Ladies and gentlemen, Time Lords and other Gallifreyans, companions both near and far, hearken to the sound of the TARDIS' cloister bells: The 13th Doctor is here at last. Jodie Whittaker has finally fallen to Earth... and it's about time.
New York Comic Con 2018 may have saved it's biggest holiday cracker for last: Doctor Who just made its triumphant return Sunday, bringing the premiere of its latest season (the first season in the show's 55 year history to depict a female as the new Doctor) with it as part of a global simulcast.
At the heart of this meticulously crafted event was the official Doctor Who panel, with Whittaker (the new Doctor herself) in the room. Watching this show is always a treat, but watching it in the very same room as the new Doctor, let alone a new Doctor of such importance? Talk about a viewing party for the ages.
Whittaker was joined by Who's new showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens. The excitement in the room was fierce, and fans couldn't wait to finally feast their eyes on "The Woman Who Fell To Earth," written by Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs. There was no shortage of Doctor-inspired outfits or sonic screwdrivers, of that you can be sure. There were many 4's, 10's, 11's, and 12's... but more than anything else there were so many 13's. Whittaker's (soon-to-be-iconic) look was everywhere, and her new companions (Tosin Cole's Ryan, Mandip Gill's Yasmin, Bradley Walsh's Graham) were also represented.
The premiere went down with an enthusiastic bang. Whittaker, Chibnall, and Strevens returned for a panel afterward, and they were visibly emotional, with Whittaker thanking the fans.
Chibnall talked about how we now have three companions and he mentioned “following the golden thread” back to the beginning (name-dropping Verity Lambert), when there were three companions as well. Whittaker had nothing but praise for hers, all of whom made their mark in the episode.
Representation and inclusivity also surfaced at the panel, with Chibnall saying that the topics were very much on his mind. “We’ll tell stories from perspectives that perhaps the show hasn’t before,” he said.
Whittaker called the many sonic screwdrivers in the audience “extraordinary,” and the making of the sonic itself turned out to be one of the audience’s favorite moments.
The there was also her “practical” outfit, as Whittaker described it, adding that it “had pockets, it’s got to have pockets!” She explained that she certainly had a say in the creation of it, and worked with the costume designer “like secret squirrels” to get it right. One of the many images Whittaker looked to for inspiration was a black-and-white image of a woman “walking with purpose, deep in thought, with trousers, boots, and bracers.” She called it timeless, and also said that if you held it far away, it looked “genderless.”
As the cast took questions from the audience, they remained mum on a few (would the Doctor’s wife, River Song, ever return? No comment) and gamely answered others. That included one about Whittaker’s influences, which, as she cited, included “Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth...a beautifully flawed character has to question herself throughout… Mikey from The Goonies...also Flight of the Navigator.” It wasn’t, she noted, “the heroics in the grownups, it was the heroics in the kids. That’s what I want to bring to the Doctor.”
So what kind of lasting impact does Whittaker want to leave?
“I want it to be such a second of history that it becomes forgotten because it becomes the norm,” she said. Chibnall, meanwhile, called the Doctor a great “symbol of unity,” whether male, female, or non-binary.
Whittaker also touched on the misogynistic backlash following her casting, noting that the angry voices “might be louder,” but are far from the majority. She added, “The reason I don’t let it get me down is because it’s daft.”
One fan managed to say it best when stepping up to the mic with a message for Whittaker: “We have waited a long time for you, and we are so glad you are here.”