According to the Doctor, the TARDIS team have been busy since Ryan, Yaz and Graham bid farewell to Sheffield. They’ve been to all kinds of worlds, but this is the first pit stop deemed worthy of our attention. From a waste disposal planet (picking up on one of last week’s themes), to the flying ambulance Tsuranga, the design work continues to impress. But was this a story worth 51 minutes of our time?
We learnt that the Doctor has a geekish fondness for the anti-matter drive. To her it is brilliant conceptually and actually. The same cannot be said of this episode, for while the concepts behind it have terrific potential the execution doesn’t do them justice.
The fault is not that of actors, who all put in a good shift. It’s just that there isn’t enough in the script for us to feel much empathy with their characters. The tone of the piece was uneven, there was some truly cringe-inducing dialogue, and there was far too much telling than showing going on, leaving the Pting somewhat underused. The humour was presumably meant to provide some relief from the gravitas of the situation, but it ended up making the whole thing feel rather silly.
That said, the episode did throw up some interesting questions especially when it comes to the Doctor herself.
Paul Driscoll is a freelance writer and author across a range of subjects from Cult TV to religion and social policy. He is a passionate Doctor Who fan and January 2017 will see the publication of his first extended study of the series (based on Toby Whithouse's series six episode, The God Complex) in the critically acclaimed Black Archive range by Obverse Books. He is a regular writer for the fan site Doctor Who Worldwide and has contributed several essays to Watching Books' You and Who range. Recently he has branched out into fiction writing, with two short stories in the charity Doctor Who anthology Seasons of War (Chinbeard Books). Paul's work will also feature in the forthcoming Iris Wildthyme collection (A Clockwork Iris, Obverse Books) and Chinbeard Books' collection of drabbles, A Time Lord for Change.