Saturday, April 15, 2017

Doctor Who--"The Pilot"

      Leave it to Doctor Who to take something as innocuous as a puddle of water and turn it in to something terrifying. The feat is even more impressive considering 'the Pilot' is a series premiere that must kick things up a notch beyond the average monster of the week episode. It does so splendidly by mixing the genres of horror and science fiction in with old and new elements, not the least of which is a new companion.
      The Doctor has been posing as a university professor for some time when he takes an interest in Bill. Bill works in the university's cafeteria. Even though she is not a student, she attends all the doctor's lectures. He asks her to his office to find out why and winds up making pearl his assistant. Things must go badly, of course, and thy do when pearl's friend heather becomes fascinated by a puddle of water that casts an odd reflection.
      The puddle does not actually cast a reflection, but mimics whoever peers into it. The puddle is an alien fluid that posses Heather. It turns her into the “pilot.” Fluid Heather stalks Bill with the intention of her being a “passenger.” There are some neat and creepy special effects as Pearl is chased first by living water, then Fluid Heather as a solid figure.
      Bill seeks sanctuary in the Doctor's office. At this point, she is unaware of his true nature. But when Fluid Heather confronts them, they escape in the TARDIS. Fluid Heather chases them through space and time as they travel from a vault at he university (foreshadowing, folks.), a yacht in Sydney harbor, an alien planet millions of years in the future, and a battle between the Daleks and Movellans. Bill convince Fluid heather not to take her as a passenger, and fluid heather dissolves herself. Upon returning to the university, the doctor intends to wipe bill's memory of recent events. He changes his mind, and offers Bill the chance to become his companion. She readily accepts.
      I was impressed with much of “The Pilot.” As mentioned above, it is cool when the show can take something as innocent looking as a peddle of water and turn it into something scary. The special effects for the living water flowing are great. Bill's introduction is also done well. She is a unique companion, she is more mature than usual. She is fascinated by the Doctor's intellect and does not seem likely to develop a puppy crush on him as past companions tend to do. 
     If there is a problem with the episode, it is that parts feel too gimmicky. The TARDIS travels to Australia for the sole purpose of featuring the Sydney Opera House as a backdrop. I did not see a reason to include the Daleks and Movellans other than as a wink to the past. Maybe I am picking nits, but it felt like an attempt to tug at viewer nostalgia rather than an effort to further the plot.
    The good outweighs the bad, though. I enjoyed the episode, and am intrigued enough y the series set up to return to see how it plays out. That is what the first episode of a new series is supposed to do.
      Rating; *** (out of 5)

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