Doctor Who airs Sunday nights on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in North America. Time slots may vary.
The series stars Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan, Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair and Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien.
Injured and stranded in the wilds of a far-flung galaxy, The Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan must band together with a group of strangers to survive against one of the universe’s most deadly – and unusual – creatures.
“The Tsuranga Conundrum” is easily the most “classic” Doctor Who episode so far this season. A truly science fiction tale set in a single location. We’ve seen it many times before but this is our first time with Jodie Whittaker at the helm.
Another cinematically beautiful opening leads Team Doctor in to an incident with a sonic mine. Waking up on a hospital ship things really take a turn. But, just like in previous episodes, there’s still a heart and an important message that writer Chris Chibnall wants to put across.
There’s a strong undercurrent of family to “The Tsuranga Conundrum”. Ryan finally opens up to Yas about his father before helping Ross (Jack Shalloo) give birth. There’s also the relationship between Suzanne Packer’s Eve and Ben Bailey-Smith’s Durkas which really rounds out the episode.
But before we get to that we have to mention the Pting. Doctor Who‘s cutest creature since the Adipose. It’s certainly designed with stuffed toys in mind. There isn’t a single shot which doesn’t emphasise how cute it is despite being dangerous.
I’ve put it on my Christmas list already… *hint*
Following last weeks unexpected emotional twist I wasn’t sure whether to expect lightning to strike twice. Once again this episode lulled me in to a false sense of security. By around half way through the episode I felt I knew exactly where it was going. In sight was a predictable ending in which The Doctor saved the ship and everyone lived happily ever after. But that was not the case.
Whilst resolving the Pting storyline kept the cuteness factor and the pacing of the episode there was more going on. As Eve Cicero succumbed to her Pilots Heart disease the episode because to twist the emotional knife once again.
With Ryan and Graham aiding Ross give birth we got the second emotion gut punch. Ryan mulling over Ross being the same age his father was when he was born and how he would feel to have a child in that position really brought the character to life.
Chibnall is just edging along the character development each week. These are now three of the most real companions we’ve had in modern Who history. They might not be the best or most likeable. But nobody can argue that they aren’t the most real.
Whilst “The Tsuranga Conundrum” will undoubtedly not be the most memorable episode of the season it does prove one thing. Chibnall can still pull out the classic Who tropes and make them work. As the series develops it would be great to see more of a hybrid of episodes like “Rosa” mixed with these more sci-fi elements.
This episode is a welcome reminder that the Doctor Who formula is alive and well. It is saved for becoming too generic thanks to a nuanced performance by Whittaker and one of the cutest creatures we’ve seen on the show for many years.
Coming up next week “Demons of the Punjab”…