it’ll be cheesy.

    Dear Verities, you argued whether Grace’s death was s fridging and missed the literal fridging. The little girl who disappeared and was her brother’s motivation IS IN A FRIDGE on an alien world. That is the ultimate in fridging.

  14. John Pelzer III said:

    It was a good first First New Doctor episode (hard to beat The Eleventh Hour). Favorite scene was the construction of a new sonic. The spoons made me think of the Seventh Doctor…and The Matrix…ANYWAY, um…Favorite lines were: “…ask a bus driver (the last time Graham said it)”, and “I’m almost going to miss you (possible paraphrase…by THE DOCTOR!!!)”.

  15. Andreas said:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought there should have been some reference to
    the tooth fairy! I can’t see Moffat not doing it.

    Jodie was as good as I expected, and then some! Clearly the highlight of the episode.

    As a whole, I was a little disappointed by the episode the first time I watched it. It just felt a bit pedestrian at times, lacking the kind of spark that I always find at least somewhere in a Moffat story. My estimation has improved from letting it simmer in my mind a few days, though.

  16. I thought the spoons used to make the new sonic were a reference to the 12th Doctor’s dual with Robin Hood. I thought that’s why she smiled.

  17. Felicity said:

    I loved hearing you all praise Jodie, and you gave me additional reasons to love her performance that I hadn’t picked up on. I don’t know whether Katrina’s or Lynne’s revelation was more shocking!

    From a US perspective I agree it seems weird for Graham to expect Ryan to call him Granddad. My Grandma passed away when I was 9 and my brother was 5. Grandpa’s second wife was always Marion to us, never Grandma, and that was even the case for my sister who was born after Grandma died (though I guess she just followed our lead).

  18. Eric P Gjovaag said:

    I’w going to bring up something in relation to Grace: Suzie Costello from “Torchwood”. Initial publicity for season 1 indicated that she would be one of the regulars, and Indira Varma even participated in a lot of the pre-show hype. So it was a big shock when she was killed in the first episode—and an even bigger shock when she came back later on in the season! So maybe, just maybe, Chibnall is borrowing from that for Grace, and we’ll see her again later this season.

  19. Daniel Fields said:

    I have been a Whovian for years but have only been into podcasts for about one year. I listen to podcasts of several of my favorite shows, and with the advent of a new Doctor, I searched for Doctor Who and found you. I love your honest opinions and analysis! I referenced this episode to friends all week.I look forward to digging through your old episodes.

  20. Paul B. =:o} said:

    Yay! I got here at last. I’ve been looking forward to hearing your first impressions of Jodie W, but I wanted to hear them in context, after your responses to Capaldi’s run, and any introspection or prognostication you did during the gap… I got a bit side-tracked by Earp Chirp for a few weeks recently, but now I’m back on a Verity! roll. =:o}

    And what a long and lively discussion this was! So much packed in there, I really need to hear it all again before commenting further. Oh, the hardship… =;o}

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