Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum

Aka Doctor Who and the Space Gremlin or Doctor Who: Call the Midwife!

A bit of a Red Dwarf-ish episode without the jokes and a very Doctor-centric episode which gave the rest of the cast very little to do. Yas gets particularly short change as a character but does get a heroic moment. Graham gets the best jokes. Whittaker gets to try out a bit of the cranky/overbearing aspects of the Doctor’s characters for a little why (until admonished).

A big plus for the monster of the week, which I won’t describe in too much detail for those who haven’t seen the episode. So far this season is getting the balance between its ambitions and its actual capacity to deliver visually just right. Last week’s CGI spiders were convincing enough not to accidentally fall into the comical and this week’s CGI critter had its own charm.

Unfortunately, most of the supporting cast were a bit forgettable. The side-story about the pregnancy was mainly played for laughs without being particularly funny but also segued into the missing-dad aspect of Ryan’s character.

Another fine but not particularly classic episode that rests of Whittaker’s performance.

11 thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum

  1. I thought it was a pretty fair, if lightweight, base-under-siege type of episode. It did have a touch of the Babylon Fives about it, for me, in that someone clearly though that some good CGI eye candy (the monster, the exterior shots of the ship) would distract from a set of interiors that were basically just fibreglass panels. But then I decided I liked the way they’d handled things like the lighting – the way the General’s eye was lit to look weird when she was wearing her monocle-thingy, for instance. Good lighting makes a hell of a lot of difference – it was, after all, responsible for such good points as the original Star Trek interiors had….

    I don’t know why the beastie couldn’t digest the sonic screwdriver, though. After all, it’s not Gallifreyan or TARDIS material, it’s just some bits the Doctor knocked together in a Sheffield workshop. Now, I know Sheffield steel has a good reputation, but I didn’t realize it was *that* tough.


  2. That said, the idea of Chris Chibnall writing about pregnancy bothers me, considering how badly he handled the subject in Torchwood ten years ago, where a female character became the subject of an SFnal rapidly developing miracle pregnancy and the whole thing was played for laughs, even though the woman had essentially been raped and her body appropriated.

    Maybe he has gotten a clue since then, and to be fair, I don’t even remember if Chibnall actually wrote the Torchwood episode in question, but he was showrunner at the time and therefore responsible.

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  3. I thought the production design and costuming for this one were superb. Particularly costuming with endless detail in most of the supporting characters. The lights on the hands of the guest cast medical staff were a great touch that, at a glance at least, seem practical. Less so the lights on their heels 🙂 And things like the jewelry and tattoo on Mabli were very eye-catching as well.

    I also liked that pretty much all the guest cast got story arcs of their own as well, even the short-lived Astos.

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  4. If that episode had appeared in the middle of a normal run – i.e. not a debut season – I’d have been very happy with it. As it is, I feel a bit antsy at getting a standard bottle episode so early. If I try to put that aside: it was fun, the alien was a cool little idea, plenty of character work, so why am I a little anxious?

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    1. It seems odd to call it a “bottle” episode – aren’t they usually ones with very few, if not zero, “supporting” characters? This one had almost too many, although I agree with Lindsay Taylor that they did at least get vaguely real backstories.


      1. Fair point, it’s a bottle episode in the sense of limited sets etc, but the use of plenty of guest characters elevates it quite a bit. I think well-realised side characters have been a bit of a theme this season, and Chibnal probably deserves more credit for that.

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  5. I liked it. Sometimes a whole planet doesn’t need to be in danger, sometimes the Doctor just needs to save herself, the companions, and a few others, with some light slapstick.

    The critter was ugly-cute (I foresee toys), and once again, the Doctor THOUGHT her way to a rescue that didn’t involve killing it. I expect the planetary authorities will quietly take it out as a menace to shipping, not to mention indirectly causing a slightly earlier death for the General. But it got a good feed first.

    If the kid’s not named Avocado, what will he be called?

    Graham didn’t annoy me this week; I don’t know what to do with that! Will he ever get a fist bump from Ryan?

    Yas is quite a good friend, just quietly hearing out Ryan’s story. Plus her superb Ptang drop kick.

    “Ptang” is a Python word, I’m sure.

    We didn’t watch this till Tuesday night as we were afraid to watch election returns.

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