Throughout its rich history, Doctor Who stories have often had some pretty catchy names.
Whether it’s the punchy one word titles like ‘Blink’, ‘Inferno’ or ‘Terminus’, titles that use lines of dialogue from the scripts like ‘State of Decay’, ‘Full Circle’ or ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ or even ones that just take a good old fashioned Ronseal approach like ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ or ‘The Sea Devils’, the chances are you’ll remember them and be able to identify them easily.
I bring this up because the final episode of the current season of Doctor Who – The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos – has the worst episode title in the entire history of the show. There is no debate. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I haven’t come across a worse episode title in any TV show.
Putting aside that there wasn’t actually a battle, what sort of name is Ranskoor av Kolos for a planet? Sure, I’ve taken the piss out of Terry Nation in the past for his on-the-nose planet names like ‘Aridious’ and ‘Mechanus’ but at least they are memorable. I can’t see anyone rolling ‘Ranskoor av Kolos’ off their tongue any time soon, can you?
Of course, a name will only get you so far, hence my use of Terminus above. Regardless of the quality of the title, what matters most is whether the episode is any good.
So how good was The Battle of Thingamajig?
Doctor Who – The Battle of Somethingorother Review: What’s It About?
The Doctor and her pals once again tangle with the dude from the first episode. It’s the return match nobody asked for.
Thoughts – I Fell Asleep
I cannot argue that The Battle of WhatsItCalled looks good. The cinematography throughout Season 11 has been of a very high standard, and they’ve done their bit going to various different locations in a bid to
make each episode look distinct.
Similarly, costume design and lighting has been great too. The incidental music is an abomination, but that’s just my own personal opinion.
But that is just style. What about the substance?
Put simply, in this case I fell asleep.
Yes, I’d had a busy day and yes I’d eaten a lot of food, but it was 8pm when I watched it, not 1am, and quite frankly if it was an interesting episode I’d have stayed awake and alert.
But it was neither of those things, and so I dropped off for a good 20 minutes.
Then it took me until today (Friday) to summon up the will to even bother watching it again for the purposes of this review. And I didn’t enjoy it much this time either.
So what’s the problem?
It just wasn’t interesting. It involved the Doctor and chums walking about and handling things in a flat and tension free way. Yet again there was no threat to speak of, yet again the villain was vanquished fairly easily and yet again as an episode written by Chris Chibnall it was all just one-note.
I just found it all dreadfully dull, and judging by the general reviews, I’m not the only one.
And like I said above, I don’t think anyone had an appetite to see “Tim Shaw” make a reappearance. Tim Shaw Mania did not sweep the nation.
Wait, That’s The Finale?
If The Battle of Racoon and Kodos was just another episode then I’d maybe be a bit more forgiving, but it’s the end of a season. Surely they wanted to go out with a bang?
Now I’ll hold my hands up and say that when I heard this season wasn’t going to have a story-arc to speak of, I thought it would be a refreshing change. Indeed, I think I might have said as much in some earlier reviews or on social media. In the past, story-arcs have overpowered the individual episodes and led to finales that have perhaps been a bit too unwelcoming to the casual viewer. Plus some of those story-arcs (and I’m looking at you, River Song) have just been annoying.
But this season proves that they do have their place, because that episode showed that it was no way to end a season.
I read Ian “I’m NOT watching this season” Levine’s comments on the season after he…erm…watched every episode and he says it’s the weakest end to a season ever. To be fair, as someone not shy to use hyperbole he was always going to exaggerate, because you can’t argue that Time Flight was a powerful end to Season 19, or The Kings Demons ended Season 20 on a high, but as far as Nu Who goes, he is bang on.
Along with many of the other issues people have with this season of the show, hopefully Chris Chibnall will learn from it going forward.
I’m not going to hold my breath though.
“I Don’t Like Her”
Less specific to the episode – because there is so little to say about such a dreary affair – I think it’s worth commenting on Jodie Whittaker’s performance throughout the season.
Taking everything into consideration, she’s been ok but not great.
I think it’s fair to say that it took four of the first seven Doctors at least 10 weeks to fully embrace the part, some of them longer. Actors do need to find their feet in the role and I’d like to think that come her second season, she might be a bit more comfortable.
She is, so far, the weakest Doctor since the show returned, and yes, that could be down to her having an altogether weaker run of episodes than her counterparts. But it’s also worth noting that casual viewers I’ve spoken to have all said the same thing; “I don’t like her”.
Why? Because they still see her as someone who is trying to hard to be quirky and to replicate David Tennant. It’s a criticism I’ve brought up before, and after 10 weeks, it’s disappointing that it’s still valid.
They also have said to me that they don’t think she plays the part as naturally or as commandingly as the likes of Peter Capaldi or the aforementioned Tennant.
It’s worth noting that everyone who has said this to me has been a woman…
I’ll just say that I do think the quality of the writing helps determine the quality of a Doctor, but as an actor, she’s not got the gravitas to match her predecessors since 2005.
- All of a sudden, Graham turned into Charles Bronson from Death Wish. I’ve liked Bradley Walsh’s performances throughout but I thought his take on that was a little subdued.
- They nicked part of the plot from The Pirate Planet
- Unlike just about every episode of the season, I didn’t think there was any chuckles to be had. Disappointing.
- As nice as it is that they traverse the globe looking for splendid filming locations, I’d sooner they did it locally and produced more episodes.
- Nothing really came of those patches they wore on their heads, did it? If you’re going to make a big deal about something early on, make use of it appropriately.
- Guess who didn’t really do anything in this episode? Did you guess Yas? Clever you.
Doctor Who – The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos Review: Final Thoughts
Rarely has an episode of Doctor Who filled me with such withering apathy than The Battle of Rocky Road.
It might have looked good but it was the personification of dullness, and certainly unbecoming of a season finale.
They really must do better in the next season.
But can they? It’s a worry.
Hey, at least the Daleks are supposed to be coming back; that’ll be a refreshing change.
No, I can’t believe I said that either.