Reviewed by Cliff Homewood

It’s time to talk Russell T Davies again, grand ubermaster of Who.  He has a tendency to kick out stories that aren’t about what they purport to be about.  You thought this one’s about goblins?  No, his prime focus is on introducing the companion, not the monster of the week.  Think back to ‘Rose’, the last time Doctor Who was re-introduced, what are your abiding memories?  “Run!”? The Doctor experiencing his new face? “The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it.”  All character moments, the Autons are irrelevant.  How they are defeated?  The London Eye, Rose works that out not our clever Doctor.  Her abseiling across. It’s all about the Doctor and Rose, the Autons are just the handy cookie cutter monster.  You think of the Autons from ‘Rose’ what do you think of? Farting wheelie bins, a dodgy Mickey copy.  It’s not good.  I love the episode but it’s called ‘Rose’ not ‘Autons’.  This episode’s called ‘The Church on Ruby Road’, the new companion Ruby.  Found as a baby abandoned at the church.  No mention of goblins.  Now you know what to expect.  Not as good as ‘Rose’, but that was RTD fresh and new to the Doctor.  But I still found it a highly enjoyable tale. Not as embarrassing as ‘Rose’ either.

I’ve established what the story is truly about, Ruby Sunday (what an awful name, worse, her mother is called Cherry Sunday).  What a good tale it is.  I love Gremlins.  The story starts with little creatures performing bits of mischief.  Mainly causing accidents.  When you for some reason suddenly drop your plate?  A goblin did it, his little hand came out of nowhere and just toppled it without you seeing.  It felt very much like Gremlins sense of play at this stage.  Then we get a fun cameo from Davina McCall, she hosts a show called Long Lost Family.  The production team got permission to use this as Ruby is curious who here real parents are.

I’m not keen on the Doctor’s new sonic screwdriver, it doesn’t look like a screwdriver.  Makes one wonder whether Disney+ designed the prop and said use this.  Don’t want a random toy, but something that looks like its purpose, although in reality it’s able to do anything.  Following on from ‘The Giggle’ the Doctor carries on being sexy in this. We see him dancing and having a good time and showing skin.  The Doctor is shown to be fun, that’s what this show is all about.  His mere presence acts as a harbinger of doom.  Expectation.  There’s a delightful scene with a snowman and a policeman, although the Doctor seems to know everything, given a touch of the Sherlock Holmes here.

Ruby’s family is a great example of positive reinforcement, we see a minority family contributing to the community.  Really enjoyed this element and it worked well.  Although at one point I worked out what has happened before the Doctor which is not a good portrayal of a genius.  Thinking slowly to enable the slower amongst us to keep up?

Before you know it we are in a scene from Peter Pan with a baby being in a bedroom with a window open and we are chasing across rooftops as mad magical things happen, like a galleon hiding in the clouds.  Ruby has been called a foundling, the term reminding of the myth of changelings, we are playing with myths here.  Although the episode is fantasy and the science more Dr Snuggles than Dr Asimov, the Doctor uses his brain to solves things and to use magic gadgets that he’s invented.  That’s enough science for me, I like that he works things out scientifically and gives logic to the goblins actions.  The goblins look good and we have a song and dance number, because Russell T Davies has always wanted to fit one in Doctor Who, wait a minute, didn’t we have one last time (‘The Giggle’)? But this is an original composition and considering Ncuti and Millie Gibson both complained they are actors not singers they acquit themselves admirably.  There are moments where the Doctor stays quiet and doesn’t try and rescue Ruby from the situation that surprise, he is in his element but she is new to this world, perhaps he is gauging how she copes, obviously admirably, so doesn’t need an assist.

The goblins, fun bad guys, are dispensed with quickly at the end, disappearing like the unreal threat they were.  Leaving time for RTD’s real emphasis, Ruby becoming a companion.  Also adding a mysterious character in Mrs Flood, giving the fans something to talk about.  RTD has said the revealing of who she is will be a slow burn.  Played by Anita Dobson, I like the fan theory she’s Angie Watts who met the Doctor before in Dimensions in Time.  In reality, Anita had left EastEnders before that crossover.  There are more serious theories out there, that’s the point, RTD has set up that game for us to play.  Another one, she’s Adam!*  Ruby’s mum is a more realistic theory, but go of and play and I hope you enjoyed this episode of Doctor Who, I know I did.

*fan in-joke, back in 2005 everyone was purported to be Adam.