WARNING: This post contains spoilers!
My thoughts & views on Series 11;
The Woman Who Fell to Earth.
This was a regeneration story with a difference, for the first time it didn't center completely around The Doctor, this episode was told more from the companions point of view and she was (literally) dropped right in the middle of it all. This was a very cinematic episode with huge blockbuster-style action set pieces, great monsters and with plenty of laughs thrown in. I don't know how The Doctor was able to build herself a new sonic screwdriver & a transporter using parts from a car garage, but they were fun scene's. I have to applaud Jodie Whittaker though, since being announced she's received so many nasty comment's/trolling online, which would have added to the pressure. But she was brilliant and stole every scene, she has the same manic-style that David Tennant brought to the character. I hope this has silenced her critics once and for all.
The Ghost Monument.
There was no break for The Doctor & her new companions, they jumped straight from Sheffield's frying pan and into Desolation's fire. Featuring an intergalactic space race, a search for the TARDIS and brand new villain's, little bit's of rag have never looked more scary! The character's of Epzo, Angstrom & Ilin were all well written, I especially liked Art Malik's performance playing this rich, slightly arrogant man who makes people go through hell in order to win. The new TARDIS interior is a treat for the eye's, reminiscent of the Eccleston/Tennant era's, with it's darker more industrial look. I'm loving the production values on this series, each story is a self-contained mini movie, but the cliffhanger's still remain and you can't wait to see what happens next. A strong start.
Harking back to the historical early Hartnell episodes, combined with a scenario straight out of Quantum Leap. For a family show, Doctor Who has dealt with many difficult issues on screen and this wasn't the first time that racism has appeared, in Series 10 Bill encountered it in a Victorian-set episode. But this was a brutal, non-watered down portrayal and for Yaz & Ryan, you got the sense that they were constantly in threat of danger, but from humans this time, not aliens. Some incredible writing & acting from all involved and a story which showed how far we've come. The only let-down for me was the villain Krasko, the character has potential but was pretty forgettable in this, if he does return make him more central to the plot. Rosa is probably one of the most powerful & important Doctor Who stories in a long time.
Arachnids in the UK.
A more straightforward story for this one, but that didn't make the arachnids any less terrifying, resulting in a cross between The Green Death and Planet of the Spiders. It's a shame that there wasn't a reference to neither! Chris Noth's character was a deliberate parody of Donald Trump which I found funny and you could see the other cast members were having a lot of fun shooting this. The ending was too rushed though, after killing the Queen what happened to those spiders in the panic room and the one locked in that Sheffield flat. But the standout moments were those quiet scene's back at the house with Graham, whose still grieving & imagining conversations with Grace (Sharon D Clarke), great acting from Bradley Walsh who just keeps getting better. Jodie's Doctor was in full comedy mode throughout, she started to really hit her stride with this and the previous episode.
The Tsuranga Conundrum.
This mid-season adventure was more slower-paced, concentrating more on character backstory/morals rather than sci-fi action. The companions continue to take more of a central role, we still know more about them, rather than the Thirteenth Doctor at this point. My first reactions to the Pting were mixed, I didn't expect it to be so small & cute looking, like you could just pick it up and throw it off the ship. But I did start to like him by the end, I don't think we've seen the last of that little blighter. This episode sparked something of a debate amongst fans & the press who complained that the show is becoming to politically correct, this has cropped up ever since Whittaker was first announced. But if it doesn't deliberately get in the way of the storylines, then I personally don't have a problem. It's always great to see the show doing something new & exciting, it's why Doctor Who has lasted this long.
Demons of the Punjab.
A touching story which covered some more controversial topics. This put Yaz more centre-stage, I'd say she's the best out of the three companions and Mandip Gill is a great actress. It's as if Chibnall has started to realise this and has wanted to use her more, The Doctor & Yaz have started to make a great double act, which has become more evident in the last three episodes. I laughed at the Doctor's "I never did this when I was a man" line and the twist showing that the Thijarians were actually bad aliens turned good was nice. In terms of production values/cinematography this series has been in a league of it's own, with it's sweeping shots and real on-location scenes. The DW team have pulled out all the stops, to ensure the viewers are seeing the best that they can offer.
