This week, the TARDIS team wind up aboard the Tsuranga and face danger from a mysterious little creature roaming the ship. But what did our team make of The Tsuranga Conundrum? Let’s find out…
The Tsuranga Conundrum. Sounds exciting! What was the conundrum? How to survive on a ship under attack. Oh. So pretty much a generic Doctor Who story then? The Krop Tor Conundrum. The Midnight Shuttle Conundrum. The Orient Express Conundrum. Anyway, I digress.
The episode starts off at a very quick pace. After less than 2 minutes on an alien planet, the Doctor and co are rescued by the Tsuranga ship. Although we get a brief mention of an off-screen adventure, I do find myself missing the pre-titles sequence and the first few minutes where the Doctor and companion would spend a bit of time having fun on an alien planet, where we’d get to see some beautiful landscapes and interesting aliens. When it was announced that the episodes would be 50 minutes long, I thought that we would at least get a bit more time exploring alien worlds, but as I’ve mentioned before, Chibnall seems to want us to see as little of the universe and its people as possible.
On board, the quick pace continues as the Doctor stumbles around the ship, to the point where I seemingly missed when the threat arrived. One minute it was introductions, the next they were panicking. However, unlike previous episodes, the threat is very real. Both the Pting and the on-board bomb ramp up the tension and provide some good drama that has been missing a little this series.
Following the theme of ridiculously named villains, the aforementioned Pting is… actually quite enjoyable to watch. A small creature going off instinct that doesn’t talk is a nice change – even if it is yet another humanoid shaped alien, I mean come on, everything in the universe has two arms, two legs and the same facial features as us?! My mother even thought it was quite cute and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for it as it was flushed out into space.
We also have the pregnant man. Although I’m still not sure why he was in the story or what he really added, I have to admit he was a fun character. These scenes allowed Graham and Ryan to bond further and give us a little more insight into Ryan’s past. And of course, the avocado scene is an instant classic.
Jodie Whittaker is quickly establishing herself as an excellent Doctor, with some great scenes in this episode. Claiming she is the “Doctor of medicine, science, engineering, candy floss, LEGO, philosophy, music, problems, people and hope” is a nice moment that beautifully sums up the Doctor. Once again Yaz is just kind of there. I really hope she gets a chance to shine in the next episode, which seems to centre around her character, and we finally get a well rounded team.
This episode is a strange one for me. It looks stunning, there’s some funny moments, we get a nice science lesson on anti-matter, there’s a decent villain… and yet, I felt a little underwhelmed by it. It’s not often I find myself picking my phone up during an episode, but this week I just wasn’t that excited. I fear this is a running trend with Chris Chibnall’s episodes – great ideas that don’t reach their full potential. It was a pretty bold move writing (or co-writing) the first five episodes in the series, as we only have the one style of writing to judge the series on, rather than the usual mix of styles that comes with different writers. Hopefully things will get a little better starting next week, as we have a host of new writers giving us their take on Who.
Having a great episode title doesn’t necessarily means that the episode is going to be great, and sadly we got the proof with The Tsuranga Cunundrum.
At first, it looked really promising: a proper science-fiction universe, unknown, full of dangers, with beautiful concept arts (the waste planet, the ship in space, etc.). In fact, the settings and graphic arts are probably the best thing about this otherwise very disappointing episode.
The script is mainly to blame here. Science-fiction is not some clichés that you put together to make a story.
Let me point out a few things that really didn’t work for me:
– after the gang wakes up in the hospital, the Doctor is still in a bad shape, while her companions made an excellent recovery. She makes a big thing about being in pain, and I can’t really see the point here. Alright, she was closer to the bomb, but still, she is a Time Lady who experienced a lot worse (being blasted by Daleks or Cybermen comes to mind), and the way she behaved here made me wish for her to regenerate on the spot. It was too much, too theatrical, and at some point, I just wished for 13 to become 14.
– once Astos makes it clear that he is in charge, it is also clear to the audience that he has to go so the Doctor can take charge. No surprise here, this is exactly what happened. While it would have been very interesting to have two leading characters (plus a third being the general), we get instead: the Doctor taking charge and everybody else being either too scared, too weak or too android to stand up to her.
