The season 11 finale of Doctor Who starts like an episode of classic Doctor Who – in a quarry with some portentous set-up.
Quickly skipping forward to our heroes, they answer nine different distress calls from the same place on the same planet and come across a foe they thought they had vanquished.
Yes, the inevitable smoking gun from the beginning of the series returned with a master plan to ultimately eliminate Earth as an act of vengeance.
Looking at this episode, there’s been a high spend on visual effects which has probably redirected the budget away from earlier episodes.
Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor continues to drop quips like the other modern Doctors in the post 2005 reboot but the lighter quips don’t land well given the direction the show wants to head in.
Mark Addy (as the captain of one of the ships in distress) and Bradley Walsh (as Graham) deliver decent performances again while the season finale regained some of the bombast from previous years – even the Doctor name checked one such finale episode as a throwaway remark.
The extra companions have given a chance for plot lines to be split up but once again their impact is diluted – Yaz (Mandeep Gill) in this episode is little more than a sounding board for ideas for the Doctor while Ryan (Tosin Cole) is there to help Graham to make the right choice between an act of revenge and being a better man.
Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos – a good but somewhat flawed season finale
Phyllis Logan may be an experienced actor but she was given a thankless role as a naive but very powerful (and rare) Ux.
The Ux were the key to the episode and needed a lot of exposition when I couldn’t help but think there was an opportunity missed in cutting short a lot of the wordiness and potentially give the Doctor something to get involved with next season.
In all, it’s another good episode of the show but not without flaws – pedestrian pacing and plot holes has been the bane of many of the episodes of this season and there’s several Doctor Who episodes from previous seasons that were markedly more entertaining.
Jodie needs to be allowed more time to find her own interpretation of the Doctor without dropping in so many obvious call backs from other actors in the role but there’s a lot to say for the fact that there’s been no stinkers in this season.
And finally, the music is good but having listened to a season of it now, there’s a definite generic nature to it when compared to Murray Gold’s more dramatic themes.
In some cases this has failed to enhance the emotional impact of some scenes in the stories so far although the scripts themselves have generally needed sharpening up.
News emerged after the conclusion of the episode that the show would not be returning for a 12th season until 2020.
And the last show of the season, on New Year’s Day, affords the BBC the chance to claim an episode of Doctor Who aired in 2019, as well as more time to work on the a full season of the show.
The trailer even implies an appearance for the Daleks, which will be interesting.