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(Review) Doctor Who: "Space Babies" and "The Devil's Chord"

It's finally here!  The first full season of Doctor Who featuring the 15th Doctor and new companion Ruby Sunday has arrived!  Not only that, it starts with a double-feature!  Hold on, we're going to need a minute to regain our composure. 

This is the start of a new era for the Doctor.  The Time Lord who seemed plagued by PTSD relating to the Time War has retired to work on self-healing.  The latest incarnation is determined to seek out the joy in life, and his new companion appears to be a terrific match.  (However, there is clearly much more to her story than meets the eye.)  The duo got off to a promising start in The Church on Ruby Road last Christmas.  Let's see what happens next...

Warning:  Spoilers ahead.

"Space Babies"

We kick off the season with a story written by showrunner Russell T. Davies (RTD) that picks up right where "The Church on Ruby Road" left off.  Ruby Sunday enters the TARDIS for the first time, and nothing will ever be the same again.  (We can't get enough of the gorgeous and spacious new TARDIS interior.  It's mesmerizing.)  Right from the start, returning composer Murray Gold establishes a soundtrack of joy and excitement.

The beginning of the episode is an introduction for new fans.  There's a quick recap of the show basics (i.e. the Doctor's name, where he's from, and the story of the blue box.)  It's clear that the 15th Doctor has no problem expressing his emotions and being silly at times, but that sadness still pops up in quick glimpses here and there.  Still, he revels in his freedom, while Ruby seems to take to all of this change with remarkable speed.

The visuals are still breathtaking.  The show is making great use of its expanded budget.

The Doctor and Ruby land on a space station that is run by a crew of babies.  You don't see that often.  The cuteness of these kids is out of control.  (How long did all of these scenes took to film?)   RTD doesn't miss the opportunity to work in some commentary about politicians who promote forced birth and then walk away from the result, refugees, and also a strong message that no one grows up wrong, which seems meant for transgender kids. 

This is the second straight adventure the Doctor and Ruby have had involving babies, and much like our two leads, these children were abandoned.  We don't know what it all means, but it's no coincidence.  Identifying Ruby's parents is set up as a long-term quest for this season.

There's also a monster on the ship, who is both scary and gross.  Like, really gross.  However, everyone deserves a chance to exist.

By the time this episode ends, the Doctor and Ruby feel like longtime mates.  There are also already several similarities between Ruby and Rose Tyler.  One can only hope that Ruby won't meet the same end.

That leaves us with one last question:  Why is it snowing in the TARDIS?

"Space Babies" starts out on the simple and silly side.  However, by the time it's done, the new fans have been brought up to speed on the basics, and the rest of us can see that this is a new path for the Time Lord.  It's a rebirth of sorts, which is remarkable some 60+ years after the show's debut.

Doctor Who Space BabiesThe Doctor and Ruby already seem like they've been friends for years.  (pic via


"The Devil's Chord"

The second episode in our double feature (also written by Russell T. Davies) introduces us to Maestro, played by Jinkx Monsoon.  There's been a lot of speculation about her background.  All we'll say is that Monsoon immediately makes the personification of music immediately feel threatening on a universal level.  She also winks at the camera a couple of times.  Apparently this tap on "the fourth wall" is now allowed in the Whoniverse as part of the weirdness introduced by the Toymaker in the anniversary episodes.  (Speaking of which, where is Mrs. Flood?)

The Doctor and Ruby decide to travel back to 1963 to see the Beatles record their first album.  The pair pull off an amazing look to fit in with the times,  but things don't go as planned, thanks to Maestro's interference.  The Doctor shows Ruby that the consequences of a world without music are dire.  There are several musical numbers, which is apparently also now part of this canvas.  Works for us.  If you're going to shake things up, lean into it.

One of the more surprising turns in this story is that the 15th Doctor acknowledges that his first incarnation (we don't want to get into an argument about "the Timeless Child/Fugitive Doctor lives right now) is also in London at the same time in 1963, along with his granddaughter Susan.  Apparently we'll also be getting into the Doctor's own family history more in the weeks ahead.

This being an episode about music, you know the Doctor is going to pull out a guitar at some point.  He hasn't lost his chops, but it turns out he also plays at least one other instrument.  Hey, when you live to be this long, you pick up things.

We're given more mysterious clues about Ruby's birth, and then the Doctor and Ruby deal with the Maestro.  It seems unlikely that this is the last we'll see of Jinkx Monsoon, but it's also clear that another threat is coming.

The episode concludes with another song and dance number which we can describe in one word:  Joyful.  (We're sensing a theme here.)



This new era is off to a terrific start on all fronts.  The writing is engaging, Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson work well together and have already found their characters,  and the visuals and music are entertaining as hell.  We still recognize the Doctor, but at the same time, the slate has largely been wiped clean so he can start a new path.  We can't wait to see where he and Ruby go next. 

(Judging by the looks of things, their next stop is the Steven Moffat-written story, "Boom.")

See you next week!


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