Further Thoughts and Reviews of Series 11

Posted by SonicR on December 7, 2018 at 6:50 AM

I must confess that after The Tsuranga Conundrum, I completely lost interest in Series 11. I have yet to see any subsequent episodes, and probably won’t until after the final episode has aired. Even then, it’s a maybe.

Doctor Who has had bad episodes before; The Tsuranga Conundrum is just the latest in a long line. But after every previous bad episode, I’ve kept watching, my enthusiasm by no means dampened. So what happened this time?

If I had to guess, it’s that Series 11 didn’t feel exciting. It lacked that spark of energy that made it entertaining and enjoyable to watch, and something I looked forward to every weekend. Instead, a bland, mediocre run of episodes forced me to find the motivation to watch them. I couldn’t find that motivation, and still can’t.

I’m very saddened by this eventuality. Doctor Who has been my favourite tv show since as long as I can remember having a favourite tv show, and the fact that I’ve essentially given up on it brings me no joy whatsoever. Here’s hoping that when I find my way back to it, I’ll be engrossed in it once again.

Arachnids in the UK

Possibly the most misleading title in Doctor Who’s recent history, Arachnids in the UK does indeed feature arachnids (but only spiders), and they are in the UK…but only localised in Sheffield. Spiders in Sheffield would have been a much more accurate title.

It’s taken 4 episodes, but Yaz finally has some substantial character development…for about four seconds. We spend precious little time with her family, and even when she and her mum join up with the Doctor, the four other people in the Doctor’s ensemble ensure that they don’t do much. For an episode that promised some material for Yaz, the fact that she still, somehow, remains the least developed character is very disappointing.

Also disappointing is the notable fact that Arachnids in the UK is completely missing its third act. While the spiders inside the hotel are certainly taken care of, the ones that are still at large in other areas of Sheffield are completely forgotten. What happened to them? Did the Doctor even deal with them? We don’t know, because as soon as the business in the hotel is concluded, the episode moves on. It’s honestly quite baffling – all that was needed was one or two lines explaining what happened. But we don’t even get that, and as a result, the episode’s ending feels very abrupt, and is extremely unsatisfying.

On the plus side, Arachnids is somewhat entertaining purely because it sinks to the ‘so bad it’s good’ level. I got a few good laughs out of it.


The Tsuranga Conundrum

While watching The Tsuranga Conundrum, I literally forgot that Yaz was in the episode. When she appeared for the first time since they woke up on the Tsuranga, I actually said, out loud, “Oh, right, she’s still here.” No Doctor Who episode has ever made me completely forget the existence of a companion. I sincerely hope that no Doctor Who episode ever does that again.

And this is why, despite a pretty gripping 10 minutes once the Doctor and the companions awake on the Tsuranga, the episode itself instantly became the worst of a series that has so far failed to rise above anything other than mediocrity. It’s a real shame, because the whole scene as the Doctor and Astros work out what’s heading towards the Tsuranga and starts destroy it is fantastic. The music is great, the tension is palpable. And then Astros dies, and everything falls apart from there.

The main premise is fantastic: the characters are trapped aboard a spaceship that is being eaten from the inside out. Worse still, the owners of the ship could detonate it if they find out anything is wrong. Great – so let’s see everyone working together franticly, as time runs out. Stress levels should rise as conflict erupts between people who are scared, frightened, and trying desperately not to die.

But then Ryan and Yaz grind the plot to a halt to talk about Ryan’s mum. Then the Doctor grinds the plot to a halt to explain how antimatter-matter reactions work, and a pregnant alien grinds the plot to a halt to give birth. How are we meant to feel like people are under threat if everyone stops so casually to talk about things that (at best) are incidental to the actual plot?


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Reply Tardis001
4:09 PM on December 7, 2018 
A good analysis of the problems of these two episodes, SonicR. I've also read that Jodie Whitaker is returning for Series 12.
Reply Rumpole
5:16 PM on December 7, 2018 
Very well put Sonic.

I think you would be great as a Doctor Who writer.

This series seems to have been written by seven year olds for that age group.
12:21 AM on December 8, 2018 
While I kept watching (out of habit more than interest - most episodes have been very predictable IMO), I agree with your assessment of the series to the point you stopped watching. I thought Arachnids In the UK was a simplified version of Planet of the Spiders and the best part of Arachnids was Chris Noth (from Law & Order). But in the end most of the episodes of this series to date could have stood to be about half the length - get rid of the fillers and stick with the action (main plot).

In all another excellent analysis from you Sonic.