Jan. 7th, 2019

purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
I saw this twice. Tame Layman missed it first time around but expressed an interest in viewing it when I said it had been good. We both thought it was the highlight of the season.

Personally I think Demons of the Punjab and Rosa were the stand out episodes of series 11. They both took Doctor Who to places it had never really been - shining lights on recent bits of history that are relevant and important to large numbers of British people but also often over-looked in school history. They looked stunning. The world's they presented had a genuine depth of detail missing from more futuristic episodes*. They managed to deal with big issues of human inhumanity without become overly didactic or overly simple. They had resolutions but steered clear of offering trite solutions. Where, for me, Demons of the Punjab wins out is that Rosa has deeply constrained by everything we know about Rosa Parks. The story the Doctor and her companions participated in had to be constructed around the edges of Rosa's own story. Demons of the Punjab in focusing on a family known only to us through the tales Yaz recalled being told by her grandmother had the freedom for the Doctor and friends to be more integral to events and the ending to be less pre-ordained - though it was pretty obvious from early on that things were not going to end well for Prem.

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out if it would have been better without the aliens. In the end they are kind of superfluous to the story and seem to be there in part simply because the production team lacked the courage to go full on pure historical. On the other hand, the confusion they introduce into the story and the way they force involvement from the Doctor and interactions between the Tardis team and the family, helps drive the plot. Without them there is rather less to happen. Other incident would have to have been created. They also provided a natural way to bring in the themes of witness and remembrance which were obviously important given the story's air-date of Remembrance Sunday.

The Teenager agreed that it was good telly but was adamant that it was not Doctor Who. We muttered about William Hartnell to her but she took the line that what might have been Doctor Who forty years before she was born was entirely irrelevant to what counted as Doctor Who in 2018. I'm not sure she's right in its entirety, but I can see there is an argument that this is sufficiently different from the current status quo to feel like a different show altogether.

Where, in general, I've been rather `meh' about series 11. I am absolutely behind the re-introduction of the educational historical story. I wouldn't want an entire season of them, but I think they have proved they have a place in the Doctor Who mix and its a shame it has been so long without one.

* Yes, obviously, detail is difficult to do from scratch.

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