By JD Phillips
I was really hoping that last week’s subpar “monster of the week” episode was just a fluke but it appears like this is going to be a trend. That’s very worrying. The monsters on “Doctor Who” are the lifeblood of the show. They can be magically bizarre like the Daleks, Cybermen, or Autons.
They can be terrifying like the Weeping Angels, The Silence, or the brilliantly simple Midnight Entity. They can even be so terrible that they become iconic in their own right like the personified fat aliens, the Adipose. (I used to work retail and the Adipose stuffed dolls were some of the best selling “Doctor Who” toys.)
What the monsters should never be is forgettable. The Pting is one of the most forgettable aliens the show has ever had. The Doctor basically fought Disney’s Stitch this week, but not as memorable. Had the alien been self effacingly horrible like the aforementioned Adipose, it could’ve been pretty fun. (Like the actual Stitch.)
Instead, they played their bizarre killer frog monster straight. At no point in the show was I actually afraid of it. It didn’t even succeed in eating the sonic screwdriver.
That’s really unfortunate because a good monster could’ve really elevated this episode. It had an icon from the future, a hospital spaceship designed by Apple, and a pregnant man. Those are the bones for a pretty good “Alien” rip off. That’s this show’s bread and butter. Instead, the monster sucked all of the energy out of the episode, making the male birthing scene the highest point of tension.
This is becoming the show’s biggest problem. Out of the first five episodes, only one has had a decent villain/monster. That’s pretty bad. Clearly, either the writers don’t take the monster concepts seriously or they are already out of ideas before they’ve begun. If the show wanted to make a name for itself without Daleks or any of the other iconic baddies, this is about the worst way to go about that. This show could really use some Daleks right about now.
The saddest part about the entire situation is that the rest of the show is going better than it has in years. Jodie Whittaker is still effortlessly perfect as the Doctor, the companions keep getting better, and the effects are excellent. The core team hasn’t felt this strong since the Amy/Rory days.
This is not the time for “Doctor Who” to lean on its formula. This is the time for the show to be bold and reinvent itself. Jodie Whittaker and the cast are clearly up for it. The plots are just not giving them the material they need to shine properly. The cast, the show, and the audience really deserve better.
The eleventh season hit more bumps this week as it unveiled another underwhelming monster-of-the-week. Hopefully, the show regains some of its “Rosa” energy next week as it goes into a racially charged historical setting. If not, if might be a sign of rough waters for the new Doctor.