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(Review) Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road

The Doctor Who 60th anniversary celebrations are now behind us.  It was a blast to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate reunite, as the curtain came down (for the moment) on the story of the 14th Doctor.  Now it's time for the Ncuti Gatwa era to begin, as the series largely wipes the slate clean for a new Doctor and new adventures.  This year's Christmas special (and how great is it to say that again?), The Church on Ruby Road, makes it clear that our favorite Time Lord is starting a new chapter.  It also hammers home that Gatwa was a terrific choice for the 15th Doctor.

(Warning:  Spoilers ahead.)

We start with an introduction to new companion, Ruby Sunday, played by Millie Gibson.  Abandoned as a baby on Christmas Eve, there are immediate questions about the identity of her parents, as well as why the Doctor happens to be in the area when she's left outside a church.  Fast-forward to an adult Ruby who is looking for her parents, spending time with her friends as a musician, and noticing the stylish man in a tank top and kilt dancing in the club.

There will be in-depth pieces written about Nucti Gatwa's dancing in this scene.  This is the movement of an individual more comfortable in his skin than we have ever seen from the Time Lord.  The confidence, the freedom, and the charisma are all immediately obvious, and let's just cut to the chase - whatever your sexual identity - this Doctor is hot.  We are heading into uncharted waters, friends.

Ruby Sunday has an air of mystery about her because of the circumstances of her birth, but there's also a lightness to her presence.  She brightens up the world around her, whether it's her friends, neighbors, or adoptive family.  She also doesn't hesitate to spring into action when faced with a crisis.  There's good reason to be confident that Ruby will be a strong addition to the Whoniverse.

Actress Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa have immediate chemistry.  It's too early to know if there will end up being yet another love interest angle, but Ruby Sunday clicks with the Doctor, asking all of the right questions as she tries to figure out what the hell is happening around her.  However this dynamic plays out, it's clear Ruby feels comfortable with the Time Lord.  They were both abandoned as children and have had to make families of their own.  It's a perfect fit.

As for the 15th Doctor, the initial reaction is that he's remarkable.  He's seemingly made peace with (most of) his history, leaving it behind with #14.  There's a pure joy, unrestrained warmth, and openness to this incarnation that we've never seen before.  It is clear that he's still processing the ramifications of The Timeless Child (and that this story is in much better hands with Russell T. Davies), but seeing the Doctor with his guard down as a general default is fascinating.  We see the Doctor in a whole new light and want to know even more about him.

We won't give away too much of the plot, but in case you haven't heard, the villains are goblins.  They're a touch on the generic side, but that's okay for a Christmas special.  (We would like to know where one of them got a Christmas cap.)  The most striking thing about them is that their presence involves another musical number.  There was one in The Giggle, so apparently the show does this now.  However, this one takes things a step further by having the Doctor and Ruby sing.  It's a treat.

The problems are eventually resolved, and it's fun to watch Ruby process everything that's just happened to her.  She needs to know much more about this man she just met.  The TARDIS invites her inside, because the blue box clearly recognizes a kindred spirit.  No matter how many times we see that initial "it's bigger on the inside" sequence, it never gets old.

Ruby gets a final word of encouragement from a neighbor, and all we'll say about that is, will we see this woman again?

There's so much pressure riding on a new Doctor's first adventure, and Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson rise to the occasion.  The Church on Ruby Road contains many familiar elements of the past 60 years, but the episode also feels like a complete rebirth of the franchise.  It's a holiday delight and a terrific new chapter.

We are so excited to see how this journey proceeds from here.  The fun begins in spring 2024.  See you then!


Doctor Who The Church on Ruby RoadWhat's next for the Doctor and Ruby?  (pic via





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