Well, Can People and Things Stop Putting Stuff Inside Me Without My Permission?
The joy of Sundays is that I get to sleep in, and then do my workout at a nice, leisurely time in the late morning. Usually Sunday afternoons are reserved for Epcot with my son to photograph Alice in Wonderland and Snow White, but due to rainy conditions I didn't even need to rush out the door to do that. The rain isn't awesome, but compared to the rest of the country that seems to be buried under snow I am good with it. (Although I get to go visit snow in Colorado a week from Tuesday, so I'll get in my six days of winter soon enough.) As for today's treadmill viewing, this story the end of a cycle of five consecutive stories that follow on to each other one right after the other. It also reunites the regenerated Doctor with her regenerated TARDIS. I have thoughts about that.
The Ghost Monument
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Over the decades Doctor Who has changed styles as frequently as Weird Al changes costumes during a concert (if you've never been to one of his shows: it's a lot). Throughout the modern era under Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat, it has largely been a high-adventure romp with fantastical soft science fiction elements. There have been dramatic moments, sure -- just look at The Human Condition / Family of Blood, but for the most part it has been lots of running down corridors set to a bombastic soundtrack, mixed with clever one-liners. Which, don't get me wrong, is great fun. The thing about the Chris Chibnall era (at least so far) is that the show has taken on a more deliberate tone with less bombast and more contemplation.
This episode opens directly on from the previous, with the TARDIS Team floating in open space about to die before they are scooped up in pairs by two passing spaceships. Those ships, as it turns out, are in the last leg of a race. Sort of an intergalactic Cannonball Run, but with less Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. First prize is a stupid amount of money, and the finish line is the titular Ghost Monument. This is revealed very early on to be the TARDIS, which is phasing in and out of space/time awaiting the Doctor's return.
And yet, for a race, there isn't a lot of rapid forward movement in the plot. Instead it is a character study of the two final competitors: a woman who is striving to save her entire extended family by freeing them from a homeworld overrun by
Tim Shaw's Tzim-Sha's race the Stenza, and a man who is so cynical that he waxes poetic about the time his dear sainted mother broke his leg, arm, and collarbone in order to teach him a lesson not to trust anybody. There are also several moments in which Graham and Ryan struggle to come to grips with Grace's recent death. As for Yaz, she is there but she doesn't particularly get a lot of meat to work with on this one.
Yes, there are also threats. They are stranded on a planet called Desolation, a desert world which was stripped of all life by a global super weapon gone rogue and left teeming with flesh-eating microbes, sharpshooting robots, and strangely-talkative floating mummy wraps. But really the whole thing is an intellectual mystery for the Doctor to puzzle through.
So yes, it is very, very different from everything that has come before it in the modern era of Who, and I totally get why fans of David Tennant and/or Matt Smith might not enjoy it nearly as much. As for me, I liked it a lot. There was only one thing in the story that really annoyed me, which I talked about the first time it aired. The spot where one of the spaceships is crashing, and the three people on the ground could pick literally an infinite number of directions to run that would be helpful in avoiding the impact but instead choose to run in a straight line in front of it to try to outrun the impact. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But other than that, a thoroughly enjoyable episode.
And then at the end the Doctor is finally reunited with her TARDIS, and Graham, Ryan, and Yaz get to have their "it's bigger on the inside" moment, and all is right with the world.
Regarding the new TARDIS console room design, I still don't love it. I don't necessarily hate it, and I appreciate the designers trying to do something original, but it just seems like too much amorphous undefined space to me. That, of course, is the point. I dunno. I didn't especially love the previous control room either, with monochromatic gunmetal design, and this is at least a step up from that. I think the last one I genuinely adored was the one that Matt Smith had in Series Five through Seven, with it's multiple levels and clear plexiglass floor plating. As for this new one, with its whole organic crystaline structure, it's not bad. I just wish it had a bit more definition.
Tomorrow: My favorite single episode of the season, and the closest thing to a Pure Historical that the show has seen since Black Orchid. Now that's worth getting out of bed for in the morning and hitting the treadmill.
Companion(s): Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan
Episode(s): The Ghost Monument
Steps Walked: 7,668 today, 4,405,745 total
Distance Walked: 4.12 miles today, 2,306.98 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 100 today, 10,800 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 5,265 total
Weight: 262.42 lbs (five day moving average), net change -44.88 lbs