‘THE GHOST MONUMENT’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Danger on Desolation
After the exciting start to Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’ with Jodie Whittaker in ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, I was looking forward to finding out what the next episode would be like. Would it be good as the first?
Will I enjoy the story and the characters? Would I get flummoxed by anything? Well, let’s take a look! The season continues with the second episode called ‘The Ghost Monument’ by Chris Chibnall.
We go straight into the opening titles with new theme music arrangement by Segun Akinola! I love the new ‘Doctor Who’ opening titles and theme music. It was good seeing it as it wasn’t in the first story.
The titles sequence got me very excited. It has elements of the original William Hartnell titles from the 1960s as well as traces of Jon Pertwee’s from the 1970s when travelling through the time vortex.
By the way, is it me or does the time vortex have an underwater feel to it in the opening titles? The theme music is good, as it echoes the Delia Derbyshire theme from the classic series with a new spin.
Most of this episode was filmed in South Africa to create the planet of the Desolation. It looks impressive and makes you think you are on an alien planet. The cinematic feel assists to that effect.
Anyway, the episode begins where we left off in the previous episode. Our four heroes, the Doctor; Graham; Ryan and Yaz are in space before they are rescued by two pilots in some kind of space race.
Graham and Ryan get rescued by Susan Lynch as Angstrom whilst the Doctor and Yaz get rescued by Shaun Dooley as Epzo. It is interesting how the episode begins with the Doctor and friends rescued.
It seemed like we were going to have two subplots with Graham and Ryan on one ship and the Doctor and Yaz on another. I expected the groups to be separate from each other most of this story.
Thankfully that didn’t occur. Though had this episode been a four-parter in the classic series, it would’ve accommodated that aspect of the tale with people separating before reuniting at the end.
I must admit, there did seem to be a lot going on with some panic in the early part of the episode. But thankfully, I was able to follow the story without any problem while I was watching this episode.
Even my parents didn’t find it difficult as they were able to enjoy it and follow the story. This surprised me. I expected them to be flummoxed. Thankfully this is a new era with a fresh approach.
There is a story and main characters to enjoy without any complicating factors to get in the way. Some would disagree with me on that viewpoint, but I personally found the adventure entertaining.
The Doctor and her companions meet up with each other along with Angstrom and Epzo on the planet simply known as the Desolation. Angstrom and Epzo are in the race to win some certain prize.
Our heroes meet up with a certain race organiser, Art Malik as Ilin, who sets up the challenge. Ilin, who happens to be a hologram, says our heroes must reach something called the Ghost Monument.
Once reached, one will win the race and acquire the prize. The Ghost Monument of course happens to be…the TARDIS! Oh thank goodness! I thought we would never see that police box ever again! 😀
The two pilots, Angstrom and Epzo, aren’t exactly a friendly bunch. The two are in competition with each other. Epzo is ruthless than Angstrom is and it was quite horrifying to hear his backstory in this.
Epzo shares the story from his past where his mother had him fall down to the ground from a tree and injure himself. He doesn’t seem to care and does not believe having other people around helps.
Angstrom is not a very sociable person either, especially when Yaz tries to chat up with her. There are traces of compassion in her character, but like Epzo, she does seem keen to get her prize in this.
She’s also determined to not let her competitor win. But is she just as greedy as Epzo? Will Angstrom have a trace of decency in her character? Perhaps she’ll support the Doctor and friends occasionally.
I like our main heroes in this episode. Jodie Whittaker is very good as the Doctor. She comes across as energetic, especially when working things out. She’s also very caring and looks out for her friends.
She’s determined to get them back home once she finds the TARDIS. I enjoyed her Venusian aikido moment. There are also occasions when she can let out her anger at times, especially towards Ryan.
This is when he tries to use a gun to fight the Sniperbots. I like how Jodie’s Doctor abhors violence as much as her previous incarnations did. She refuses to use a gun and prefers alternative approaches.
Bradley Walsh is very good as Graham in the episode. He does come across as the cautious type among the Thirteenth Doctor group and can often be quite negative as well as flummoxed at times.
But despite that, Graham seems willing to put his trust in the Doctor to return him, Ryan and Yaz home. Graham even tries to put his mechanic skills to use when he and Ryan try to fix some boat. 😀
I liked it when Graham was given shades by the Doctor to wear on the hot sunny planet. It was intriguing how Graham’s relationship with Ryan develops in the tale when he tries to connect to him.
Tosin Cole is equally good as Ryan in this episode. As well as that moment when Ryan hastily uses a gun to shoot at the Sniperbots, his dyspraxia gets touched upon when he is about to climb a ladder.
