There’s no getting around the fact that Doctor Who just took Nibbler and made him into the Villain of the Week. It may have rollicked along at a pleasing pace (director Jennifer Perrot doing a great job) but that doesn’t conceal the fact it’s a bit of a rip-off. Yes he may be green instead of black, but the P’Ting is a Nibbler-shaped beast primarily notable for prodigious and implausible eating. Also I rather regret failing to praise the special effects in last week’s spider-fest, because this week it looked like the design department were more concerned with realising the P’Ting in the form that would make him a marketable action figure than worrying about things like accurate lighting. The P’Ting was created by Tim Price, by the way, not the episode’s writer Chris Chibnall who with this episode has written or co-written the longest run of stories since 2008/9 when Russell T. Davies wrote or co-wrote 7 in an row. It’s certainly the longest contiguous run within a series.
Anyway it’s an entertaining enough episode, reminiscent of RTD era episodes like The End of the World with ‘cute’ aliens (pregnant man etc.) but if you compare it to the ship-under-siege story in this slot in the last season, Oxygen, it’s not really in the same league. I’m really hoping the excellent The Ghost Monument and Rosa weren’t anomalies in this series.
Despite the body count (2) here I remain appreciative of the fact that there’s been no retributive killing. The P’Ting survives. Robertson survived. Enzo survived. Although the Doctor is rarely seen to be vengeful, that’s often been written around by some other force bringing and end to the morally delinquent, a way of tacitly endorsing an extreme form of justice while keeping the Doctor’s hands clean. I’m liking that Chibnall doesn’t seem to be going for that.
Jodie Whittaker gives perhaps her best performance yet.
Why am I trusting you, Doctor?
You might be a bad liar, Astos, but you’ve got excellent instincts.
I like the Doctor getting off on the tech, too, when she’s venerating the anti-matter drive.
I love it. Conceptually and actually.
And I like her sharing a.weakness with Bernie Rhodenbarr for “You’re probably wondering why I called you all here.”
Mandip Gill gets more and more impressive, giving such an intense, focused performance. I’m still enjoying Bradley Walsh too, however the constrained setting is an advertisement for the benefit of leaving one or two of the team in the TARDIS when you’ve got a trio of companions. I wonder if any of them are feeling faint?
Suzanna Packer gives an excellent turn in this week’s guest star role.
Next week: this looks more promising. 1947. India. Too much to hope for a pure historical? Or a reappearance for the Bigoted Monk?