In Doctor Who, rebooting the Doctor is easy — the companion is not

There are few issues on TV that really feel pretty much as good as assembly a brand new Doctor and simply realizing they’ll be terrific. Doctor Who’s Twenty first-century run has had a lot of ups and downs up to now, however casting the titular position has by no means been considered one of them. Ncuti Gatwa, the Fifteenth Doctor, is no completely different: instantly charming, charismatic, and odd. In his first full journey, “The Church on Ruby Road,” Gatwa shows shades of Medical doctors who’ve come earlier than whereas placing his personal robust stamp on the position; concurrently welcoming and enigmatic, he’s the type of individual you’d fortunately observe anyplace however is clearly not telling you all the things.

And in “The Church on Ruby Road” we lastly meet Fifteen’s companion for the forthcoming season: Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), an orphan who finds herself in a stretch of very unhealthy luck. The following episode is a wonderfully good vacation romp, the variety that may promote you on each this new Doctor and Ruby Sunday very quickly in any respect, a feat so difficult you may neglect how easy it is to mess up. Doctor Who is good at selecting Medical doctors. The exhausting half is selecting the companion.

Fashionable Doctor Who has put lots of weight on the Doctor’s sidekick, typically to the present’s detriment. The position is arguably extra vital for Doctor Who to get proper than the lead — an excellent companion (or in some circumstances, companions) has to each be the viewers surrogate and the grounding drive for the Doctor. Earlier than showrunner Russell T. Davies left Who for the first time in 2009, his then-final stretch of specials emphasised that unhealthy issues occur when the Doctor is alone, stewing in his centuries-old thoughts as he travels all of time and area and confronts the horrors therein.

Picture: Disney Plus

The place Doctor Who has gotten into bother in the previous is when its writers resolve to make its companion much more than this. Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) grew to become a love curiosity for the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), which you’ll take situation with or not (I personally consider the Doctor-companion relationship ought to at all times be platonic, however flirting is high-quality). Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) almost had her tenure as companion ruined due to the determination to make her smitten with the Doctor, endlessly unrequited as a result of she wasnt Rose.

The worst mistake Doctor Who’s writers could make with a companion, nevertheless, is after they make them a puzzle for the Doctor to resolve. This was the spotlight of the Steven Moffat period of Who, the place long-running plots about “The Girl Who Waited” (Karen Gillan as Amy Pond) or “The Impossible Girl” (Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald). Once more: It’s exhausting sufficient being the companion. Additionally making them a plot gadget? That’s quite a bit!

“The Church on Ruby Road” appears prefer it’s going to go on this course, as Ruby Sunday seems to be the nexus of a number of unnatural coincidences that pile one on prime of one another as the particular goes on. Fortunately, Davies side-steps that notion, merely utilizing it as the means to introduce the monster of this episode: little baby-eating goblins that navigate the universe primarily based on coincidence and in addition like to sing.

Close up of a Gobin, a little goblin creature dressed like a peasant with a nightcap

Picture: Disney Plus

It’s in that form of predicament that the viewers will get to know what sort of companion Ruby Sunday shall be: a younger lady who is sport to match the Doctor beat for beat in no matter it takes to get out of an outlandish state of affairs, even when it means singing and dancing in entrance of some baby-eating goblins. Ruby Sunday is an orphan who needs she knew extra about her previous, however isn’t scared to run towards the future — one that features a time-traveling alien who loves an journey and desperately wants the firm. It feels like the begin of a fairy story.

Which, put merely, is what Doctor Who appears like at its best.

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