– ‘Is the future going to be all girl?’ asked the Master in The Doctor Falls. So it would seem, since all key characters from this episode are women, while men become the weak link: one is an android, one is about to give birth, one is an engineering living in his sister’s shadow, and one is blown away. By the way, what was the point of having that pregnant man in the story? It serves no purpose other than adding more cliché (because of course, he has to give birth at the most critical moment).
– while the alien was quite fun, he reminded me of another creature (and someone helped me remember: one of Jumba’s escaped experiments in Lilo & Stitch), so no real originality here. But what really annoyed me is the Doctor trying to scan the creature and pointing the sonic as close to it as possible. Hello there? After spending five episodes waving the sonic like a madwoman, now she has to be super close to get readings? Especially when it’s an alien devouring every piece of technology and metal it can find! Did it come as a surprise that it ate the sonic? Of course not. The real surprise would have been if it hadn’t.
So, basically, an empty script just as empty as the ship in that episode. Some reviewers already pointed out that there was no crowd in the news series, that it was very minimalistic in terms of characters presence. I may have a theory about that. I think that Chris Chibnall doesn’t know how to deal with many characters at a time. At the beginning of The Tsuranga Conundrum, the Doctor’s companions seem to vanish in a corridor, and it feels a bit odd. They were all together one minute, and all of a sudden, it’s just the Doctor and the ship’s crew. Where did the companions go? What did they do? It’s a bit of a blur, and it looks like one other hole in the story.
Once again, I was very disappointed by the episode, but I’m looking forward to next week’s episode, especially since it’s not written by Chris Chibnall!
I was really looking forward to this episode, it looked futuristic and a very exciting episode. Generally, after watching it I feel a bit disappointed because it didn’t really live up to its expectations and I felt that it had a lot more potential.
I really liked the beginning, and it was nice to see the Doctor and her friends actually getting hurt from their adventures (which nicely tied to last week’s conclusion that it was going to be dangerous.) However, I wasn’t keen on the name “sonic mine”, for me sonic suggests something really loud, but it didn’t seem that loud.
When the Doctor woke up, I enjoyed that she was confused and disoriented so she couldn’t figure out what was going on. It was also a nice way to introduce all the characters, even though I felt that Yoss didn’t really need to be there.
Even though I liked Astos as a character, his death felt a bit underwhelming, I’m not sure exactly why but it was a bit predictable. And then we discovered the Pting…
Apart from being “cute” and having a funny name, there was nothing unique about it, which is unfortunate as the majority of Doctor Who’s episode are unique. I felt they really missed the potential of having a microbial infection or something similar as the problem, especially on a Hospital ship.
I really appreciated the anti-matter drive, having real science in Doctor Who makes it so much better for me. Although it could’ve been more involved in the story as the Doctor made such a fuss over it but it only acted as an engine. Oh and the pentagonal number 51 was cool.
Eve Cicero and co, were interesting characters, although again her death didn’t spark much emotion in me (compared to the spider and Grace), it was predictable. However the part at the end was a nice touch.
To conclude, it was a disappointing episode, especially with the Pting. But I disagree that it was an awful episode, I enjoyed the first half and the Pting didn’t make the episode all bad.
For me this series hasn’t brought out the best of aliens and with The Tsunaga Conundrum it didn’t pull it out the bag with the Pting. From the get go it slowly, progressively gets less interesting and wasting a guest star by killing them off straight away.
With Jodie’s doctor there is slow development and now halfway through the series she hasn’t landed it for me personally. We get many great moments from Graham throughout the episode but with Yaz and Ryan feels a lot like forced character development when she asks about his mother. It’s hard to feel sorry for Ryan when they are on a spaceship with the crazy frog, a pregnant man with the ship in great peril about to crash. The brother and sister relationship between Eve and Durkas is not expanded enough and I feel no remorse for them whatsoever when she eventually dies in the end.
There are many unnecessary characters throughout the episode and it is an example of yet another episode throughout its history since 2005 that have wasted guest stars.
As usual I can definitely admire the FX, props, costume and set design as it has massively improved this series and despite not liking the Pting the CGI is throughly impressive for such a small creature and a lovely subtle reference seeing all the classic monsters on the ships screen when finally showing the Pting.
All in all mediocre episode and hasn’t stood out to me in anyway I look forward to the next upcoming episodes and I cross my fingers for better unforced character development and seeing Jodie’s doctor in a more critical situation!