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Doctor Who Travels to Disney+ For a Lavish, Fun New Regeneration | TV/Streaming

Doctor Who Travels to Disney+ For a Lavish, Fun New Regeneration | TV/Streaming

It’s funny to see a show barreling so ardently towards the new when its fundamentals, right down to its writing, hearken back to the last time the show was revived. The first two episodes of New-Who (well, New New Who) feel, more than anything, like a throwback to Davies’ flashy, camp era of the series in the aughts. No more Steven Moffat mystery boxes, no more Chris Chibnall… whatever he was doing. This is old-school new-school Who, fixated just as much on formula as fun. The results are exactly what you’d expect from his era of the show: breezy, silly, and far more fixated on the emotional truth of the moment than anything resembling narrative heft.

The first episode, “Space Babies,” is as goofy as its title implies: Fresh off the last shot of the Fifteenth Doctor’s (Gatwa) inaugural adventure, “The Church on Ruby Road,” he and newfound companion Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) take their first random spin in the TARDIS, ending up on a space station occupied (and run) by, who else, babies, and their computerized Nan-E. It’s a cute visual, at least at first: The extraterrestrial toddlers wheel about in motorized strollers, performing their tasks and talking in a kind of erudite babyspeak. The mouth movements to match feel a little like you’re watching a forty-five-minute E*Trade commercial, so it wears pretty thin.

But it does precisely what Davies loves to do with these early-season episodes: Introduce the companion to the Doctor’s freewheeling life of adventure, and thus, the audience, to life in the TARDIS. Fancy wardrobes, monsters, running down corridors, the revelation that mankind reaches out to the stars in the future, and gets in a lot of trouble. 

The adventure itself is fairly naff, leaning so hard on its “babies in space” gag that it gets repetitive. (We get it, Doc, you think the phrase “space babies” is really cute.) But for new viewers, those who might not want to dive into all bajillion seasons of the show prior, it serves as low-stakes place-setting for the rhythms of the show itself, like that awkward period at the beginning of a complicated board game where the host reads all the rules. 

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