The Doctor gives words of encouragement to Ryan to help him climb up a ladder. This is after the Doctor ‘had a go’ on Ryan earlier on. Ryan does seem unwilling to accept Graham as a ‘grandfather’.
I did wonder how this was going to progress in the series, especially as Ryan’s nan Grace died recently. He doesn’t seem willing to talk to Graham about it. I liked how Ryan and Yaz bond though.
Mandip Gill is also very good as Yaz in the episode. I know it was argued that her character was a bit underused in the previous episode and the same can be said for here. But I do like Yaz in the series.
I like how Yaz’s family background gets touched upon in the episode. She even assists the Doctor on board Epzo’s spaceship. I did enjoy Yaz’s reaction to being on board a spaceship when she wakes up.
She comes across a nice person as well as Graham and Ryan. I like how she shares a bond with Ryan in this episode. I wasn’t sure whether Ryan and Yaz’s relationship would be progressed further here.
The Sniperbots do seem terrifying as robot monsters in the episode. This is especially when they’re on sentry duty in the ruins of a former civilisation and when they fire on the Doctor and her friends.
I wished we could’ve seen more of those robots in the episode as they did seem really terrifying. Little did I know that they would come back later on in Series 11, but that’s a story for another time.
There are also the Remnants, voiced by Ian Gelder. Oh! He was in the ‘Torchwood’ story ‘Children of Earth’! These Remnants are sentient shroud-like creatures that are the result of bio-engineering apparently.
The Remnants also have this connection to the Stenza, which is the name of the alien species Tzim-Sha/Tim Shaw belonged to. They also know the Doctor’s secret of ‘the timeless child’, whatever it is.
I liked how the story ended with the TARDIS not seeming to be there at the end of the race and the Doctor becomes distraught. It is then that Angstrom and Epzo are about to claim the prize from Ilin.
The Doctor suggests to Angstrom and Epzo that they should claim a joint victory. Ilin is unwilling at first but after Angstrom and Epzo persuade him, it manages to work and the two get off this planet.
But the Doctor and her friends are left behind. The Doctor is apologetic to her friends that she didn’t fulfil her promise in getting them back home. But Graham; Ryan and Yaz don’t give up on the Doctor.
They seem very willing to wait until her TARDIS turns up. I must say, I really like how these three companions of the Thirteenth Doctor have come across as likeable characters so far during Series 11.
Graham, Ryan and Yaz truly display the qualities that companions should be. They don’t complain a lot and they seem willing to put their trust in the Doctor, even when bad things seem to be going on.
Thankfully though, the TARDIS does reappear and the Doctor uses her sonic screwdriver to bring the ship back. I was so pleased to see the TARDIS again. I thought we were going to have to wait so long.
Thankfully not! The Doctor can’t go without her TARDIS, can she?! And of course we get to see inside the Thirteenth Doctor’s TARDIS and what the console room looks like. And I must say…I really love it!
I love the new TARDIS console room! I honestly do! It has echoes of the Russell T. Davies era TARDIS console room about it, in appearing to be almost organic and having an almost crimson quality to it.
I really like the reactions given by the Doctor’s companions, Graham; Ryan and Yaz when they see the inside of the Doctor’s TARDIS. They’re in awe and are impressed by it, as companions should be.
I liked the build up to the TARDIS interior reveal and it is one of my favourite scenes from the entire episode. I liked it when the Doctor started setting the TARDIS in flight to get her friends back home.
She pulls levers and presses a pedal to which pops out…I didn’t know what it was at first as Jodie took a bite from it, but it was a custard cream – Jodie’s favourite biscuit. Are there any bourbons? 😀
‘The Ghost Monument’ has been a great episode to watch from Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’. It did have a lot going on at the start with it all being panic stations and such for our leads and guest stars.
But once that was out of the way, I was able to get into enjoying the rest of the episode without a problem, liking the story and the characters in it. It is something that I didn’t expect for a long while.
My favourite bits from ‘The Ghost Monument’ are the new opening ‘Doctor Who’ titles with the new theme music as well as the reveal of the new TARDIS interior. I also really like the new TARDIS team.
I was really getting into the Thirteenth Doctor; Graham; Ryan and Yaz as characters. I was looking forward to seeing more of them, wondering what adventures they’ll have for the rest of the season.
The DVD/Blu-ray special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 1 of ‘The Complete Series 11’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s ‘The Ghost Monument’ – Closer Look’ featurette.
‘The Ghost Monument’ rating – 8/10
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