Thoughts on Doctor Who The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

It’s Doctor Who season finale time, folks! Within, there be spoilers!

I think you all know the score by now.

I hate spoilers, hate spoiling anything for anyone. So on the very slim chance that you’ve landed here before watching The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos, here, have some spoiler space to avoid getting anything ruined for you.

Yeah, I think I prefer the new arrangement more too.

  • So, given I’ll be able to watch the New Year’s Day episode of Doctor Who as it airs (as it happens, I’ll be in the UK), I guess this will be my last dalliance with watching Bluey beforehand. Unless, of course, I petition the BBC to air it before the UK episodes. That’s got to be worth a try, right?
  • Yeah, I’m still going on about Bluey running before the main ABC screening. Some things never change. Also, Bluey’s House totally looks like a level out of Fantasy Zone for the Sega Master System. No, it DOES. And Dad’s hat should not be a salad bowl.
  • The previous last sentence will make ZERO sense if you’re not watching this in Australia. And once again, I simply don’t care.
  • As with my other reviews this season, I’m writing this as I’m watching, so it’s very much stream of consciousness. It’s also given me something of an idea. More on that later.
  • This season has been a joy of family watching — on both sides of the planet. Which is what Doctor Who should be. Sure, it can be scary and explore complex concepts, but it should also be something that brings the family together.
  • Once again, a Rove promo for the ABC (generally) beforehand. So hopefully, no Whovians plug afterwards. Here’s hoping…
  • Diddly dum… diddly dum… Despite saying I was going to make the new theme arrangement my phone ringtone, I still haven’t done so. Bad Alex! Bad Alex! (not to be confused with Bad Wolf)
  • It’s set in… A QUARRY! Feels very classic Who.
  • The rock creature being built might be Eldrad for all I know now, but it looks very much like one of the enemies in Breath of the Wild. My mind forgets which one, but still, it’s uncanny…
  • It’s the planet of the rage trips! And it’s all but certain that somebody — probably Ryan — will lose his having brought up the possibility. Probably by force, what with it being the planet of rage trips.
  • We’re playing the pronoun game! (Yeah, I might have been watching a little too much CinemaSins)
  • How the heck do Ryan, Yaz and Graham know how to use an alien database interface? I mean, the odds that it’s running Windows 10 or macOS seem… low.  Even if part of the interface is one of those newton’s cradle executive stress toys.
  • I may be the only one thinking “Paltracki” probably has a brother “NSTCTracki”, right? #OldSchoolTVFormatsJokesAhoy
  • Of all the callbacks, I’m not sure that we needed the Stenza one. Even for the season “finale”. I do like the first episode plenty (see below for my rankings), but as villains go, they’re definitely an “of the week” type, and not much more. Maybe the longer narrative will help me out here.
  • Mind you, if Graham loses his cool despite his neural balancer, that could get interesting…
  • Yep, “If that is the creature from Sheffield, I will kill it, if I can”. There’s a good narrative hook, right there. Or at least, it could be.
  • I’m not enjoying this quarry. Pretty sure they’re just filming opposite sides of it to try to give it breadth it just doesn’t have.
  • Paltracki’s totally doomed, isn’t he?
  • The macguffin appears to be a desk fan embedded in an oversized Metebelis 3 crystal. Or maybe part of the Key To Time. Not one of the new series finest props, overall.
  • And now we’ve become something of an Alien remake, what with the lighting and moody thumping music. 
  • “She actually liked being alive, and she was really good at it.” Actually, and this might seem kind of harsh, Graham, but no. She wasn’t. By definition.
  • What, too soon?
  • Stupid robots that shoot each other. That’s a Futurama-worthy gag, right there.
  • “The congress of the nine planets” sounds like some next-level Kama Sutra action.  Which really isn’t appropriate for a family show!
  • Graham just happens to find the light switch, and not the one that disintegrates the crew. Yeah, I’m not exactly buying this so far.
  • 3,407 years? That’s a doddle. Just ask the Family of Blood about what The Doctor can do when she’s really cranky.
  • A revenge plot that hinges on the off-chance that The Doctor would turn up on the planet?  How long was TimShaw willing to wait?
  • More pronoun games… and… The Ux. The Ooks? No, those are librarians. Until I get a proper spelling, I’m calling them the Ux.  Which doesn’t feel like a great name for a species, really.
  • Oh, so it’s a darker version of The Pirate Planet! Yeah, that’ll get the Doc properly cranky.
  • And of course, because it’s a series finale, Earth has to be imperilled. Which does fit the general Who ethos of a series finale, I suppose.
  • TimShaw removes his tubes. If he could do that earlier, why didn’t he?
  • That pink beam’s giving the earth tooth decay, it seems.
  • The crew doesn’t have neural balancers — how are they not rage-filled maniacs?
  • “I’ve never met a race like them. They can affect the shape of the universe by thought.” The Doc has forgotten Logopolis, then…
  • Graham is SO lying about what he’s going to do, but then that was obvious 30 minutes ago.
  • Nice Ghost Monument callback. While we haven’t really had a thread this series, there’s been some decent continuity overall.
  • Eh, the neural balancers back on the Doctor and Yaz means that they’re narratively not that useful. 
  • At last, another species that can understand dimensional transcendentalism! Even if they are called the Ux. Ucks? 
  • TimShaw is going to be… wait for it… wait for it… hopping mad.
  • Yeah, that gag wasn’t worth it.
  • NO ROVE OVER THE END CREDITS! THANKYOU ABC!
  • So… another episode that I merely thought was “OK” rather than great. Even though it did play in some very classic Doctor Who territory, right down to the use of a cheap quarry!

Time for the final update my rundown of the episodes from best to… less best.

It’s Doctor Who, so it’s still good, or at least decent. Feel free to disagree in the comments below (if you must!). You can click (or tap) on each story name to read my writeup of that story too.

  1. Rosa
  2. The Woman Who Fell To Earth
  3. Demons of the Punjab
  4. The Witchfinders
  5. Arachnids in the UK
  6. It Takes You Away
  7. The Ghost Monument
  8. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
  9. The Tsuranga Conundrum
  10. Kerblam!

Next time: Resolution time, people!

Well, sadly — outside of the New Year’s Day special — that’s it for Doctor Who for this season. Indeed, once January 1 rolls around, that’ll be it for Doctor Who for an entire calendar year. The BBC has decided that the next full season won’t air until 2020. 

To which I say… cautiously… boo!

Drat and darn and I shall throw all my toys out of the pram and such! I am annoyed that there’s no “new” episodes for 2019, although if they can keep the quality up then maybe that’s the point.

But still… I’ve really liked writing these. They’re not making me a fortune or anything (although if you’d care to buy a book or something you’d make me very happy) but they’re a nice refreshing change from my day-to-day writing gig.

So here’s what I’m going to do, from next year.

I’m going to start back at Rose, and write up my thoughts, watching them through at the pace of one a week. Sure, I won’t have my old pal Bluey to watch beforehand, but there’s plenty of episodes to get through and tide me over until the next proper season of Doctor Who.

It’ll let me take a fresh view on both the classics and the clunkers. For every Dalek, there’s a (sigh) Love & Monsters, for example.

So join me from early 2019, as we travel back in time… to travel forwards in time. This timey-wimey stuff gets pretty confusing quickly, doesn’t it?

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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