Doctor Who: Series 11 (or 36 depending on how you count): Episode 5: The Tsuranga Conundrum by Chris Chibnall.

I’m beginning to wonder when Chris Chibnall is going to let any of his team of writers do a story solo, let alone a joint credit with half the season gone.

Anyway, this time we have another purely Science Fiction tale. Be careful, as there maybe spoilers. Looking through some space junk, the Doctor and her friends detonate a sonic mine and wake up on a medical transport.

The Doctor is taking the longest time to recover and its chief medic Astos has to explain that their spacecraft is on automatic pilot to Rhesus One and any tampering will be seen as sabotage and they will destroy it than risk contamination. On top of his, a small hungry alien called a P’Ting gets on board and has an appetite for any non-organic matter. The rest you’ll have to watch. There’s a lot that is still spoiler.

In many risks, the above is more or less the framework. Into this mix, we have quick vignettes of all the characters lives and easy to work out most of their solutions because they aren’t particularly complicated. This also allows everyone to have character scenes in different combinations.

This is also one of the simplest stories but as a geek, we’re used to SF tropes, although Chris Chibnall resists giving comparisons to ‘Alien’, although it’s pretty close. I suppose having an on-board AI would have brought too many complications into the mix. You do have to wonder why have a fully automated spaceship with no way to take over when there is immense danger.

There are a few odd gaps. There is a hint at the beginning of a sizable number of other places the Doctor and her friends have visited before getting here but considering they haven’t really developed one can only assume mundane things happened. The P’Ting drains the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver of its energy and we don’t seen how she gets it charged up again.

She’s also relying on it for doing so much of her work that you would think she would make a spare than just rely on one. You also have to wonder why the damage the Doctor received didn’t trigger a regeneration although I can rationalise and say that her new body can sustain substantial damage before needing that to happen.

Oddly, this is also one of the few tales I can’t raise much comment about. Chibnall is exploring basic themes in his first season and this is by far his least complicated. It does rely on the character vignettes to hold the story together but none of them are that complicated or unpredictable. No doubt for new people to SF, it’ll look amazing but you do have to wonder who the audience Chibnall is aiming for with this one.

© GF Willmetts

04 November 2018

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