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On Location at the ‘Doctor Who: The Devil’s Chord’ Premiere Event

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Disney kicked off the latest season of Doctor Who in extravagant style on Wednesday night with a red carpet premiere in the heart of Hollywood. Starring Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson as the 15th Doctor and his latest companion, Ruby Sunday, the revamped series debuts today on Disney+. 

Hosted at NeueHouse Hollywood, the screening was preceded by a small Doctor Who costume exhibition and followed by a cosmic after-party. Strangely, the episode shown was not the first episode of the new season – we watched episode two, “The Devil’s Chord”, instead of the premiere episode, “Space Babies.”

[Warning: some mild spoilers for Doctor Who: The Devil’s Chord below!]

Ncuti Gatway as the 15th Doctor, Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday, and Jinkx Monsoon as Maestro

Firstly, I must confess that I’m not a Doctor Who fan. I’ve seen a few episodes about a decade ago, but it’s never captured my interest despite its huge fanbase. I was looking forward to seeing the new season since I loved Ncuti Gatwa’s small role in Barbie and I did enjoy some of the Doctor Who episodes I’ve seen in the past!

The new season seems to be typical Whovian fare, at least from an outsider’s perspective. The Doctor and his companion engage in some time travel hijinks and defeat some bad guys along the way. I love the interior design of the TARDIS this season. It’s very disco-like and fits perfectly with Gatwa’s personality. 

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in the new Tardis
Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC/Disney+)

Speaking of which, Ncuti Gatwa as the 15th Doctor is a performance I’m still wrapping my head around. He’s not quite what I expected. There are a few moments of high-energy silliness which he shines in, but the switch between humor and darkness felt off to me. The overall tone of Doctor Who isn’t something that appeals to me, but knowing that I watched the second episode of a season makes me wonder if the first episode eases new viewers into this world more naturally than “The Devil’s Chord”. 

Millie Gibson has some hilarious moments as Ruby Sunday and is a surprisingly incredible piano player, but much like the Doctor, it’s hard to get a real read on her character from a single episode. Her backstory, which was explored in the Christmas special episode “The Church on Ruby Road”, seems like it will continue to factor into this season. 

Jinkx Monsoon plays the villain of this episode and perhaps even the season at large: Maestro, a music-obsessed demon who kills people by stealing the unsung songs inside their hearts. While the concept fits perfectly into the Doctor Who universe, Monsoon’s performance fell on a flat note for me.

Maestro does have the extravagant, campy edge one would expect from a drag queen who’s the first two-time winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, the character brought the episode to the edge of parody at many points, making it feel more like an SNL sketch than a quality episode of sci-fi television. Monsoon has one or two good line deliveries, but for the most part, Maestro’s depiction is neither amusing nor dramatic enough to encourage me to watch more of this season. 

Attending the Doctor Who premiere event for episode 2, “The Devil’s Chord”

The Doctor Who premiere was an expertly on-brand event. NeueHouse Hollywood is an exclusive club, located next to a Paramount office off the Sunset Strip, and served as a unique venue to host a premiere. It’s a much cozier and more intimate setting than simply a large movie theater. 

That being said, NeueHouse doesn’t appear to be built for screenings, despite the large stage space dominating the center of the building. I was seated on the upper balcony where wooden benches with cushions lined concrete steps, while plastic chairs dominated the main floor. The balcony seating area was nicely put together with flair like end tables and flowers, but the audio was surprisingly poor. The screen itself seemed small from so high up and the audio wasn’t designed to immerse audience members sitting on the balcony, resulting in sound that couldn’t quite fill the cavernous space. 

Everything else about the event was top-notch. The lighting was beautiful, lending a gorgeous blue-purple color scheme to the evening. The small costume exhibition on the ground floor of the building was a nice surprise, showcasing three costumes each from “The Devil’s Chord” and “The Church on Ruby Road”.

Costumes from Church on Ruby Road and The Devil's Chord
Doctor Who costumes on display at the premiere (Photos by Uday Kataria)

There were plenty of photo opportunities, beginning with the blue carpet and extending to unique “photo booths” at the after-party. Guests leaving the after-party early were even encouraged to take photos on the carpet at the end of the night, right before it was taken down. The after-party itself was hosted on the NeueHouse terrace, complete with bespoke Doctor Who decorations. 

The attention to detail was outstanding. During the screening, popcorn was served in little TARDIS boxes and accompanied by custom Doctor Who napkins. The bars at the after-party were emblazoned with etched, metallic Doctor Who logos, while a video of the TARDIS hurtling through space was projected onto the side of NeueHouse Hollywood. 

Doctor Who afterparty for The Devil's Chord premiere
The TARDIS projection at the Doctor Who “The Devil’s Chord” premiere after-party (Photo by Uday Kataria)

A life-size TARDIS replica was present in one corner, operated by a few workers and seemingly operating as a regular photo booth. There were more photo opportunities in the costume exhibition and at the very entrance to the after-party, where a small backdrop and lights were set up. Although stars Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson attended the screening accompanied by showrunner Russell T. Davies and Disney Entertainment co-chair Dana Walden, none of them were present at the after-party. Understandably so, since there were many Doctor Who fans in attendance who would have killed for the chance to meet the 15th Doctor! 

Photo booths at the Doctor Who The Devil's Chord premiere after-party
Photo opportunities at the Doctor Who season 1 episode 2 “The Devil’s Chord” premiere after-party (Photos by Uday Kataria)

Final thoughts on the special premiere of Doctor Who episode “The Devil’s Chord”

Although the new series hasn’t turned me into a Whovian, attending the premiere of this new Doctor Who episode was a wonderful experience. The event was constructed with care, and fans of the series seemed to greatly enjoy the new episode. Hopefully, the rest of Ncuti Gatwa’s first season is similarly adored!

Doctor Who season 1 premieres on Disney+ today with its first two episodes, “Space Babies” and “The Devil’s Chord”.

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Uday Kataria

Hi! I'm a huge Marvel, DC, and LEGO fan. I run my own YouTube channel (GoldenNinja3000) and write/host podcasts for The Cosmic Circus. I also created and produced the LEGO Ninjago short film "Golden Hour".

Uday Kataria has 77 posts and counting. See all posts by Uday Kataria