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‘Doctor Who’ Welcomed Its fifteenth Doctor. Here’s How He Stacks Up.

‘Doctor Who’ Welcomed Its fifteenth Doctor. Here’s How He Stacks Up.


With most TV exhibits, a serious casting change is a dreaded occasion. But for followers of the long-running British sequence “Doctor Who,” large casting modifications are anticipated, even anticipated. With the present’s newest Christmas episode, which premiered Monday on Disney+, we obtained acquainted with the latest Doctor, performed by Ncuti Gatwa (“Sex Education”) — the fifteenth Doctor and the primary Black, overtly queer one in sequence historical past.

The arrival of a brand new Doctor, the present’s titular time-traveling, space-wandering alien, is at all times a buzzy event. But though the Doctor usually dies and is regenerated within the ultimate minutes of some climactic episode, it’s the one instantly following that actually establishes the brand new incarnation and what sort of taste she or he will provide. These first full episodes with a brand new Doctor, together with this yr’s Christmas particular, “The Church on Ruby Road,” can reveal loads about how that Doctor’s tenure will go.

Here’s a glance again on the first post-regeneration episodes of each Doctor for the reason that present’s 2005 revival.

Actor: David Tennant

First Full Episode: “The Christmas Invasion”

Writer: Russell T. Davies

First Words: “Hello. OK. New enamel, that’s bizarre. So, the place was I? Oh, that’s proper! Barcelona.”

After a profitable revival in 2005 — with one tight season of Christopher Eccleston because the Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper because the Doctor’s plucky shopgirl companion, Rose Tyler — the sequence hit its stride with the subsequent three seasons, beginning with what is probably the most effective reincarnation episode for the reason that sequence’s return, “The Christmas Invasion.” The episode was an auspicious begin to the present’s new Golden Age, led by the showrunner and author Russell T. Davies, with David Tennant because the Doctor.

The tenth Doctor delivers a rambling monologue stuffed with queries about what sort of man he’s, like Shakespeare refracted via some prism of intergalactic and temporal mysteries; however Tennant’s efficiency by no means permits any doubt that he is aware of who his Doctor is. In a scene close to the tip of the episode, Tennant’s Doctor firmly declares, “No second probabilities; I’m that type of man,” whereas sending an enemy to his doom. The scene supplied a preview of how completely Tennant’s Doctor would embody the duality of this hero via his three-plus seasons within the TARDIS — a masterly stability of stillness and chatter, heft and levity.

Actor: Matt Smith

First Full Episode: “The Eleventh Hour”

Writer: Steven Moffat

First Words: “Legs! I’ve nonetheless obtained legs!”

It’s becoming that Matt Smith’s playful younger Doctor (the youngest, in reality; Smith was simply 26 when solid for the function) begins his tenure in a state of chaos, hanging out of a spinning TARDIS. Known for his quick speaking, ebullient allure, the eleventh Doctor is manic and wide-eyed within the method of a precocious child on a sugar excessive.

Crashing into the yard of a younger Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood), who’s impartial and fearless however for the menacing crack in her bed room wall, the Doctor arrives able to step into the function of savior, although he’s frazzled coping with a resetting TARDIS and the aftereffects of his regeneration. Popping again into his TARDIS and promising Amelia he’ll be again in 5 minutes, the Doctor returns to seek out that little Amelia has grown up into Amy (Karen Gillan), who spent years ready for a person everybody doubted was actual.

Amy’s life is formed across the absence of a magical man whom she clings to with a surprisingly unflappable religion. Her emotional arc with the Doctor is her studying to change into impartial from the Doctor. But the eleventh’s moments of tenderness — as when he grabs the younger Amelia’s hand, anticipating the hazard — presage the familial relationship that the Doctor will develop with the older Amy and her boyfriend and future centurion husband, Rory (Arthur Darvill).

Actor: Peter Capaldi

First Full Episode: “Deep Breath”

Writer: Steven Moffat

First phrases: “Kidneys! I’ve obtained new kidneys! I don’t like the colour.”

In Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor and Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald, Moffat created one other cute, flirtatious pairing for the TARDIS. The rapid-fire repartee and seamless synergy between the 2 obtained a harsh shake-up within the type of the Doctor’s regeneration into the twelfth, performed by Peter Capaldi.

