Doctor Who: ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’ – a review

Certainly not the worst episode, but by no means a good one. The Tsuranga Conundrum is average at best.

 

There are a lot of great moments, it’s just unfortunate they’re just buried under a lot of nothingness.

I am somewhat lost on how to talk about The Tsuranga Conundrum. It’s just not a very interesting episode at heart. Not bad, but really difficult to talk about in length.

But that’s not going to stop me from trying!

 

Let’s start with the good, and in fairness, it’s not like there’s nothing to talk about. For instance, Whittaker was once again amazing as the Doctor. I know this is something I’ve been saying every week, but it is worth mentioning every time. Even though the random speech about hope was a bit off, she still stole the show. And, strange as it may sound, at least Doctor Who saved the day this time.

Additionally, the direction this week was stellar. The opening panning shot on the junk planet was stellar. And everything on board the Tsuranga ship itself stellar – especially with how the lighting starts as really white and clean, as the ship works fine. And as chaos ensues, the whites became more muted greys, and the lighting gets highlighted by deeper reds and yellows. It is some really great stuff. And I really did like the set-design for the ship. Really well-made stuff, if a tad generic looking. But hey, they had a better TARDIS control room than the actual TARDIS!

Also, I just love the monster this week. I think the P’ting is amazing. I don’t know if it’s unintentionally hilarious or just hilarious, but I giggled every time it appeared on screen. It was great, and I got major Stitch vibes from it. Anyone else get that? Or just me?

I really loved the bit when Yasmin had to bag the P’ting and kick it away. It was one of those moments that was very clearly done the way it was to save on the CG budget but was just so charming and rubbish and just the right level of Doctor Who. A moment that wouldn’t have been out of place in the classics.

But yeah, that’s about it in terms of positives. Because everything else is just a bit… meh.

Not bad, just meh.

Meh…

I still think 3 companions makes for far too crowded a TARDIS crew. Ryan is the only one who gets a chance to do anything, and even then, his arc was quite rushed and indelicately done. Yasmin has been regulated to just being there again. And Graham is here, asking all the questions for Doctor Who to answer.

Exposition is just as clunky as ever. Scenes will just stop so that the Doctor can explain everything that’s going on, and it just kills the pacing. The worst offender is when the engine room is introduced; the Doctor spends a few minutes just explaining how it works, and just like the episode stops dead. It does seem to be a recurring problem with Chibnall Who, and don’t get me wrong, exposition is important, but not like this.

Similarly, the world building for the alien side of things is just as weak. P’tings aside, the Tsuranga and everyone on it, despite being very well-designed, still feels a bit too human. We constantly get told about the world beyond the ship, but we never actually interact with it.

The Tsuranga Conundrum isn’t bad, but I feel like I can’t really talk about it without just going “s’alright”.  And I haven’t decided if that’s worse or not. At least it makes for a mercifully short review this week.

On the bright side, I am very much looking forward to next week’s Demons of the Punjab. It’s a very interesting historical setting that Doctor Who’s never done before, (bar one of the David Tennant novels). And if Rosa was anything to go by, then this might be the era of Doctor Who where the historical episodes really shine.