“That’s my face?”
“You seem a bit flexible on the idea.”
“You have no idea.”
The Pilot does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.
It is effectively a soft jumping-on point very much aimed at a back-to-basics approach to Doctor Who. It is an episode that is not particularly ambitious or original, but instead serves to lay out the groundwork for the season ahead. Like so many episodes introducing new companions, it uses the companion in question as a window into the world of the Doctor and as an opportunity to effectively redefine the show. Given the overlap between Amy and Clara with Asylum of the Daleks, this is arguably the cleanest such introduction since The Eleventh Hour.
It has been almost two years since the last full season of Doctor Who. There is every possibility that The Pilot could be a young fan’s introduction to the series. By that measure, The Pilot is reasonably successful. It runs through a fairly solid checklist of things that a reintroduction to Doctor Who should do. It introduces a new status quo. It features a simple villain that is driven by an intriguing high concept. It hints at a nice long-form mystery. It establishes a sense of character and identity for the new companion.
The result is an episode that feels more like a springboard and a mission statement than a strong episode in its own right, a reminder of what to expect from Doctor Who served as something of a warm-up lap.