Jodie Whittakes’s debut series was an average performance for the Timestamps Project.
This set of adventures felt like something in line with television movies from the 1990s and 2000s. The filming styles and productions reminded me of syndicated science fiction similar to Rick Berman-era Star Trek, the Stargate franchise, or even the Doctor Who TV movie itself. That’s not a bad thing – the 1990s and 2000s were a big part of my growth as a science fiction fan – but the production values are a big shift from those of the well-funded Steven Moffat era. The stories follow the production values, offering a bare-bones, pulpy sci-fi set of episodes with neither “clever” twists nor convoluted overarching plot threads.
That said, this series suffers from a major writing flaw when it comes to endings. Chris Chibnall is no stranger to writing and producing for the franchise – his fingerprints are on several episodes of Doctor Who and Torchwood – but each of his credited works was overseen by someone else. In Series Eleven, Chris Chibnall has the full reins. In comparison to something like Broadchurch, which told a set of serialized stories over a trio of eight-episode series, this series of individual episodes crash to rapid endings instead of tying up narrative loose ends in a tidy bow. Almost as if he just ran out of time for the stories he wanted to craft.
In other words, I wonder if Chris Chibnall’s writing strength lies in longer-form storytelling. Perhaps these episodes would have fared better in 70-minute timeslots or as multi-part stories?
The writing drags on this era of Doctor Who when everything else seems to fire so well. I do like the pulpy stories, the companions are fun, and Jodie Whittaker is fun and energetic in the title role. Notably, the stories with less Chibnall influence clicked better with me, and I feel like a better writer could really make this choir sing.
Series Eleven comes to an end with a 3.9 score. In the larger scope, it stands alone at seventeenth place among thirty-nine seasons in the scope of the Timestamps Project. In comparison, it sits between the small 4.0 group (the classic Twelfth Season and Series Ten) and the rather large 3.8 group (comprised of six classic seasons: Seventh, Tenth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Twenty-Fifth, and Twenty-Sixth). Average to be sure, and not really my favorites to revisit.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth – 5
The Ghost Monument – 4
Rosa – 5
Arachnids in the UK – 2
The Tsuranga Conundrum – 3
Demons of the Punjab – 5
Kerblam! – 4
The Witchfinders – 4
It Takes You Away – 4
The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos – 3
Resolution – 4
Series Eleven Average Rating: 3.9/5
Next up, the Timestamps Project continues through the Thirteenth Doctor’s era with Series Twelve. The adventure continues in a straight line afterward to Flux and the franchise’s sixtieth anniversary.
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Spyfall
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.