Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Doctor Who catch-up: Rosa, Arachnids In The UK, The Tsuranga Conundrum

As is often the case, I've lagged behind in my Doctor Who reviews ( and the series has only been on for 5 weeks! Must try harder ) so here are some brief thoughts on the last three episodes...

An emotionally involving and beautifully shot, if somewhat preachy, episode, dealing with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Vinette Robinson is outstanding as Rosa, all dignity and quiet courage, while the regulars have some lovely character moments, with Bradley Walsh as the grieving widower forced into an uncomfortable role in American history, and Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole playing two modern young people seeing how hard life was under segregation for those affected. The biggest downfall is the vanilla villain, a Joey Essex-lookalike racist from the future, whose evil scheme involving bus timetables may be appropriately tasteful for the subject matter but is often quite dull.

Three And A Half Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Crumpled Bus Tickets )

Arachnids In The UK
A fun, monster-filled episode which will probably be as well-remembered by today's kids ( The One With The Giant Spiders ) as a certain Pertwee story is with my generation ( The One With The Giant Maggots ). Not breaking any new ground but a definite watch-through-the fingers story for arachnophobes with some great effects / model work, sly digs at modern US politics and, yes,
( finally! ) some back story for Yaz. ( And I didn't even do the "anoraknophobia" joke! )

Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Giant, Human-sized Cocoons )

The Tsuranga Conundrum
Not an easy title to pronounce, not an easy episode to love. The Doctor and her friends find themselves close to death but rescued by friendly aliens ( yep, we've already seen this in The Ghost Monument ) and then the story becomes a very flat, exposition-stuffed hybrid of Alien / Gremlins / Holby City. The guest cast are mostly uninteresting although we're clearly supposed to Care Deeply for them, while the cute little merchandising opportunity  alien menace is fun but not seen enough. Instead we get tons of technobabble. I mean, really, there's tons of the stuff. Every time the characters stop to chat in the middle of deadly danger yet again, I'm inwardly yelling "Get on with it!" like a Monty Python character. I really hope next week's episode can tip the balance back to engaging stories. And is it too much to ask for some proper tension and jeopardy? Is it?
I'll have to re-watch this episode to see how it stands up but, after one viewing, I'll give this story:

A disappointing Two Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers or... sorry, I've got nothing here...


pete doree said...

I gotta say ( well, I don't gotta, but you know me, never short of an opinion ) I'm fairly close to giving it up. I thought Rosa was brilliant and genuinely moving, but each episode either side of that, I've got increasingly irritated by.
I'm finding Jodie more and more annoying, the stories tedious and predictable, and though no one expects the Ice Warriors or the Sea Devils first time out: WHERE ARE THE DAMN MONSTERS??
Yes, if you're a little kid, giant spiders ( yawn ) and cutsie pootsie aliens ( triple yawn ) are new and fresh and exciting, but even if you say that, even little kids have been exposed to, say, Guardians Of The Galaxy and might expect something a bit more original.
Honestly, if it wasn't on Sunday night I probably wouldn't've made it past the first episode. It's just.... ordinary. And I think when the excitement dies down, more people will be saying that. Mind you, I said the same thing about Black Panther.
( Still like Bradders tho'! )

Kid said...

Interestingly (or maybe not), a woman friend said she watched the first three episodes, but was so disappointed with the stories and the female 'lead' that she was close to giving up on it. Maybe give it one more try, but after that, if it didn't improve, she was bailing out. I was surprised, because I though a woman would be for a female Doctor and overlook a lot that wasn't right, but apparently no. I'm glad to say I still haven't watched any - so where's my Blue Peter badge?

Steve W. said...

It's been a strange season for me. I've managed to enjoy every episode so far while simultaneously not enjoying every episode so far. I'm not sure how that works. It must be some sort of quantum thing going on.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. Although I've enjoyed the series so far ( with only the most recent episode reaching Fear Her / Curse Of The Black Spot levels of blah-ness ) I do feel it needs to be a bit bolder. As Pete says above: where are the monsters? We're promised demons and witches in upcoming stories so maybe there will be a turn towards the monstrous from now on. Let's hope so...


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