Category Archives: Reviews

The Witchfinders: a collision of irrelevances

If I’ve given the impression of not having enjoyed this series of Doctor Who very much, that’s not too far wrong. Here we are now, after eight of the ten episodes, and time is fast running out for it to pull a rabbit out of the hat. There may yet be a rabbit. But if there is, The Witchfinders is not it.

And the most frustrating thing is that it fails in exactly the same ways as all the other episodes this year. Continue reading

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Kerblam!: yes, but what does it all mean?

Another nearly-but-not-quite episode this week. I feel like we’re edging closer to a really good story without quite having got there yet. A novel setting, an interesting mystery, and some fine moments. But nagging concerns about the resolution of the mystery, about the supporting cast, about the Doctor herself, and about what the whole episode was actually telling us.

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Demons of the Punjab: close, but no sonic screwdriver

There’s a lot to like about this one. But, paradoxically, the strengths of the episode have the side-effect of laying bare its weaknesses. It all leaves me still struggling to summon up the level of enthusiasm I feel I ought to have for Doctor Who. That’s not a good feeling, half way through the series.

Set at the moment of the Partition of India — which I knew shamefully little about — Demons of the Punjab takes on the Hindu/Muslim divide head on, by having an inter-religion marriage taking place the day after the line is drawn. To make things worse, the younger brother of the Hindu man who is about to marry a Muslim wife is a zealot who wants the new border to be as hard as possible. Continue reading

The Tsuranga Conundrum: as you were

When this series of Doctor Who started, the big hook was a female Doctor. Was it just stunt casting? Would it explore genuinely new territory? Would she actually be any good? And I think people’s hopes and fears about that blinded the world to the much bigger challenge the show was facing: Chris Chibnall’s writing.

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Arachnids in the UK: treading water

OK, so a slightly clever title, though only people fifty years old will get what it’s punning on. A decent set-up, exploiting one of the most widespread phobias. A truly nasty bad-guy, who is clearly Donald Trump despite the transparent distraction-references to Trump. There’s plenty of potential here.

Ah, but so much of this either doesn’t make sense or just fails to engage.

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Rosa: now we’re getting somewhere!

As always, I’ve been avoiding reviews until I’ve got my own thoughts down, but I know from last week that a lot of people were looking ahead to Rosa with some trepidation. Elizabeth Sandifer, for example, wrote “And really? Rosa Parks? I have… concerns”. And Gavin Burrow trumped that with “Judging by their previous attempts at historicals, and the patronising nonsense most people seem to have swallowed about Civil Rights, it’s going to be trite and noxious simultaneously.”

Well, I thought it was very good. At least, by far the best episode of the new season so far.

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The Ghost Monument: brief thoughts

I’m not particularly planning to blog my way through this whole series of Doctor Who, but you never know. (I didn’t intend to do it with series 5, either, but I ended up doing all of series 5-8 and the specials, and that turned into a whole book.) So: what did I think of The Ghost Monument?

Eh, it was OK.

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