Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall said prior to the launch of the Jodie Whittaker’s first season as The Doctor that fan favourite ‘monsters’ like the Daleks and Cybermen wouldn’t be featuring this season.
New monsters would be created, then, and the stories would have to do more heavy lifting.
In the latest episode, the quizzically named Tsuranga Conundrum, we get just that – although we see rather too much of the little beastie which resembles a bad tempered Adipose (from a much earlier Doctor episode – Partners in Crime) with teeth.
This new monster threatens an automated hospital ship that the Doctor and her companions find themselves on after an unfortunate encounter with a sonic mine while searching an alien junkyard planet – don’t ask!
The small but nasty monster – amusingly called a Pting – isn’t interested in eating organic life forms.
It’s got a taste for energy sources, though, and that’s what threatens the ship as systems start to fail due to the destructive stowaway and the Doctor discovers that the ship’s anti-matter drive would make a very tasty meal.
Like another alien, though, it’s highly inadvisable to touch it and our heroes must devise new ways of getting rid of the unwelcome guest.
As if there wasn’t enough jeopardy on board, the hospital ship is also carrying passengers who have their own problems – an ailing general (played by Suzanne Packer), her brother, and her android partner and a pregnant man (a very quickly explained story).
And the hospital ship’s pre-programmed destination doesn’t really agree with letting a dangerous Pting anywhere near them.
The Doctor’s companions Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) get some more quality characterisation in while we get to see the resourcefulness from Yaz (Mandip Gill) who namechecks England women’s football goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain during one sequence.
What we find, then is a variation of Alien but any fear factor is diluted due to splitting the limited running time between three main subplots and a monster for which less would definitely have been more.
We’re already halfway through the series and so far it’s decent without being consistently brilliant.