Television review: “Doctor Who – The Tsuranga Conundrum” (Episode 5, Season 11)
Produced by: Chris Chibnall
Featuring: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill
The Doctor: “Its a hospital”
This weeks episode “The Tsuranga Conundrum” marks the halfway point into this eleventh season of “Doctor Who” (1963 – present) which has seen, I believe, some very good episodes, not absolutely great ones but some decent ones that have highlighted the new Doctor as well as her friends as they all get to know each other, as well as letting the audience in on these new relationships. While, as I have stated before, this is the biggest change to the series since it was returned to air in 2005 there does seem to be some critics who want the series to return to some earlier incarnation, I am almost sure this is based around gender, although there has not been a loud outcry, I believe the gender bias has been coded.
The strength of not only this season but all of the entire series rests with one element, the person playing ‘The Doctor’, how well they do it, their originally and their general acceptance by the audience. After five episodes I believe that Jodie Whittaker was an excellent choice, I hope she stays on for a few years, as to me she grasps what the role is, how to play it and how to interact with all those around her. The other two elements are the regular companions that accompany ‘The Doctor’ as well as the producers that feed the stories through each week, who decide how the narrative of each episode operates and how they may feed into some overarching narrative.
What is different from previous seasons especially as the show moved from Christopher Eccleston to each subsequent actor these overarching narratives got more and more complex to the point that it was difficult to have a stand alone episode, but when they did occur they were all normally better than the episodes that contributed to season long narratives and plots. What is lacking with this new season is really some episodes with some real meaning as well as grit, something to really hold on to as well as maybe offering some kind of antagonist that lends the show some weight giving audiences a real taste of the past with an eye on the present.
With all that said this week sees another episode that while very entertaining, much like the previous four, is quite light on depth that does half way through the season pose a little issue for me, as I do think that stand alone stories do tend to ring a little hollow. With all the choice that people have to view stories there does need to be something to bring people back week after week, not cliffhangers but a link that would be ended by the last episode. What is strange is that Chris Chibnall has been a master of this after his work on “Broadchurch” (2013-2017), interweaving many different plots over four long seasons, it seems he would be able to do something similar here, maybe on season two. In the shows defense this is a settling in period for all involved so it may be a matter of learning to walk before one can run, in which case I support the slow and steady approach.
This weeks episode then is another monster of the week although once again the antagonist is not really bad or evil, just a little hungry, and coincidentally enough does eat flesh just machinery, so putting our heroes in more of a sideways story. Set in an ambulance of sorts our crew are split in half so that.a few tasks must be completed to win the day. What was most disappointing about this episode was that it involved delivering a baby under pressure which is about as trope laden as you can expect, with a twist of sorts straight from “The Young Ones” where Vivian (a boy) gets pregnant. This entire ‘B’ story helps to address one of heroes abandonment issues as well as the ongoing pressure of Bradley Walsh’s character to fit in with his step Grandson, the only saving grace of this tired element being that Walsh is the comic relief doing a wonderful job.
Speaking of course of the biggest change in the casting of Jodie Whittaker, how is she going after four episodes? Well I think the answer is very well, she seems to understand the randomness as well as the whimsy of the character as well as how to deliver her lines, should we have expected anything less of someone who has skill and time in her profession? Probably not, however she does have something that many of the great ‘Doctors’ have, that is that ability to project true emotion in the understanding of what is important to the main character.
I watch “Doctor Who” on a 4K television and the step up in effects, especially the CGI is noticeable, especially this week with some CGI spiders of varying sizes all looking very good, not how some effects have looked previously which is a welcome relief as time and money has been invested to make them look as good as possible.
All in all though I am very much enjoying these new episodes quite a bit, it is a big step up from last season, with stand alone episodes being a very good decision to get audiences used to some very big changes, I am looking forward to what is to come.
“Doctor Who – The Tsuranga Conundrum”
Written: Chris Chibnall
Directed: Jennifer Perrott
While scavenging on an alien junkyard planet, Team TARDIS are injured when Graham unearths a sonic mine. When they regain consciousness, they find themselves onboard the Tsuranga, a medical ship crossing space to reach a ‘resus’ spacestation. But within minutes of their arrival, the ship comes under siege from the P’Ting, a creature that causes havoc by eating the Tsuranga’s power source. While Graham and Ryan are called to the side of a male patient who’s about to give birth, the Doctor and Yaz rally the ship’s patients to stop the P’Ting – but their victory comes at a cost.