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TV Review By Calum

DOCTOR WHO Series 11 Episode 2 – ‘The Ghost Monument’

Written by Chris Chibnall, directed by Jamie Childs

SYNOPSIS

The Doctor, Yasmin, Ryan and Graham find themselves stranded on a desert planet with two humanoid aliens – Angstrom and Epzo – who are competing in an intergalactic race.

Can the Doctor protect her friends and solve the mystery of Desolation? And will the Doctor ever be able to find her TARDIS?

FIRST THOUGHTS

In my opinion, it was always going to be a struggle for the second episode to reach the standard of the incredible series debut, and that seems to be a common trend with a new series of ‘Doctor Who’.

But that’s not to say ‘The Ghost Monument’ is bad at all. It is entertaining, there are great moments here and there, I definitely think younger, hard-core Sci-Fi fans might enjoy this episode, but there are some things missing here and there that could have made it a bit better.

WRITING

Chris’ strength in writing continues to shine, making sure we are following characters who are all very well-rounded, and the dynamics between them all is very interesting.

My favourite moment of the episode is a nicely written scene between Graham and Ryan coming to terms with the death of Grace. It’s short, but very sweet, and great character development.

The writing has also set up a great mystery with our first alien planet this series (and has also hinted at a possible series arc), and the idea of a space race was really good and something I’ve always wanted to see in ‘Doctor Who’. However, my complaint with the writing was that whilst everything was set-up very well, it didn’t exactly end things with a bang, more of a… “oh, okay. That’s it, we’re done now”.

It felt a little rushed in some areas, and that’s a shame, because I wanted more time with our main characters exploring their first planet together.

Performances

Our main characters continue to shine, creating a wonderful rapport between each other, and it’s nice to see them thrown together into a dangerous adventure when they’ve only just met.

Jodie Whittaker continues to be the strongest part of the show with her incredible energy, wit, charm and warmth. I love how she is the only one who’s really fascinated by the planet and its previous inhabitants whilst everyone is more concerned about their survival. And in the final scenes – without spoiling anything – you can tell Jodie is having so much fun.

Tosin Cole runs with the nice development Ryan gets here, and it’s nice that Ryan’s dyspraxia hasn’t been forgotten in a nice little scene with him in front of a ladder and under pressure. But we’re also starting to see more of a dangerous side to Ryan involving a gun which is interesting and I look forward to seeing if it’s taken further in his character’s journey.

Mandip Gill gives a great performance as Yasmin, and I love her reaction to being on her first spaceship, very true I felt, almost in the exact way I believe I’d react if I found myself on a crashing spaceship. And there’s some nice hints to Yasmin’s family life which I hope develops later on this series.

And Bradley Walsh still creates a wonderfully grounded performance as Graham. What I love is the humanity in Graham’s character, even though he’s been thrown in at the deep end, he’s still trying to look after his step-grandson Ryan and get him to open up about his emotions after losing his Nan.

The guest stars and their characters are interesting. Shaun Dooley plays the moody Epzo, and he does well in the role, and thanks to Chris’ writing we get details as to why he is the way he is, revealing a really messed up childhood. And Susan Lynch is fantastic as the grieving Angstrom, and her grief seems to have a connection to the arc this series. We also have Art Malik performing, and whilst he’s good, his role is just a cameo and not very compelling.

Direction:

The visuals of ‘The Ghost Monument’ were stellar.

Mark Tonderai does a really good job at giving life to the planet Desolation, making the whole world exciting. He even did a fantastic job with the very small spaceship set in the first five minutes, and he managed to make dark, gloomy, sewer-like tunnels look brilliant.

The monsters are brought together with a mix of practical effects and CGI, and whilst they look stunning and creepy, they were thrown away quite quickly, and they weren’t as great as the Stenza from episode 1. Important note: the Stenza seem to have some relevance to this series, and look set to play a big part in the series arc.

We also finally get the new opening titles, and I really like it, the music is great, the effects are gorgeous (they have a slight Jon Pertwee feel to them), but I do think it’s a teeny-tiny bit too short.

And, without giving anything away, the final scenes – with a big, final reveal – are beyond AMAZING!

FINAL THOUGHTS

‘The Ghost Monument’ is a fairly good episode, but isn’t as strong as ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’. It lacks strength in the aliens and it lacks a good pay-off to the space-race.

The human characters continue to be the front and centre of the show, which is done really well. But I think it needed more time to add more layers to the planet and the dangers our characters were faced with.

And that’s what this episode needed, whilst it was good, I think it could’ve been pushed a bit more to be even better.

‘DOCTOR WHO: The Ghost Monument’ result = 7/10
Catch up with the new ‘Doctor Who’ , or return to a previous series, on BBC iPlayer,
You can also find 10 series' of Doctor Who on Netflix!

© Calum Brown Visable Inc

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Images taken from www.doctorwhotv.co.uk

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