It seems like only yesterday that series 11 of Doctor Who began, but here we are, ten weeks later, with the series finale! The finale is being written by Chibnall, who has delivered scripts of various quality throughout his run on Doctor Who, and especially this season. The only episode, solely written by him, that I’ve really loved this season was The Woman Who Fell to Earth. The rest of the episodes have had some fundamental problem that has impacted my enjoyment of them. Thankfully, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos falls into the same category as The Woman Who Fell to Earth and is an excellent close to this series of Doctor Who. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Episode 1110: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs) On the planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos lie the remains of a brutal battlefield. But as the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) answer nine separate distress calls, they discover the planet holds far more secrets.
Who is the mysterious commander with no memory? What lies beyond the mists? Who or what are the Ux? The answers will lead the Doctor and her friends towards a deadly reckoning.
Well, this episode is probably my favorite of the entire season so far. Penultimate episodes of seasons have a lot to try and set up: they’ve gotta lay the groundwork for the finale while also still providing the audience with an interesting and captivating story. This is exactly what It Takes You Away does; it pays off some of the character arcs that have been developed over the season while still giving us a really cracking story. It’s a perfect blend of creepy, weird, and genuinely emotional and I just adored every second of it. (Spoilers ahead!)
Episode 1109: It Takes You Away (written by Ed Hime and directed by Jamie Childs)
On the edge of a Norwegian fjord in the present day, the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?
Honestly, this episode should have been broadcast closer to Halloween because it would have been so perfect as a Halloween episode. Doctor Who has had an interesting relationship with witches and magic over the years. It tends to take the stance of magic being misunderstood science and any “witches” either being persecuted women or an actual alien threat. The Witchfinders, written by new-to-Who writer Joy Wilkinson, is no exception to this rule. Much of the episode is spent with King James I (Alan Cumming) and landowner Becka Savage (Siobhan Finneran) going around the village of Bilehurst Cragg accusing various people of being witches only for the episode to eventually reveal that an alien intelligence is responsible for things all along. That being said, the episode is still a whole lot of fun.
Episode 1108: The Witchfinders (written by Joy Wilkinson, directed by Sallie Aprahamian)
The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz arrive in 17th century Lancashire and become embroiled in a witch trial, run by the local landowner. As fear stalks the land, the arrival of King James I only serves to intensify the witch hunt. But is there something even more dangerous at work? Can the Doctor and friends keep the people of Bilehurst Cragg safe from all the forces that are massing in the land?
Sometimes a simple, cool sci-fi idea is the best way to go for an episode of Doctor Who. After six episodes without a nice, solid sci-fi premise, Kerblam! finally gives us one with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) investigating a futuristic Amazon-like company on a moon. It’s a pretty solid, enjoyable episode with a small cast of supporting characters who are all well developed and interesting and a resolution that actually sticks the landing. (This review will contain spoilers!)
Episode 1107 – Kerblam! (written by Pete McTighe and directed by Jennifer Perrott)
“‘Delivery for the Doctor!’ A mysterious message arrives in a package addressed to the Doctor, leading her, Graham, Yaz and Ryan to investigate the warehouse moon orbiting Kandoka, and the home of the galaxy’s largest retailer: Kerblam!”
We’re past the halfway mark of series 11 of Doctor Who. We’ve had adventures in the present, the future, the past, the present (again), the future (again), and now it’s time for another historical episode. This time, we go back in time to 1947 India where Yaz (Mandip Gill) is seeking some information about some of her grandmother’s secrets.
Epiode 1106: Demons of the Punjab (written by Vinay Patel and directed by Jamie Childs) India, 1947. The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab, as India is being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land. Who are they, and what do they want?
With every new season of Doctor Who comes a new set of tie-in novels featuring the current Doctor. As season 11, the first season to feature Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, just recently premiered, it’s time for the tie-in books to be released. The first of these, The Good Doctor, was released October 26 and was written by the New-to-Who author, Juno Dawson. It’s a novel that explores the impact the Doctor’s visits can have on a world and how religions might spring forth from them. It’s a pretty darn good book.
