Doctor Who Series 11: It’s Fine
In these click bait times in which we live, revealing the conclusions of an article in the headline goes against the norm but in many ways a simple blog title is the best metaphor for the 11th series of Doctor Who. What follows below the break are my thoughts on various parts of the series and why, when place in the whole, they result in my verdict of ‘It’s Fine.’
Easily the best part of the series, Jodie Whittaker has settled into the role of the 13th Doctor without a hint of growing pains or any other problems. I hope she continues for a long time to come.
For me the biggest acting risk coming into this series, has been wonderful. I was concerned bringing in a high-profile male actor as a companion for the first female doctor would result in her being overshadowed. In fact the opposite has happened. Graham O’Brien, the character Walsh has played, has been one of the best companions of New Who.
Ryan and Yaz
While their performances have been fine, I found the characters Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) and Yasmin ‘Yaz’ Khan (Mandip Gill) a little dull. Ryan had some good character moments but outside of those, his character felt just kind of there. Yaz sadly fared much worse. Gill gives a good performance and the character has a strong start, but the end of the series Yaz has become no more than a stock Doctor Who companion. Outside of Demons of the Punjab, Yaz could be switched for Martha Jones and the series would be no different.
Demons of the Punjab
Talking of Demons of the Punjab, it is the best episode of the series and one of the stand out episodes of New Who. A beautiful told tale, with across the board excellent characters and an interesting aliens. I hope the writer Vinay Patel comes back next series.
Not quite as good as Demons of the Punjab but still a very good episode as well as being historically important. Suffered from the same problem lots of New Who historical stories suffer from, unneeded aliens/villains.
The other episodes of Series 11
At one point I thought I was going to do this wrap up by ranking all the episodes but outside of the two episodes above, the series opener and It Takes You Away, the rest of the episodes were all a much of a muchness. A top ten with six entries at 4 is hardly a top ten. None of these episodes were terrible just fine, average episodes of Doctor Who.
It Takes You Away
The worst episode of Doctor Who since Love & Monsters. As I said on my Facebook:
Well that was the worse Doctor Who episode since Love & Monsters. A script written by throwing hundreds of ideas at a dates board and using the three closest to the bull’s eye. Ryan getting his character assassinated and then the doctor doubling down on the mistake all because one of the dart board ideas need Ryan to not be in a particular place (calling it a story is unfair on the medium). The Doctor using bed time stories to work out what was happening (like using The Three Little Pigs to solve a murder case) and embarrassing special effects. The frog puppet was on par with the cats from Survival – the last Doctor Who story in 1989!
The only thing that stops it being worse than Love & Monsters is It Takes You Away isn’t activity offensive as the father at least acknowledges what he did wrong, even if he is left unpunished for the torture he committed on his daughter.
The Writing in General
Almost every story this series, apart from Demons of the Punjab and Rosa, felt they needed an extra draft. Many stories had a story element too many (The Witchfinders); plot points unresolved (Arachnids in Sheffield) or needed a dialogue polish. Rarely did the dialogue sing off the screen, although Jodie came the closest to making it happen.
The Fridging of Grace
The biggest issue with Series 11 was the Fridging of Grace in first episode of the season. Grace (Sharon D Clarke) is the latest in a long line of guest characters who would make excellent companions so it was sad when she died. The bigger issue however, is that she died so her Ryan and Graham – her grandson and partner respectively – could come together. This is a classic Fridging and a big low to start the series on. In many ways the series never got past it, and whenever Grace was mentioned in future stories, it was only to further Ryan and Graham’s journey/relationship.