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Who Review: Kerblam!

By Mark Laherty

It’s an old joke in the Doctor Who fandom that every season of the revived series has that one episode we don’t talk about. Maybe it’s the one with the Absorboloff or the one where the monsters were made out of sleep-eye-dust. But, as divisive as those episodes are, none of them went to bat for Amazon. It is with some sadness that I must file my first ‘this sucked’ Who Review.

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Who Review: Demons of the Punjab

By Mark Laherty

Last Sunday saw Who return to historical form. Demons of the Punjab, written by Vinay Patel, brings the TARDIS team to the Punjab in 1947 because Yaz is anxious to learn more about her grandmother’s past. But, as you may know, the Punjab in 1947 is a dangerous place to be. The Partition of India is on the verge of tearing apart the whole country and Yaz’s family. What’s more, she discovers her past-grandmother on the eve of marriage to a man Yaz has never even heard of before. Also: aliens.

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Who Review: The Tsuranga Conundrum

By Mark Laherty

Doctor Who has a tradition of ‘base under siege’ stories. Even keeping it to Modern Who, many will recall that weird David Tennant one where they literally meet the Devil or the Capaldi one with the ghosts. It boils down to the Doctor and their companion(s) semi-accidentally getting stuck in a base with a cast of new, one-off characters and some alien threat. Tensions rise between everyone as they try to find a way out of the mess.

And so it is with ‘Tsuranga Conundrum.’ The gang end up stranded without the TARDIS on a hospital-spaceship with a strange and deadly intruder on board: the Pting, a cute but nasty little CGI buddy. So, with the hospital crew and patients in tow, they must figure out what the Pting is, what it wants, and how to stop it.

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Who Review: Arachnids in the UK

By Mark Laherty

Chris Chibnall goes to work one morning. He has to pitch the fourth episode to the producers. “What if, uhhh,” he says, “spiders? Like, what if we just did spiders? It’s been a while since spiders.”

So: spiders. More specifically, the Doctor finally coaxes the TARDIS into bringing her friends back home but discovers that something spooky is afoot with the local eight-legged population. Why have they all converged on a hotel? And why is there a Trump-alike character swanning about?

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Who Review: Rosa

By Mark Laherty

Content warning: discussion of racism in 1950s segregation-era USA.

Over the last nearly-55 years, Doctor Who has been a bit antsy around the topic of racism, unless you count the instances where it was the perpetrator.

In a Series 10 episode, ‘Thin Ice,’ there was a notable instance where a black companion, Bill Potts, visited Regency-era London and was immediately nervous. Wouldn’t she be kidnapped and sold into slavery or something, she wondered. The Doctor didn’t really have an answer. Later, he socks a racist in the face. This story was a careful step in the right direction, but it felt wanting. There still wasn’t any substantial discussion, either in dialogue or narrative, of racial issues.

Well, not anymore! Get ready to be very uncomfortable.

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Who Review: The Ghost Monument

By Mark Laherty

Having firmly established our new gang last week, Doctor Who ploughs ahead to give them their first alien planet. A slapdash teleportation device accidentally lands the Doctor and her new friends Graham, Ryan, and Yaz on Desolation, a dangerous desert planet with three suns (very Star Wars). Their search for the missing TARDIS quickly embroils them in a race across the landscape against two other space travellers. Along the way, they find that Desolation hides some dark secrets.

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Who Review: ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’

By Mark Laherty

(Spoiler warning: this review will discuss the basic premise of the episode without giving away the ending. If you want to go in completely blind, come back here later. Or don’t. I’m not your dad.)

In the last 55 years, Doctor Who has been many things to many people. It’s perceived by many as a tangle of lore you may find exciting or alienating. But, for tonight, we can relax. Doctor Who is, for a moment, nothing more than what it’s meant to be: a good sci-fi TV show.

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