doctor who kerblam! review

Doctor Who may very well travel in time and space, what with the shocking timeliness of its latest episode, “Kerblam!” The seventh episode of season 11 delivers a sharp critique of Amazon while tossing in several fun nods to David Tennant and Matt Smith’s eras, in a story that itself plays like a spirited throwback to Doctor Who of yesteryear.

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doctor who demons of the punjab review

Fifty-five years ago, Doctor Who was created as a children’s educational program: a sci-fi series that took British children on whirlwind adventures to the far reaches of time and space with the express purpose of making history sexy. Along the way, that original intention got lost as the series — like most sci-fi franchises — got bogged down by a dense mythology and cohorts of child fans who had turned into adults. As the series entered the 21st century, Doctor Who had to compete with sleek, modern sci-fi series like Battlestar Galactica or Firefly, leading it to often reimagine itself to appeal to “mature” sci-fi fans who craved complex storylines (though still keeping its signature weird, campy flair).

But Chris Chibnall and co. seem intent on bringing us back to Doctor Who‘s roots. As with this season’s “Rosa,” “Demons of the Punjab” is here to educate and enlighten its viewers about a certain time period or person, aliens be damned. Well no, there are still aliens, but they’re secondary to the all-important historical lesson that Doctor Who has to impart.

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doctor who the tsuranga conundrum review

All this season, I’ve felt like Chris Chibnall’s era of Doctor Who is trying to get on its feet, testing out new dynamics and new baddies while enthusiastically (maybe a little too enthusiastically) proving that this is the sci-fi show you know and love. “The Tsuranga Conundrum,” the Chibnall-penned fifth episode of the 11th season, is the epitome of that: leaning back on a familiar narrative while introducing whole new worlds and universes in a show that has prided itself for its kind of insular mythology. And while I’m happy for Doctor Who to leave the Daleks and the Weeping Angels be for now, I can’t help but feel a little wistful for the recognizable elements that the Chibnall era is so quick to shed.

It’s a good thing then that Jodie Whittaker gives her most delightful turn yet as the 13th Doctor in “The Tsuranga Conundrum.” Where Doctor Who is starting to feel progressively unfamiliar, Whittaker’s Doctor is steadily becoming that familiar friend who I can’t wait to hang out with each week. My ranking of favorite Doctors has already been thrown into chaos.

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doctor who arachnids in the uk review

Doctor Who has never really done Halloween-themed episodes (despite the scary bent of many of its episodes, Christmas is more this show’s speed), but it seems fitting that the BBC sci-fi show’s Halloween-adjacent episode has all the hallmarks of a B-horror movie: corrupt businessmen, science gone horribly wrong, and big-ass spiders. “Arachnids in the U.K.” sees the Doctor and her companions return to Earth in an episode that recalls the classic show and gives us a creepy crawler that — in true Doctor Who fashion — made me feel more emotions than just fear.

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doctor who rosa review

The Doctor has tangled with plenty of historical figures before but — as seems to be the trend with this new season of Doctor Who“Rosa” is unlike any of those past jaunts in history. The third episode of Doctor Who season 11 takes Team TARDIS to 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, where the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham stumble into Rosa Parks on the eve of her big history-making bus protest. But contrary to what we’ve seen in Doctor Who before, “Rosa” plays it completely straight, foregoing the sci-fi show’s usual whimsy in favor of a hard-hitting, utterly empowering episode television.

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doctor who the ghost monument review

Well, I asked for something more visually impressive, and I got it. “The Ghost Monument” might be the most cinematic episode of Doctor Who yet, with the BBC likely pouring lots of money into those sweeping drone shots and the on-location shoot in South Africa. Where the charming but mostly competent season premiere felt almost suffocatingly small, the second episode of season 11 balloons out with an episode centering on an intergalactic space race. As for whether the episode’s narrative catches up with its ambitious premise, well, I’ll get to that later.

This season already feels unlike any season of Doctor Who before — but as for exactly how to describe this new era of the show, I’m kind of at a loss. Jodie Whittaker‘s debut episode as the 13th Doctor was a slow-to-unfold, character-driven drama, while “The Ghost Monument” is all rolling sand dunes and blockbuster-inspired storylines. But perhaps what new showrunner Chris Chibnall is bringing to Doctor Who is an undercurrent of scrappiness. Whittaker’s Doctor is less in control and more prone to scrambling for a solution than her predecessors — making the series more exciting and alien than ever. Welcome to the truly modern Doctor Who, replete with shaky handheld, grimy settings, and extreme close-ups. But while director Mark Tonderai piles on the lavish visuals, Chibnall’s script for “The Ghost Monument” is sadly a little lightweight.

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doctor who the woman who fell to earth review

This is the Doctor, and Doctor Who, as we’ve never seen before. The season 11 premiere of Doctor Who marks a new era for the long-running British sci-fi show — in more ways than one. There’s a new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, for the first time in eight years, who brings with him a new, humanist approach to the series along with the most diverse creative team that the show has ever seen.

But I need to once again emphasize how monumental it is that Jodie Whittaker plays the first female Doctor ever. In its 55-year history, the titular time-traveling alien of Doctor Who has been played exclusively by 12 white men. But no more.

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doctor who season 11 trailer

“All of this is new to me. New faces, new worlds, new times. So if I asked really, really nicely, would you be my new best friends?”

That’s the question Jodie Whittaker poses to her three new companions played by Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole in the first official Doctor Who season 11 trailer, but it’s also a question directed at us longtime Doctor Who fans who are always a little wary whenever the Doctor regenerates and a new actor takes on the beloved role of the time-traveling alien. Will we accept Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor — the 13th actor to take on the role, but only the first woman to do so? Yes, yes we will.

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doctor who season 11 teaser

The Doctor will see you now. And she couldn’t be happier. Jodie Whittaker made her highly anticipated debut as the first female Doctor in the BBC sci-fi show’s 55-year history in the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas special “Twice Upon a Time,” but the new season 11 teaser introduces us properly to the Thirteenth Doctor for the first time, sporting a beaming smile and some fresh new threads.

But the teaser reveals something even more exciting: the three new companions who will be boarding Whittaker’s maiden voyage on the TARDIS. Geronimo!

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