TV Review – ‘Demons of the Punjab’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

Guess what? I saw the latest ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode on its initial transmission via BBC One and not BBC iPlayer as my parents and I have been doing for the previous five episodes in Series 11. My parents and I were away last weekend, so thus no Sunday commitments allowed me to see the episode on TV.

So what did I make of ‘Demons of the Punjab’? I liked it! I thought it was really good. It was certainly better than the previous episode, ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’. ‘Demons of the Punjab’ is an historical TV adventure for the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz and turned out to be quite an emotional episode.

The episode focuses on Yaz as a character as well as her family background. We saw hints of it in the ‘Arachnids In The UK’ episode. This episode provides another opportunity to look into her character. Even Yaz’s family members from ‘Arachnids In The UK’ make some appearance in this story with her.

‘Demons of the Punjab’ is by Vinay Patel, who makes his first contribution to the ‘Doctor Who’ series. It starts with Yaz and her family, Shobna Gulati as Najia; Ravin J. Ganatra as Hakim and Bhavnisha Parmar as Sonya as they visit Yaz’s grandmother, Leena Dhingra as Nani Umbreen, for her birthday.

Actually Leena Dhingra has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before since she appeared as Miss Chandrakala in the Series 4 TV episode, ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, with David Tennant. At the birthday party, Yaz’s nani gives a special broken watch to her granddaughter that could have significance later on. 😀

When Yaz joins up with the Doctor and the others in the TARDIS, she asks to go back to a point in time where her nani was a young woman and see what she was like. The Doctor reluctantly agrees to the request, setting the TARDIS back to where Yaz’s grandmother lived in the Pakistan-India border in 1947.

Now this is another one of those episodes in Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’ that has some historical educational value just like ‘Rosa’ did beforehand. I don’t think ‘Demons of the Punjab’ is as good as ‘Rosa’, but it was interesting to see and discover a historical period of Earth history that I’ve never heard of.

The Punjab was a region in both India and Pakistan that once had Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs living in peace together. There’s a certain religious theme that permeates this episode. However, the Doctor and friends have arrived in a perilous time since the Partition of India is about to begin in the Punjab.

The Partition of India divided the Punjab across religious lines between India and Pakistan. Conflict resumed as a result of that. I’m not sure I fully understand all of the historical connotations featured in the episode, but it was intriguing to discover and I found it quite an appealing part of the episode.

How all this connects this to Yaz’s character and family background is straight-forward. Yaz’s grandmother, Amita Suman as Umbreen and Shane Zaza as Prem (whom Yaz didn’t know about before venturing into finding out about her nani) are about to get married. The two lovers are of varying religions.

Umbreen is a Muslin and Prem is a Hindu. The intermarriage of both Umbreen and Prem is sacrilege, especially in the eyes of Prem’s little brother, Hamza Jeetooa as Manish. Violence and prejudice is caused because of this and it all leads to Prem getting killed because of his intermarriage to Umbreen.

Now you may think this all sounds too historical and not exciting enough to be a ‘Doctor Who’ episode. But there are aliens involved in the episode. These happen to be the Thijarians that were once deadly assassins before they became observers to witness the deaths of many unseen people.

There are two Thiljarian aliens in the episode, including Nathalie Curzner as Kisar with Emma Fielding doing the voice and Barbara Fadden as Almak with Isobel Middleton doing the voice. It was intriguing how the Thilajarians turned out not to be assassins as they were originally assumed to be.

I must admit I was a little disappointed that the Thijarians weren’t actually the ‘demons’ or evil monsters that caused trouble and that they actually ended up being those who honoured dead ones instead. But it was an intriguing twist to see here as the real monsters for this episode are…humans!

A lot of the historical aspects of the episode were interesting to discover and I’m glad it didn’t go over-the-top with aliens changing things in the Earth’s timeline since they were being observers. The Doctor and her friends also managed to perform the same function and not interfere with anything.

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor was a joy to watch in the episode. Throughout the episode, I found how chirpy and funny she could be, even in moments when trying to figure out who the aliens were and what they were doing on Earth. She also seems to be a quiet observer and responsible tackling history.

She’s insistent towards her friends, Graham; Ryan and especially Yaz that they shouldn’t interfere with history. When Jodie’s Doctor needs to be serious defying; telling off or confronting people like Manish, she’s serious. It’s almost like the Doctor is making up for the many mistakes made in the previous era.

I also liked it when Jodie’s Doctor got to officiate Umbreen and Prem’s wedding in the episode, which is an unusual change. She even had a little flower in her hair at the ceremony. Cute! 😀 It was also rather funny when the Doctor blurts out she never did pre-wedding ceremonies when she was a man.

