Doctor Who Regenerates Into The Best Season In Years

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

After getting to open the present early with a Christmas special, fans were recently treated to the proper premiere of the latest Doctor Who season. The fandom was largely divided ahead of this debut, with some rejoicing at the return of Russell T. Davies as showrunner and others worried about whether Ncuti Gatwa would be a worthy incarnation of the Doctor. Fortunately, those fears were misplaced: not only is Gatwa a winning Doctor from the start, but Davies is delivering a better quality Who than we have had for years.

Ncuti Gatwa Combines The Best Doctors

Ncuti Gatwa is instantly mesmerizing as the Doctor, and that’s largely because his performance gives Doctor Who fans the best of both worlds. He mixes the earnestly playful nature of David Tennant with the world-weary wonder of Matt Smith. Along the way, he adds a welcome dose of sexy swagger that holds the entire performance together with confidence and poise.

Millie Gibson Needs More To Do

As the latest companion on Doctor Who, Millie Gibson gives a perfectly adequate performance as Ruby Sunday. She suffers a bit by comparison, though, and it’s tough not to think of her as a slighter and more forgettable version of Billie Piper’s Rose. Sadly, recent reports that she will be replaced as the Companion next year by Varsada Sethu mean that she has a limited window to make this role her own.

First Two Episodes Highlight Different Strengths

Disney dropped two new Doctor Who episodes at once, and each episode helped highlight very different things this franchise does best. The first episode uses whimsy as the candy coating around a very emotional tale of love and acceptance. The second episode focuses more on menace and mystery, though the fourth-wall-breaking musical number at the end is weapons-grade whimsy at its best.

Space Babies Is A New Type Of Premiere

Compared to other Doctor Who season premieres, it was downright impressive how much the first episode (Disney has the Christmas Special as Episode 1), “Space Babies,” exemplifies the episodic nature of the franchise. Gone is the kind of overly cinematic opening that brought us Matt Smith during Steven Moffat’s tenure. In its overwrought place is a welcome slice-of-time adventure that mixes humor and heart, which is arguably the best way to attract audiences (a major goal of Disney+).

Devil’s Chord Features A Musical Number

The second Doctor Who episode, “Devil’s Chord,” is much more of a mixed bag. The episode features a frustrating new Big Bad who is arch without being smart and camp without being clever. This combines with some awful Beatles casting to make the episode drag at times (while our attention gently weeps). Fortunately, we get a show-stopping musical ending that helped make up for how much of a drag the first half is.

A Bold New Era For Doctor Who On Disney+


Despite some missteps (including the return of Russell T. Davies’ signature weird body humor), the new Doctor Who season is off to such a strong start that I can confidently give it 4 out of 5 stars. Some of the storytelling shortcuts fall flat, and the new Companion is still finding her space legs and trying to differentiate herself from the sidekicks of years past. So far, though, the season is delivering on the clever dialogue, heartfelt reveals, and generally chill vibes that fans have been missing, and that’s enough to make our two hearts feel very, very full.