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05 January 2019 @ 04:58 pm
The Tsuranga Conundrum  
The Tsuranga Conundrum turned out to be quite a divisive episode. It was presumably aiming to be light-hearted and a little cooky (in the way Doctor Who is normally light-hearted - so a light-heartedness that still involves people dying) and approached from that angle it at least succeeds in being rather less divisive than Love and Monsters.

Unlike Arachnids in the UK which I find I like less when looking back at it, I find I like The Tsuranga Conundrum more. It has more going on than The Ghost Monument, comes to a proper conclusion at a sensible pace, and the solution is even a little bit clever (albeit somewhat telegraphed in advance). The Pting is, in many ways, a genuinely original monster concept (managing to be both cute and very dangerous and never sacrificing the one in favour of the other). By this point in series 11, the lack of a good villain to conclusively defeat was beginning to grate with a large number of fans and the Pting is almost aggressively the opposite of that so one can see how it became a lightening rod for a certain strand of criticism, but taken out of that context unless you feel that Doctor Who monsters should always be serious in some sense, then there is nothing wrong with the Pting at all. I'd definitely take it over the Slitheen any day. While they felt like escapees from Children's TV, the Pting feels to me like a much more natural denizen of the Whoniverse. The story also features some decent, understated bits of world-building. I particularly like the "prayer" at the end and the way it emphasised that this future society has its own rituals which are sufficiently universal within the particular culture that the Doctor knows them as well, just as she can quote Shakespeare and could probably recite the Lord's Prayer if the situation so required.

That's not to say the story is without flaws. I didn't particularly care about either Eve Cicero or her brother. Her death was the most obvious resolution to that story strand and I wasn't moved by it. The pregnancy storyline was OK, fit in with the light-hearted and a little cooky vibe and allowed for some nice character stuff with Ryan and Graham, but was basically irrelevant to the rest of the plot. Like the flesh-eating water that turned out not to be Chekovian in The Ghost Monument, here the Doctor is injured and limping about all over the place and this turns out to have no bearing on anything whatsoever. The info-dump about the anti-matter engine, as with most of the attempts to do "science education" in the series, seems too info-dumpy and feels out of place.

All that said, this is much more its own thing than the other "sci-fi"-ish plots in series 11. All the elements may not have quite come together and its attempts at whimsey may be a little clumsy, but on the whole it was interesting and a little different and I find myself with considerable retroactive goodwill towards it. Someday I may even rewatch and see if the memory cheats.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/538670.html.