DOCTOR WHO – S11 – EP. 6 REVIEW – DEMONS OF THE PUNJAB (2018)

DOCTOR WHO – S11 – EP. 6 REVIEW – DEMONS OF THE PUNJAB (2018)

Directed by: Jamie Childs

Written by: Vinay Patel

Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Leena Dhingra, Amita Suman, Shane Zaza, Hamza Jeetooa etc.

Produced by: Alex Mercer

Executive producer(s): Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens, Sam Hoyle

Composer: Segun Akinola

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Doctor Who Demons of the Punjab

This season of Doctor Who is now settling into a strong mix of diversity, narrative simplicity and emotional resonance. I’ve read some negative comments bemoaning the quality of the writing and weakness of the stories in general, however, as Sunday night teatime entertainment goes the show is a success in my view. Indeed, the latest episode, Demons of the Punjab was another involving and fascinating watch.

This week it was Yaz’ character which took centre stage as her curiosity about her grandmother, Umbreen, found the Doctor breaking time-travel protocol. If you’ve seen the Doctor Who episode Father’s Day and film classic Back to the Future (1985) we all know how dangerous it can be for anyone to cross their own timeline. Indeed, while the Doctor has actually crossed her own timeline before many times she should really know better!


Doctor Who India

Thus, Team TARDIS travelled back to 1947 as the Partition of India took place. Here Yaz gets to meet her own family members as her grandmother is about to marry. Of course the path of true love and time travel rarely goes smoothly and the course of history is threatened by Yaz’ presence and her and the Doctor must attempt to not interfere with events. Of course, it would not be a Doctor Who episode without some kind of alien threat and this is provided by the Vajarians; a mystical race who appear where chaos is ensuing across the universe. Their presence adds an air of mystery to the episode, but ultimately they are an emotional subplot to the main conflict relating to how the Partition of India affects Yaz’ family.

Overall, Demons of the Punjab successfully combined political, historical, romance and drama in amidst the usual science fiction concepts. It was especially strong from an emotional perspective. By the end as a family is torn apart by the situation I felt a real sadness in my heart. The division of India by the British Empire was an event which divided people based on their religion and ethnic background and created a huge schism between families, colleagues and friends. Doctor Who merely skims the surface of the impact it would have and the lives affected by the subsequent conflict. Yet, what the episode teaches us is that while we may not be able to change history we must learn from it. We must learn that division and conflict can only lead to heartache and pain.

Mark: 8.5 out of 11


6 thoughts on “DOCTOR WHO – S11 – EP. 6 REVIEW – DEMONS OF THE PUNJAB (2018)”

  1. Currently my favorite episode out of this series. Series 11 hasn’t really sold me yet, though; only thought that this one and Rosa are worthwhile. I’m liking Jodie as the Doctor, but the writing seems to be really lackluster for most of the episodes.

    1. Cool. Thanks for reading 😁
      I’m enjoying it overall. I think Jodie has a lot more to offer and the writing is fine for the stories they are telling. It’s not like it’s attempting intense drama but rather simple stories to connect with the emotions. It’s fun with good gags and has some touching scenes too. How good does the writing need to be? How would you improve it?

      1. If possible, I’d like some Hell Bent and Heaven Sent type quality :). But on a more serious note, they should really work on balancing all of the characters that there are. They often fail to give everyone something useful to do or give them a really stupid activity (e.g. Ryan not doing anything last episode, the one before where he and Graham have to help out the pregnant man, which didn’t impact the story in the slightest, Yaz being just being a background character for basically every episode except for the latest one…)

        The writers also seem to have issues with coming up with logical endings for each episode and with The Doctor’s morality. She thinks that shooting a spider and ending its life quickly is wrong, but stuffing a ton of them inside of a tiny chamber to let them suffocate and die slowly is fine? Same goes for her stance on weapons, she’s supposed to be against, but in the last episode, she was fine with the guy firing at the aliens? Also, in that spider episode, the Trump parody was way too on the nose and plain annoying rather than funny. As for endings, they’re often quite dumb; again, see the spider’s episode and the one with the tiny little alien.

        In general, the dialogue isn’t all that great either. The flow of it never feels right (probably also due to some bad delivery, mostly from Tosin Cole) and it’s way too exposition heavy. It sometimes feels like Ryan’s just there so that more exposition can be thrown at us and the show frequently treats us like we can’t figure things out on our own.

        Also, the plot conveniences. In a few episodes, they shoot themselves in the foot, like how The Doctor’s screwdriver gets destroyed, but then try to recover by suddenly having it work again

        On top of that, they really need to work out the pacing for most of the episodes; they start out fine, but suddenly start to drag and then wrap up things within a couple of minutes.

        Buuuuut those are just my two cents 🙂 I still do like quite a bit of the show; I just don’t think that it’s as great as it used to be and these are a few of the faults I have with it. There’s still room for improvement, and after all, it’s still the first season for a new writers room. They probably still have to figure things out 🙂

        Also, I’m too lazy to spell check or re-read it, so if something doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry 🙂

      2. Cool. Good notes.

        I do agree with a lot of them but it’s almost as if people want everything to be perfect when it’s a teatime Sunday evening viewing and very good entertainment from that perspective.

        Arachnids was the weakest but still entertaining; ultimately the spiders were killing people and the Doctor stopped them. I agree there is one too many companions so at times there’s certain redundancy, however the bloke giving birth resonated with Ryan’s character so I thought it worked well as emotional subplot.

        The pacing of the episodes feels similar to Capaldi’s first season which had hit and miss episodes too. I agree Heaven Sent was great but Hell Bent was just dreadful making very little sense. Just let Clara die!! 😁 I do agree though the singular episodes often close too quickly. Anyway, all formula shows are full of plot conveniences; it’s a genre convention virtually to wrap within the allotted time. But great points. You back up your arguments well.

      3. Thanks! You’re right with that it’s just Sunday evening entertainment, but for some reason I remember the show being much smarter a couple of years ago so I was expecting more from this series. I’m a bit disappointed, but also optimistic. They just have to find their footing in this series and I think that the next one will be better.

      4. It was more intricate in the plotting and sci-fi fantasy ideas and much of it worked. But sometimes Steven Moffat overcomplicated things so much they lost emotional focus. But hey it’s such a malleable show you can go different styles within the conventions. I’m quite enjoying the simplicity of this season so far 😊

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