Honestly, I found it funny. 😀 I liked it when Jodie’s Doctor overcame the Thiljarian’s mind attacks and utilised their technology by stealing it for her and her friends’ means. I liked it when Jodie’s Doctor closed her eyes after Prem was killed in the episode. It demonstrates how compassionate she can be.

Mandip Gill was great to watch as Yaz in the episode. I like how she discovers meeting her nani was not exactly what she was hoping for and that her nani didn’t turn out to be the way she expected. I was hoping for more interaction between Yaz and the younger Umbreen during the episode though.

Bradley Walsh as Graham is very good in the episode. I like how his wry sense of humour slips in from time to time in the episode and I did enjoy that scene he had with Yaz when she was feeling low. Graham seems to be more encouraging compared to being very cautious in his first TV appearance.

Tosin Cole is equally good as Ryan in the episode. I don’t think Ryan has a strong outing in this particular episode as it more or less focuses on Yaz really. But I liked it when Ryan gets to join the Doctor as they with Prem investigate the Thiljarins’ spaceship and find information about the aliens.

At this point, I do like how the TARDIS regulars have developed into likeable characters in Series 11. Yes, there are restrictions with having four regular characters having equal amounts to do in single standalone episodes of new ‘Doctor Who’. But I feel the Doctor and her friends do work well for me.

It was interesting to see the final night parties before the wedding with the Doctor and Yaz joining the ladies and Graham and Ryan joining the blokes. I also found it intriguing how fiercely determined Yaz’s younger version of her nani, Umbreen, was into marrying Prem no matter what in the episode.

The production team have been very daring so far with filming in locations outside the UK since this TV episode was filmed in the Province of Granada, Spain. The incidental music for this episode by Segun Akinola was so effective to listen to, especially during the end credits which is better than ‘Rosa’.

‘Demons of the Punjab’ has been an enjoyable and emotional episode to watch with some strong character development throughout. I found the historical educational aspects to the episode appealing. I also feel the new ‘Doctor Who’ series has echoes of the William Hartnell era from the 60s.

This is especially the case with the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz as a TARDIS foursome as well as having a blend of sci-fi and historical adventures. Not that’s a bad thing as the TARDIS regulars have been fun and likeable to watch in Series 11. I am hopeful things will be better for the rest of this series.

I have to tell you though. I found it a struggle to start writing this review as I felt pretty emotional from the character drama featured in it. It is an episode that does make you think about prejudice and love. I had to spend an hour before getting onto writing this review. It show how very effective Series 11 is.

Next week’s episode is called ‘Kerblam!’ by Pete McTighe.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Demons of the Punjab’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Brilliant review Tim, it moved me & shows how prejudice can be toxic by turning brother against brother, this was a emotional brilliantly acted episode, the tone of S11 is completely different & refreshing from the pantomime Moffat era, I feel these stories have dramatic depth & emotion, I’m bit concerned at lack of main villains & universal threat as I find its the missing piece to a otherwise excellent series.

    Sorry to be barer of bad news but Stan Lee passed away aged 95, I’m gutted man was a true legend & nice guy he’ll be missed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Demons of the Punjab’.

      I’m glad this episode moved you and you found the prejudice theme; acting and emotion very compelling and effective. I honestly do feel that this new era of ‘Doctor Who’ is a response to the Steven Moffat era with toning down the silly aspects to the series that weren’t needed. I find the character drama and writing compelling and can only hope it will get better by the time we come to the season finale and the special 11th episode.

      Yeah it does seem to be lacking in main villains and universal threats for this season. Maybe that’ll get made up for in the season finale as I have a hunch every villain we’ve seen in this season will meet up in the final episode of Series 11. It would be great if there were classic monsters like Daleks and Cybermen for Jodie’s Doctor to come up against. It might be something dealt with in Series 12, although the theme of this season has been about rascism and prejudice especially in the historical episodes. So maybe we might me an appearance of Daleks in the final episode of Series 11 or in the special 11th episode whether it’d be for Christmas Day 2018 or New Year’s Day 2019. I would love it if they did a sequel to the Peladon stories with the Ice Warriors involved with Jodie’s Doctor and team. They’ve got to do that story at some point surely. 😀

      I’m looking forward to the special Children In Need thing that seems to be coming up for the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz this Friday. I’ve seen a photo of the TARDIS team with Pudsey Bear. I wonder what it’ll be – either an actual scene in the TARDIS or a TARDIS tour guide.

      Yeah I’m saddened Stan Lee has passed away this year. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on that in a blog post later today at 12pm.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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