Doctor Who “Space Babies” Review

    We’re finally here! Doctor Who has returned to our screens. On May 11th, Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson’s adventures in the TARDIS began. The new series started with Episode One: “Space Babies” in typical Doctor Who weirdness; this involves babies on a space station. It sounds just like this franchise, to be honest. Here is our Doctor Who “Space Babies” Review. Spoiler warning!

    It’s important to remember that this is a double feature—two episodes of Doctor Who have aired. “Space Babies” is number one, while Episode Two is actually Doctor Who: The Devil’s Chord”. So, once you have read this review, watch out for our review for the second episode. I guarantee you we will discuss Jinkx Monsoon’s appearance as Maestro. But anyway, back to The Space Babies. This first episode is written by Showrunner Russell T Davies and directed by Julie Anne Robinson.

    Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday & Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor in Doctor Who: Space Babies (via BBC Press Office)

    Ruby’s First Trip

    In a surprise little twist, the episode opens up right after “The Church on Ruby Road”. With the comic strips through Doctor Who Magazine, and the Doctor Who treat at Free Comic Book Day, I assumed we would’ve jumped straight into the episode. I’m honestly very glad that we didn’t, because all the proper companion introduction stuff was handled beautifully. The way the Doctor properly introduced himself, talked about Gallifrey, being the last of the Time Lords after the genocide in Series 12. It really sold me on Ncuti as the Doctor, he played it beautifully.

    The Doctor also name drops a bunch of other Time Lord characters from throughout the series. This includes the Rani (Kate O’Mara), a character we’ve not heard of since the 80s. I was very taken aback by this, especially given the rights were up in the air for a good few years. This mention makes it seem like a return could be on the cards down the track. It’d be nice to have a Time Lord villain who’s not The Master, who it should be noted was suspiciously absent from this list.

    Ruby’s first trip is 150 million years in the past, to what would eventually become Green River, Wyoming, USA. This is where the dinosaurs from the trailer are, with the show really boasting the increased budget. Ruby also steps on a butterfly and turns into a lizard person, some outstanding prosthetic work for such a short scene. It’s a short scene for how much emphasis it got in promotional material, but it’s a cute short trip.

    Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who: Space Babies (via BBC Press Office)

    The Space Station

    Taking Ruby into the future, the Doctor lands at a space station orbiting planet Pacifico del Rio. It’s a baby farm, a place used for growing babies to increase the population. Even by Doctor Who‘s crazy standards, this is a pretty out-there concept for an episode. There’s something off about the station, from the child drawings on most of the walls, the power failures, and the monster living below deck. Now there’s a setup for a very untraditional ‘base under siege’ story, which is kind of what most of this episode is.

    After stopping and admiring the scenery, the Doctor powers up Ruby’s phone to make a phone call to 2023. She phones her mother Carla (Michelle Greenidge), where only 10 minutes have passed since Ruby ran out the door. It’s a sweet moment, echoing the phone call that Rose (Billie Piper) makes in “The End of the World”. While Rose and Ruby are two very different characters, it’s nice to see that some experiences with the Doctor are universal.

    It’s here that the Doctor and Ruby run into the titular Space Babies. They’re vaguely overgrown, talking babies. It’s such a crazy idea, but something about them in this episode just works. I particularly enjoyed the Doctor’s little speech to them about how they weren’t born wrong, that their uniqueness is their superpower. If this is the sort of moral messaging that the series is delivering, we’re in for a treat. It’s powerful, affirming, and in this climate it feels necessary.

    Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday and Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor in Doctor Who: Space Babies (via BBC Press Office)

    Space Babies and the Bogeyman

    The Babies are taking care of the station themselves. The little mechanisms they’ve made to press buttons look like repurposed baby toys. Set design choices for the Baby HQ are adorable. It’s like a space station with a distinctly childish touch. They’re taken care of by Nan-E, mechanically having their noses blown. I found watching that very uncomfortable. Such a gross decision, that unfortunately plays into the episode’s plot in a significant way.

    Shortly after, the Doctor and Ruby are pulled into a storage closet by Nan-E, who reveals herself as Jocelyn (Golda Rosheuvel). The baby farm couldn’t be turned off, but the government didn’t care about the babies once they were born. It’s some amazing commentary on reproductive rights, something I wish was in more than one scene. Seeing the crew resign in protest was powerful, and was a very nice surprise inclusion of mysterious recurring actress Susan Twist as Gina Scalzi. I really do wonder who she is at this point, popping up everywhere.

    The Doctor and Ruby run out of the closet pretty quickly though, when one of the babies runs below deck to take care of the Bogeyman. From here on, the rest of the episode below deck feels like it’s taking cues from Aliens. It was a very welcome departure from the silliness. Although it’s back at it soon enough with some almost-swearing with the Nanny filter, and the Bogeyman being revealed as a snot monster, which the Doctor saves from getting thrown out an airlock. It’s a weirdly emotional finale, which is immediately outdone by the Doctor using methane to propel the space station.

    Golda Rosheuvel as Jocelyn in Doctor Who: Space Babies (via BBC Press Office)

    Back Home

    The episode ends with the Doctor and Ruby heading back to Christmas 2023. I can’t shake the thought that this series was supposed to start much earlier in the year. The TARDIS lands in Ruby’s flat, taking out a good chunk of the kitchen ceiling. I’m glad that the companion’s family feel like a part of the show again. The second we meet back up with Carla and Cherry, it really feels like we know these people.

    Ruby runs straight out the TARDIS, embracing them in a pretty touching scene. After the crazy adventures she’s just had in the past and in the far future, it feels earned. The Doctor however is less keen to run out of the TARDIS, running a DNA scan on Ruby Sunday. It doesn’t look like it picks up anything too unusual, with the Doctor eventually coming out after stalling for so long. Although, as soon as he’s out, it starts snowing in the TARDIS.

    This snow seems to be following Ruby, and I assume that we will eventually return to Ruby Road back in 2004. There’s clearly something very off with Ruby’s existence. Memory’s are changing, like Ruby’s mother now pointing at the Doctor. The snow is also seemingly an echo of that time and place, Ruby seems very linked to it. I’m not sure what to make of it now, what it means, or where it’s going. But if this snow keeps up, it’ll be a very nice, very physical motif through the season. Looks like we’re in for a treat!

    Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday and Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor in Doctor Who: Space Babies (via BBC Press Office)


    I hope you enjoyed our Doctor Who “Space Babies” Review. The episode was very silly on the surface, filled with childlike wonder. A literal Bogeyman, moving the space station with methane. The whole thing was absurd. Perhaps too much silliness, but an enjoyable space romp. There were serious moments about people being unique, some reproductive rights commentary. I wish the episode leaned more into those, but it was probably still enough to annoy conservatives, and I still had a good time with it.

    All in all, an interesting and mostly pretty strong series opener. A goofy adventure with some gorgeous moments between the Doctor and Ruby. I’m completely sold on them as the Doctor and Companion. The story arc they’re setting up with Ruby is intriguing. It’s not at all obvious what’s going on, and it’s just the right amount of intriguing. Definitely interested in where this season’s going after such a strong start!

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