Doctor Who: Series 11 (or 36 depending on how you count) : Episode 3: Rosa by Malorie Blackman & Chris Chibnall.

October 21, 2018 | By | Reply More

Not being able to avoid all the advanced promo on the box or newspapers, the third episode ‘Rosa’ has the Doctor and her friends arriving back on Earth, just a little earlier than they should be in 1955 and in the USA rather than the UK. They are also in Montgomery, Alabama in the Deep South and two of their number being the wrong colour are likely to be in real trouble.

A defining moment in time is when Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a crowded bus on 30th November 1955. The TARDIS, despite 19 attempts otherwise, deposits the Doctor and her friends there the day before. When the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver discovers a source of Artron energy of another time traveller, she is compelled to investigate. It goes without saying that half of her friends are potentially in danger although Yaz is thought to be Mexican than Pakistani and is treated less harshly. Even so, their presence stirs things up.

The time traveller is a released criminal from the future called Krasko (actor Josh Bowman) who has an inhibitor against being able to do violent acts but is colour prejudice and wants to change the past in minor ways so the big one even won’t happen. I would have thought this was one of those frozen moments in time that would have been impossible to change.

The Doctor and her friends do a sort of ‘Hustle’ to sort things out. From there are real spoilers. There might be now as I discuss the episode.

We haven’t seen many trips into Earth’s historical past in recent series but I’m glad they aren’t forgotten. Rather scarily, they didn’t have to go too far back to show how far we’ve come since 1955.

In some respects, I’m not even sure if Krasko is really needed as he’s not that much of a threat. The story would work just as well without him and just do a variation of ‘Quantum Leap’ with an awareness things aren’t going the way they should and making sure it does. The only thing he really contributes to is preventing Ryan and Yaz staying in the TARDIS for the whole adventure although that wouldn’t have really got in the way. Then again, I suspect they were nervous to do a story without adding some SF element to it. The friends all do things that they are good at but doesn’t really stretch them. Is Graham going to visit every bus station? I’m still wondering where they got their money from.

From a display of how 1950s prejudice was in the southern states of the USA, it clearly has a message of how bad it was back then and how far we’ve moved on. Saying that, Ryan points out that it’s not perfect today so there is a reminder of everything to date.

Vinette Robinson as Rosa Parks does a beautiful subtle performance. One can only hope that watching this episode you dislike the whites with their prejudices. Ironically, this was staged in South Africa and you do have to wonder had production contemplated filming it in the USA and thought better of it.

This is very much a change of pace for ‘Doctor Who’. I can only presume that Chris Chibnall was determined to throw as many different stories together as soon as possible and say don’t expect it to follow previous patterns. Even so, the Doctor is relying far too much on her sonic screwdriver to sort things out for her but if that’s my own criticism then that’s not too bad. You aren’t really supposed to like parts of this story but significant that this series isn’t afraid to attack some contemporary issue.

© GF Willmetts

21 October 2018

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Category: Doctor Who, TV

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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