This was a nice return to the New Who episodes of old, it was funnier & entertaining more in keeping with the David Tennant era again. Writer Pete McTighe went for a safer "tried & trusted" plot for this one but that's no bad thing, with scary robots, slapstick sequences and a nice dig at Amazon too. The Kerblam Men are the closest thing to Cybermen that we're going to get this series, they were quite chilling with their smiling faces and happy voices. I liked the nod's to previous incarnations, saying that the Eleventh Doctor ordered a fez through Kerblam! at one point and it's good to see Venusian Aikido making a comeback too. Julie Hesmondhalgh put in a great guest appearance and with a fun cameo from Lee Mack, although it's a shame his character and Kira didn't get happier endings. It was a good send-up of the reported slave-like conditions you get at these kind of companies and the way that technology is taking over those jobs. One of this season's best stories.
It was a nice choice, setting this one in Pendle Hill during the witch trials and it gave us some good old-fashioned scares. It had a wonderful supporting cast too, standout's were Siobhan Finneran (Becca), Tilly Steele (Willa) and Alan Cumming was hilariously over the top as King James I. I laughed at the moment where The Doctor was accused of being a witch and then argues that if she was still "a man", then this wouldn't happen and she'd be left to just carry on with "my job". The Morax didn't have enough screen time to make a big impact and that's been a problem with the new villains this season. The story ends just as your getting to know them, bring back the two-parters and flesh the character's out more. It's a pity this episode has taken so long to be made, the main plot could have been done brilliantly in the seventies with Jon Pertwee.
It Takes You Away.
This started off as a straight-forward "Monster in the Woods" story, I was expecting to see giant alien creature's attacking a Norwegian cabin. But instead it went in a completely different direction and we ended up with antizones, killer moths & a talking frog. Jodie Whittaker has settled in comfortably to The Doctor role now, she was brilliant throughout and funny too. Bradley Walsh delivered probably his best performance yet as Graham, during his scene's with Grace and it was good to see Ryan getting more screen-time. Hanne (Ellie Wallwork) was portrayed brilliantly, she worked well with the companions and would have made a nice new addition to the TARDIS crew. I loved Ribbons (Kevin Eldon) shame he was killed off, the only character I didn't feel much sympathy for was Erik (Christian Rubeck), it's difficult for viewers to root for him after he selfishly abandoned his only daughter in Norway. A decent penultimate episode with a very atmospheric setting.
The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos.
Try saying that title when you're drunk. This wasn't your typical big season finale, it was a more low-key one off episode with no cliffhanger for the new year special. I was glad to see Tzim-Sha again, he was the only real stand-out new villain/monster this series and I'm glad they gave the character more of a chance to develop. Also, I hope that Paltraki (Mark Addy), Andinio (Phyllis Logan) & Delph (Percelle Ascott) return too, the Ux are an alien race that could be explored more in future episodes. There was a nice scene where an angry Doctor warns Graham that if he kill's Tzim-Sha, she will not allow him to travel in the TARDIS again. These intense moment's have been largely absent from this era so far, a hyper/energetic Thirteenth Doctor is great, but Jodie's even better when she's being darker. If they show more of this serious side next time, then Series 12 should be a good one.
So, did the most hotly anticipated DW season since Series 1 (2005) live up to expectations?, Did Jodie Whittaker's performance win over audiences?, and did Chris Chibnall do good as the new head writer? For me personally, the answer to all these question's is YES! I felt the second-half was better than the first, but overall it was an enjoyable, great looking series, with a strong main cast. Jodie Whittaker is The Doctor whether you like it or not....and I like it.
However, I will say that Series 11 has been a gamble that's (only just) paid off with the fans. Chibnall's experiments have divided opinion, he hasn't completely won everybody over yet and the ratings have fallen too. But we will have to wait until 2020 to see what he come's up with next.
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