“Side Effects”: Doctor Who Review

Well, we have our first proper look at the new Doctor, but given the size of the support cast and the number of villains, did we get enough to form our opinions?


Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Keira Knightley as Romana III / The Rani
Hazel Atherton as Sissy Roberts
Tosin Cole as Ryan
Mandip Gill as Yasmin
Bradley Walsh as Graham / The Rani
Kym Marsh as Ushas / The Rani

Written by new showrunner Chris Chibnall
Directed by Jamie Childs

Original Airdate

Side Effects originally aired on March 31, 2018.


A newly regenerated Doctor encounters a fellow Timelord who avoided being trapped in the pocket dimension along with the rest of Gallifrey.

High Point

The celery comment. I’m glad that Chris Chibnall is so clearly aware of the past history of the show, and that tribute to my favourite classic Doctor went over very well for me.

Low Point

As much as I appreciate connecting to the past, it would be nice if there was a little less retconning. I don’t mind retconning the expanded Universe, but up to this point, the reboot has worked hard to stay consistent with the past. Specifically, under spoiler guard: we know that The Doctor grew up with both the Master and the Rani, yet he was introduced to Romana when she was 125. How can the Rani be a future regeneration of Romana? That just really rubs me the wrong may and makes me worry that it’s setting a precedent.

The Review

This is somewhat original. I appreciate the fact that the Doctor’s new gender just “is,” and they don’t make a huge deal out of it. Still, going from a multi-Master story into this one is just too similar, too soon. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are as strong as they’ve been since Steven Moffat took over with his increased budget. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story feels rushed, even with the extended runtime. Introducing multiple new companions, two versions of the villain, plus giving us the required exposition dump to say why the villain is even here in the first place is just too much. They needed another 20 minuets or so. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was excellent. Jodie Whittaker may have won me over faster than any other Doctor ever has, which is impressive given how much I came to enjoy Capaldi in the role. The guest cast and new companions all nail their parts. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was mixed. The continuity issued drove me out, but there were also no less than six “stand up and cheer” moments. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production was solid. If anything, it was edited too tightly, but that’s more likely to be a result of how much they were jamming into a strict upper limit on runtime that the BBC insisted on than a lack of skill on the part of editor David Fisher. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, I’m definitely on board for the new era at this point, but I do have slight misgiving because of the disregard of previous history between these characters. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Side Effects receives 34 out of 42.

5 replies on ““Side Effects”: Doctor Who Review”

    • What kind of bull am I?

      A gullible!

      Hook, line and sinker, man.

      I announced it to a room full of kid fans, too.

      • Well, my “DVR” is a bit of a jerk about that kind of stuff — it wouldn’t be the first time it missed stuff and didn’t even show it on the schedule…

        Oh well, I guess I fell for ONE this year. But in my defense, I didn’t see this till April 2nd!

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