Doctor Who - Episode 11.05 - The Tsuranga Conundrum - Review
This week had the Doctor and her friends stranded on a spaceship with an alien destroying the ship. That's classic Doctor Who! Even though the plot was welcome, there are a lot of little things that added up to make "The Tsuranga Conundrum" a mostly forgettable episode.
I liked the episode for the most part. The Doctor running down spaceship corridors fixing problems is what I signed up for! It is just the execution that didn't sit right with me.
Let me start with my biggest issue - the TARDIS. I love the little scenes in the TARDIS. I love the landing and the crew coming out to explore where they've landed. We've spent hardly any time in the new TARDIS at all. In fact, it feels like Chibnall is purposely writing it out time and time again. I don't get it. I get that the plot demanded that the TARDIS not be there, but you can't really do that every single time. It was missing in episode 1, the plot of episode 2 was to find it, episode 3 it was written that it had to be ignored or the villain could get a hold of it, and episode 4 it was finally used the way it should. Now this. The Doctor shouldn't use the TARDIS to escape. She should want to stay to solve problems and help people. It shouldn't be because she can't get to her TARDIS.
My other issue was the energy bit. The Pting was adorable, and a great new alien. It needed energy for sustenance. So far, perfectly fine. But The Doctor was hurt. In the past, when the Doctor was injured, she was able to summon up a bit of regeneration energy to heal herself. If she could feed a little bit of that to the Pting, that thing would never have to eat again. It would be completely satisfied. Not much of a story if that happens, but they could have at least found some sci-fi reason as to why she couldn't do it. Address it, don't ignore it.
Other than that, it was perfectly enjoyable. Chibnall is much better at characters than he is at plot. It is by a very large margin. The characters they encountered were complex, and interesting. The male pregnancy thing making Ryan deal with the issues he had with his father was beautiful. Graham offering the point of view of a sick person to the loved one was poignant too. Yaz bonding with Ryan even further was nice. That is where Chibnall really shines. It is almost as if he should be co-showrunner with someone else. Let Chibnall do the strong character work, and match it with a strong story.
This is the closest thing this season that has felt like Doctor Who of the past. It feels like any Doctor could have had this in their episode run. The way the Pting was dealt with was adorable, and he is now going to take a huge space nap after a nice meal. I like a lot of the new aliens we are encountering this season. The supporting cast was strong, and the interactions were a ton of fun. There were a lot of positives to this episode.
We are halfway through the season now, and I have a much better grasp on what the Chibnall era will feel like. With that being said, he is the sole writer of 4 out of the last 5 episodes. The other episode, "Rosa" he has a co-writing credit on. That means the next 4 episodes should be new writers, with Chibnall presumably doing the finale. It'll be nice to see more from someone else.
Next episode, we get more on Yaz which is good. Most of the character development has been for Ryan and Graham. I love both of them, so that's nice, but Yaz feels under developed compared to them. Almost like Ryan and Graham are only doing one season, and Yaz will continue so they know they have more time....
Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC One and BBC America.