The Gallifrey Times team reviews Demons of the Punjab

This week, the TARDIS team head back to the Punjab, India, in 1947, to meet Yaz’s gran and uncover some of her mysterious secrets. But what did our team make of Demons of the Punjab? Let’s find out…

Spoiler Warning

Ben

Just three episodes after Rosa, we have another historical that deals with struggles in a different country. Whilst I love a good historical, it’s perhaps a bit too much for to have two similar stories in one series.

This episode finally promised to put Yaz centre stage and develop her character a little more. Whilst she may not have a story arc – like Ryan’s family issues or Graham’s grief – the character certainly gets to shine in this episode. There’s some great acting from Mandip Gill and it looks like Yaz is finally growing into a . more rounded character.  Sadly that means Graham and Ryan are now the ones relegated to standing around asking obvious questions and making one-line remarks.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is really coming into her own. I don’t think she’s had that defining moment yet, but she’s definitely established herself as a good Doctor. In this episode she has some great moments, funny lines and another nice speech to round it off. Whilst she’s still a little too reliant on the sonic, that is actually dealt with in the story, with her making some tech from scratch, which is always fun.

But it’s Graham who is still my favourite character. He gets not one but two emotionally powerful speeches (telling Yaz to “live this moment” and telling Prem that “All we can strive to be is good men”). I continue to be impressed by Bradley Walsh’s acting and I love the chemistry between him and Jodie’s Doctor.

Once again the aliens aren’t the real threat – somewhat of a recurring theme this series – but the twist is built up really well. Watching for the first time, I didn’t see it coming. After the revelation though, that does kind of make them a bit redundant. All they do is mourn the dead, so if you take them away, the story would play out exactly the same, thus becoming more of a period drama and less a sci-fi show.

Manesh and Prem are two very interesting characters. Manesh starts off as an innocent young man, who you think is just naïve and jealous of his brother, but when he’s revealed to be the villain, he has quite a sinister edge, which is played really well. Prem is a likeable character who makes us feel sympathetic and genuinely moved by his death. The stand-off scene between the two brothers is brilliantly executed and well paced. The shot of the sunlight blocking out the pulling of the trigger in particular is a gem.

As usual, the episode looks stunning, helped by one of Segun Akinola’s best efforts. The Indian music really helps you feel immersed in the culture and the Indian arrangement of the theme is just beautiful.

I’ve got to be honest, when I started writing this review, I was expecting it to be quite negative. The episode didn’t really excite me or feel like a strong episode, but there was a lot to like in it. I just hope we get back to a more sci-fi feel next week. Perhaps we’ll finally see more than a handful of people, or meet a villain who doesn’t turn out to be good or just wander off at the end of the episode with no punishment.

Suzanne

Demons of the Punjab is an interesting episode, because we finally get a more in depth story that requires a second level reading. This is what I enjoyed most, and you can read all my analysis here.

Now, on a first level reading, sadly there are still many flaws that were pointed out in previous reviews.

The music is very present, a bit too much at times, and doesn’t always work with what happens on screen. Then, there is the Doctor waving her sonic around and over using it. This was really bothering, as it disrupts the viewing experience. Sadly, this goes with the way Jodie over acts the part of the Doctor. I’m still seeing an attempt to become a female Tennant… While in the previous incarnations, I didn’t see the actor but saw the Doctor instead, all I can see here is an actress trying to play the Doctor. Mind you, I’m seriously liking Krystal Moore’s version of the Doctor better!

I was also seriously worried that Doctor Who would turn into Class when I heard the aliens story, but luckily, it served a better plot, and this is what I liked about the episode: the way every bits of stories, including the intervention of the aliens, works together and becomes a solid and balanced story, despite the fact that once again, we get a skeleton cast, with no crowd. But I guess this is becoming Chibnall’s trademark for S11.

Louis LG

I was looking forward to Demons of the Punjab. Finally, an episode that would explore more into the Doctor’s friend Yaz. Although, it doesn’t actually explore much into her character as much as I hoped.

This episode thought is a vast improvement from the week before – the pacing was much better and the location filming was particularly beautiful. I personally liked the story and enjoyed who and what the “monsters” were. So far in this series this episode and Rosa have stood out the most to me both are historic episodes and concentrate on big points of history.

Back to Yaz her development stays put. As does for Ryan and, as with as the week before, I feel no remorse and find them quite boring all in all. Graham, on the other hand, gets fantastic lines and speeches, Walsh delivers hard in this episode when he gets his moments. Whittaker’s Doctor still hasn’t landed it for me. We are six weeks into series 11 and I’m wondering when she will land it for me personally. There is some staggered acting by the guest cast and they come off as quite annoying at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode, as I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know about the partition, so the show is still doing one of its jobs that it set out to do right from the start, way back in the 60s. The next episode looks intriguing, but for the rest of the series I will keep my hopes very low, so I can hopefully be pleasantly surprised.