For a Good Doctor there’s only one rule: first do no harm.
On the planet of Lobos, the Doctor halts a violent war between the native Loba and human colonists. Job done, the TARDIS crew departs – only for Ryan to discover he’s left his phone behind. Again.
Upon returning, the Doctor finds that the TARDIS has slipped hundreds of years into the future – and that something has gone badly wrong. The Loba are now slaves, serving human zealots who worship a godlike figure known as The Good Doctor.
It’s time for the Doctor to face up to the consequences of her last visit. With Lobos on the brink of catastrophe, will she be able to make things right?
Doctor Who is a big fan of the base-under-siege story and it’s a format that generally works for the show. Trap all of your characters in one location and have them being hunted by a monster. It’s a pretty easy way at building tension and it often leads to a lot of interesting character moments as the main cast and the guest cast try to deal with whatever the threat is. The Tsuranga Conundrum is one such story. The major problem is that the monster terrorizing said base-under-siege isn’t particularly threatening. (Spoilers for The Tsuranga Conundrum)
Episode 1105: The Tsuranga Conundrum (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jennifer Perrott) Injured and stranded in the wilds of a far-flung galaxy, the Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan must band together with a group of strangers to survive against one of the universe’s most deadly – and unusual – creatures.
“Spiders! Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies’?” – Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling) Doctor Who has featured stories about spiders before, but none quite as disturbing as the ones in this episode. Perhaps it’s because the last story that properly featured giant spiders had a hilariously tiny budget and so the giant spiders were clearly made of rubber, but good sweet Lord, the spiders in this episode are actually terrifying to behold and I hate them. It’s a relatively good episode, though. (Spoilers follow)
Episode 1104: Arachnids in the UK (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Sallie Aprahamian)
‘Something’s happening with the spiders in this city.’ The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) find their way back to Yorkshire – and Yaz’s family – only to find something is stirring amidst the eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield.
Every new Doctor has to have a story set in the present day, a story set in the future/on an alien planet, and a story set in the past to start off their first season. We’ve had the present day story and we’ve had the futuristic/alien planet story, so it was time for our first trip into the past with this new TARDIS team. And where does the TARDIS end up taking our plucky heroes? None other than Montgomery Alabama, 1955. The day before Rosa Parks’ famous bus protest. Obviously, this is a rather touchy story for Doctor Who to try and tackle, so the biggest question is whether or not the show handled it well. In short: it absolutely did. (NOTE: There will be full spoilers ahead, so read with caution.)
Episode 1103: Rosa (written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai)
Montgomery, Alabama. 1955. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her friends find themselves in the Deep South of America. As they encounter a seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson), they begin to wonder whether someone is attempting to change history.
It’s the first episode of the Thirteenth Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) run. It’s the first episode of Chris Chibnall, the new showrunner’s, era. It’s the first episode to feature new companions Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole). It’s the first episode featuring Segun Akinola, the new composer for the show. To say there’s a lot riding on this new episode would be an understatement. The big question is: does it deliver on all it sets out to? Does it work as a jumping on point for new viewers and a continuation of the show beloved by millions? How’s Jodie Whittaker’s performance as the first female Doctor? How’s Chris Chibnall’s first episode fully crafted by him (and not overseen by a separate showrunner)? Is it a good episode of TV? The short answer to that final question is: yes. (NOTE: There will be spoilers within this review!)
Episode 1101: The Woman Who Fell to Earth (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jaime Childs) “We don’t get aliens in Sheffield.” In a South Yorkshire city, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan and Graham O’Brien are about to have their lives changed forever as a mysterious woman, unable to remember her own name, falls from the night sky. Can they believe a word she says? And can she help solve the strange events taking place across the city?
Guest starring Sharon D. Clarke, Johnny Dixon and Samuel Oatley.