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Review: 'Doctor Who walks fine line between playing it safe and drifting dangerously'

Wednesday 7th November 2018
Doctor_who_the_tsuranga_conundrum_copy

By far the most memorable thing about The Tsuranga Conundrum, last Sunday’s Doctor Who episode, was the Pting: a mysterious, deadly and adorably cute spaceship-munching critter that’s half Stitch from Lilo and Stitch and half Nibbler from Futurama.

But letting a blob of CGI with only a few minutes' screen time so thoroughly steal the show isn’t exactly to the rest of the episode’s credit.

It should have been nail-bitingly tense. After barely surviving a landmine explosion, Team Tardis were stuck on a space ambulance that was being slowly eaten around them by an unstoppable monster—with only the injured, the sick and one surviving medic for company.

But the sense of urgency never really materialised, with the larger-than-usual cast constantly finding too much time for leisurely exposition on a spaceship that never looked like it was falling apart.

After an unsettling early scene of the still-injured Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) lurching in woozy agony down corridors, most characters spent most of the episode in implausibly rude health.

A number of subplots competed for time, but none were developed enough to justify it. We heard a lot about how medic Mabli (Lois Chimimba) needed to trust herself to rise to the challenge, only for her to basically leave it to the Doctor. Still, apparently she learned something about hope in dark times.

Next Doctor Who odds

It was strange to see the vocally pacifist Doctor starstruck by General Eve Cicero (Suzanne Packer). Eve’s story of sacrifice and sibling rivalry almost worked, except for a distracting and unexplained beef between her brother Durkas (Ben Bailey-Smith) and Ronan (David Shield), her robot servant and (eww!) “consort”.

When Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) had to help pregnant man Yoss (Jack Shalloo) give birth it put a newish spin on their ongoing family drama. But it’s bad news when even the characters that showrunner Chris Chibnall is clearly most comfortable writing are treading water. As for Yaz (Mandip Gil), for all Chibnall’s apparent commitment to diversity he still doesn’t have much for the show’s one non-white female regular to do.

The Tsuranga Conundrum had a lot of ideas, and who knows—perhaps it was only a rewrite away from greatness. If it turns out to be the low-point of the season, it could have been a lot lower. But it’s a warning that for Doctor Who there’s a fine line between playing it safe and drifting dangerously.

Next Doctor Who odds

Michaela Coel 7/1
Kris Marshall 7/1
Maxine Peake 8/1
Natalie Dormer 8/1
Tom Rosenthal 10/1
David Harewood 11/1
Vicky Mcclure 12/1
Phoebe Waller-Bridge 14/1
James Norton 14/1
Tilda Swinton 16/1
Richard Rankin 16/1
Jenna Coleman 20/1
Olivia Colman 20/1
Andrew Buchan 25/1
Paterson Joseph 25/1
Ben Whishaw 33/1
James Purefoy 33/1
Maisie Williams 33/1
Robert Carlyle 33/1
Richard Ayoade 33/1
Tom Ellis 33/1
Joanne Froggatt 33/1
Richard Madden 33/1
Zawe Ashton 33/1
Lara Pulver 33/1
Suranne Jones 33/1
Amanda Mealing 33/1
Sheridan Smith 33/1
Katie Mcgrath 33/1
Rory Kinnear 40/1
Alice Eve 40/1
Catherine Tate 40/1
Daniel Kaluuya 40/1
Andy Serkis 40/1
Charlotte Rampling 40/1
Russell Tovey 40/1
Andrew Scott 40/1
Michelle Dockery 40/1
Helen Mirren 40/1
Sacha Dhawan 40/1
Alexandra Roach 40/1
Eddie Izzard 50/1
Gillian Anderson 50/1
Frank Milham 50/1
Helena Bonham Carter 50/1
Ben Daniels 50/1
Alfred Enoch 50/1
Idris Elba 50/1
James Darcy 50/1
Gemma Arterton 50/1
Sanjeev Bhaskar 50/1
Russell Brand 50/1
David Walliams 50/1
Adrian Lester 50/1
Carey Mulligan 50/1
James Corden 80/1
Stephen Fry 80/1
Benedict Cumberbatch 80/1
Domhnall Gleeson 80/1
Alan Davies 80/1
Alan Carr 100/1
Katie Hopkins 110/1
Katie Price 110/1

Next Doctor Who odds

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Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 14:39 . Odds are subject to change.
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