This post-regeneration episode — which begins in Victorian London, the place a dinosaur spontaneously combusts within the Thames, and ends as an organ-stealing cyborg tries to flee in a hot-air balloon fabricated from human pores and skin — was a brooding begin for the twelfth, whose tenure signaled a pointy tonal shift from the eleventh’s. Capaldi’s Doctor is impolite and pretentious, fast to condescend these round him and snap a fast “shut up.” He is extra harking back to the Ninth in temperament: He exhibits extra disgust and self-hate, and he’s extra haunted by his previous actions. The twelfth seems harsh on the floor however isn’t any much less devoted than earlier docs to holding everybody protected and alive on the finish of the day.

Capaldi was 55 when solid within the function, almost 30 years older than his predecessor, and the present appeared to spend the entire first episode making an attempt to appease followers who might need opposed the large change. In truth, the episode baldly makes use of the out-of-place dinosaur as a logo of this a lot older, out-of-place Doctor. It’s not essentially the most elegant or delicate transfer, however Capaldi nonetheless manages to wring sincere emotion from the image — one thing he would proceed to do all through his tenure as Doctor, particularly in his later episodes. The twelfth by no means confirmed the identical humanity because the tenth and eleventh did, however he had a streak of knowledge that neither may match.

Actor: Jodie Whittaker

First Full Episode: “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”

Writer: Chris Chibnall

First Words: “Oh, good!”

“Doctor Who” writers are all responsible, at one time or one other, of throwing an excessive amount of on the wall. But often a good proportion sticks. That was by no means true of Chris Chibnall’s writing throughout Whittaker’s disastrous run because the Doctor.

Usually the Doctor’s first episodes are extra pared down; there’s no have to get excessive with a Predator-type alien who cheats at his human-hunting examination through the use of biotech to tag his human — and within the course of installs DNA bombs within the collarbones of the Doctor and her new buddies.

And talking of buddies, the episode is chock-full of them, overcrowding Whittaker’s efficiency, which stays at a gentle stage of earnestness and enthusiasm however fails to provide nuance or selection. The first episode in a season-long try to copy the extra syrupy, healthful high quality of the outdated “Who” episodes, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” can’t pull off any sense of menace or stakes, even when some characters start dying.

Actor: David Tennant

First Full Episode: “The Star Beast”

Writer: Russell T. Davies

First Words: “I do know these enamel. … What? What? What?!”

In some ways, the return of Davies and Tennant after the exploding TARDIS catastrophe that was Seasons 11 via 13 felt like an emergency rescue maneuver. With a number of keystrokes, Davies may have undermined or overwritten the 30-plus episodes of the earlier Doctor’s arc, however the episode graciously makes a number of nods — each comedic and nostalgic — to the present’s try at telling extra progressive and numerous tales throughout Chibnall’s run, joking at one level that the Doctor’s reversion to cis-male kind was clearly a downgrade.

“The Star Beast” which begins the abbreviated three-episode return of Tennant’s tenth Doctor, now thought-about the 14th, is a refreshing return for the present. But even Davies’s charming dialogue and interesting plots can’t make up for the tissue-thin logic behind this repeat Doctor regeneration.

That stated, the performances, the reunion of those outdated faves, the digestible story and the addition of an absurd new alien to the Whoniverse within the type of the Meep (a Furby-type creature that speaks like Yoda), all make “The Star Beast” a stable entry within the “Doctor Who” catalog.

Actor: Ncuti Gatwa

First Full Episode: “The Church on Ruby Road”

Writer: Russell T. Davies

First Words: “No manner.” “You’re me!” “No, I’m me. I feel I’m actually, actually me!”

Another Christmas premiere, “The Church on Ruby Road” is the primary full outing for Ncuti Gatwa’s fifteenth Doctor. The plot — involving mischievous, baby-thieving goblins — will get too cutesy at instances (a goblin musical quantity takes issues too far), but it surely tidily connects the Doctor’s advanced origin story with that of Ruby, a full of life younger girl and adoptee who’s trying to find data on her beginning household.

Gatwa’s Doctor really looks like a Doctor Who for the twenty first century and a becoming follow-up to Tennant’s Doctor. The fifteenth is fashionable and liberated, with a vibe that’s sensual and unbuttoned; he’s a Doctor who appears rather more at residence than the others in his physique. He is chipper however not frivolous, and he’s able to depth that isn’t restricted to darkness. At one level within the episode, the fifteenth Doctor cries — full, drip-down-the-face tears — over the kidnapping of somebody he simply met and the way that abduction has hardened these implicated within the loss. Gatwa’s Doctor exhibits a substantial amount of humanity, which isn’t at all times a given for the character, who typically understands people intellectually however closes himself off to a extra complete human expertise.

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