New York Comic Con at Madison Square Garden went wild Sunday as “Broadchurch” star Jodie Whittaker appeared as the first-ever female Time Lord in the 11th season’s opening episode of the cult favorite “Doctor Who.” And to top it off, the doctor herself was in the house.
The episode, featuring the 13th incarnation of Dr. Who, debuted via BBC and BBC America on Sunday.
Deadline deemed the premiere one of the “most complete and rewarding” resets for the series since it first appeared in Britain in 1963. NPR said that Whittaker’s doctor “nailed the basics” while also cleanly stepping out from the “long shadows cast by previous doctors.” Within minutes, Whittaker “made it clear that yes, being a woman suits the Doctor just fine,” noted Variety.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall underscored at Comic Con that Dr. Who comes in all “shapes and sizes, genders, sexualities and ethnicities.”
As for the titular character, she comes crashing through the ceiling of a train under attack by an alien force at the start of the first episode, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” As usual, she has to think fast, or at least as a regenerating brain can think. The rest of the tale involves a missing girl, a ball of writhing tentacles and an interplanetary search, among other things.
Whittaker’s appearance seemed perfectly timed in the wake of the confirmation of new Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. President Donald Trump and son Donald Jr. have apparently both been worried about false sexual assault accusations against men from women whom the president has disparaged as “elevator screamers.”
But Whittaker assured people last year when her debut was announced that no one should be frightened now that Dr. Who is a woman. “Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one,” she told the BBC.
Whittaker also said then that the new role “feels completely overwhelming” but also “incredible” as a “feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to … challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be.”
Dr. Who’s gender revolution is having an impact that non-Whovians may have a difficult time imagining. Check out testimonials in the video below to what Whittaker’s debut means to fans.
“We have a voice and we are entitled to be listened to,” Whittaker said at Comic Con on a weekend panel, referring to the emergence of a female Dr. Who. “What is wonderful is the united hood, the united sisterhood, the united Whohood, and the united humanhood that we all can embrace.”