I will always try and find the positives in something, and I’m always willing to give something a chance. I have had a few comments saying that I have been harsh on Chris Chibnall, but I honestly feel that I have been fair and as always, I want the best for Doctor Who and I do not want to be in a position where I have to criticise it. But sadly, this week can not be defended, because Chris Chibnall has delivered what I believe to be one of the worst episodes the show has ever seen, I was genuinely embarrassed to be a fan of the show once the end credits began, and I was relieved I didn’t have to watch this drivel with somebody else, because I would have been cringing.
I honestly don’t really know where to start with this one, but I’ll give it a go. I’ve given praise for the use of the TARDIS team over the last couple of weeks, but this episode seems to have taken this improving dynamic and chucked it in the bin. The entire team (including The Doctor) suffered this week. Everyone felt like a spare part and didn’t really serve a purpose in the story, to the point that Graham and Ryan were left to help a pregnant man give birth because there was literally nothing else for them to do… *sigh*
Also, let’s talk about the pregnant man. What purpose did he serve? Was he meant to be comic relief, was he meant to be some kind of deep message about single fathers and the downsides of putting children up for adoption? I honestly don’t have a clue, and whatever he was meant to be, it failed miserably. He was nothing more than an annoying guest character, he wasn’t funny and he wasn’t interesting. The rest of the guest characters were pretty bland as well, Chibnall seemed to be trying to give them all side plots which simply don’t work when you have a 50-minute runtime, I honestly didn’t care about any of them and the death at the end had zero emotional impact on me as a viewer.
The villain was laughable, and not in a good way. The Pting looked like the result of a drunken night between the Crazy Frog and Stitch, and the tone was all wrong. We have a cute creature, but it’s being described as extremely dangerous and threatening… If they had played it for laughs a bit more and acknowledged the fact that this deadly creature didn’t look deadly whatsoever, I might have accepted it a bit more. The other frustrating thing is how out of place it looked, the CGI was extremely poor and just doesn’t fit a show which is trying to look more like a big budget production. I can only imagine the Pting was designed for the purpose of merchandise sales because I think this entire story could have been a lot better if the ship was being stalked by a terrifying, practical creature. The episode tries to build tension and an atmosphere around the Pting, but you take one look at it and you simply don’t take it seriously. I welcomed the notion of no returning monsters when Chibnall announced it before the series began, if this is what we’re going to get going forward, please, bring back the classics quickly!
This was also, I felt, Jodie Whittaker’s weakest performance as The Doctor. But I don’t blame her, I blame the awful writing. Yet again, it feels like Chris Chibnall has a long checklist of Doctor Who cliches that he has to ensure he crams into each episode, almost desperately trying to prove that he *gets* Doctor Who… It simply does not work, a few of them are fine and are to be expected in the episodes, but the vast quantity of tropes he is including is now on the verge of being borderline fan-fiction, and not good fan-fiction. The result? The Doctor almost felt like a parody of The Doctor in this episode, akin to how Captain Jack Sparrow felt like a parody of himself in the latest POTC installment last year. I like Jodie Whittaker, I really do, but I feel like she’s being let down and this episode certainly robbed her of any individuality her character may possess. Instead, it felt like she was almost serving as a “best bits” montage of her predecessors.
As for the story itself, it was incredibly weak and it felt like Chibnall was trying to tell multiple stories at once, resulting in an overall disjointed mess that left me not caring about any plot point, because they were all executed so poorly.
I’ve been criticized for my harshness towards Chibnall, and I’m sure I will be again. But quite simply, he is proving to be the problem here. I do not want to dislike his work, I want to enjoy it; this is the passionate fan in me coming out, because viewing numbers are dwindling a bit and the story quality is going down. It is no coincidence the best episode this series had the least input from Chibnall, I truly do fear for the future of the show if this continues.
Many years ago, Chibnall was on a panel that was criticising the quality of 80’s Doctor Who, which I now find to be extremely ironic… Because I would watch any Classic Who episode over this week’s horror-show. Mr Chibnall needs to up his game, and quickly. I hope this was just a blip, and I appreciate all eras of Doctor Who have their shockers… But I’ve never felt so frustrated and angry at the quality of an episode.
I’m sure many will disagree with this review, they’ll feel I’m being overly critical and unnecessarily harsh, but I am a passionate Doctor Who fan and this is not what I wanted to see, I really, really didn’t like this at all. I have been fair and honest in all my reviews so far, and I will continue to be. I have always tried to find the positives, but for me, there were no positives this week, and trust me, I tried very hard to find them. This is of course, just my humble, angry opinion. If you enjoyed it, then power to you!
The only reason it’s getting any kind of score at all is because I’ve just thought of a positive, it had a decent set design!
See you all next week.
I give The Tsuranga Conundrum a 2.5/10.