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< 11.5 - The Tsuranga Conundrum
11.7 - Kerblam! >

11.6 - Demons of the Punjab

Rating Votes
10
23%
10
9
23%
10
8
28%
12
7
9%
4
6
7%
3
5
2%
1
4
2%
1
3
0%
0
2
0%
0
1
5%
2
Average Rating
8.0
Votes
43
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Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
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10
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Replay Rating:
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Reviewed By: PilordeReview Date: 12/17/18 8:28 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Doctor Who, at first, was supposed to be educationnal. Than, it started to be about avdentures. Then, it was a show of hope.

This episode has all three: it is strong, it'll make you cry, it'll make you consider how humans can be so cruel and stupid and teach you a lot (I'm french so we don't talk at all about India and Pakistan in history class). That's what I love in Doctor Who.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
1
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1
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NR
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10
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Reviewed By: Silence Will FallReview Date: 11/27/18 8:52 pm
1 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Boring, boring, boring. And yes, I know that this story is much more character-focused, and as such, the plot will naturally move much slower. But the characters that the focus were put on were some of the blandest, most uninteresting and most poorly acted characters I have ever seen in Doctor Who (not as bad as Arachnids in the UK however). We were clearly meant to feel some emotional attachment to them, as the whole story focuses on the tragedies that Umbreen has lived through, a wedding, a religious dispute between 2 brothers and the inevitable death of one of the characters. And none of it is done well because the characters are so bland. Even the final confrontation between Manesh and Prehm was hugely underwhelming and simply consisted of cliched extremist views and constant whining. Honestly, it just got tedious. Now when you first enter this story, you may wonder what on Earth I'm talking about, as the Doctor immediately suffers a psychic attack, the characters see 'Demons' and there's a thrilling moment where Team TARDIS runs after the 'Demons' through some Punjabi forests. Savour that moment, becuase it doesn't pick up again until the final 5 minutes, and even then, it lasts only about 40 seconds. But yes, as I say, the Doctor and co hunt for the 'Demons' and immediately discover that they are a race named the 'Thijarians', before finding a cheap way to exclude the Thijarians from most of the remaining story. What writer Vinay Patel seemed to forget, is that he still had about 30 or 35 minutes of screen time left to fill.

And this leads into the dull and immensely draggy story that we see before us. But aside from a rushed beginning and terrible characters, what else did Demons of the Punjab suffer from? Well how about the titular demons themselves, the Thijarians. Unlike most people, I wasn't hugely bothered that they weren't actually the story's main antagonists, mainly because it was very predictable. but what bothered me is how inconsequential they were to the story. If they had been removed, the difference would've been...? All that would have come about if they'd been removed is more chance to focus on the dangers of the time, which is the thing that I think could've boosted Demons of the Punjab up from terrible to average, or even on the verge of being a good story. When I saw the epic visuals of Manesh's fellow extremists riding swiftly towards the barn on their horses, wielding blades, preparing to hunt down Umbreen, he mother and Prehm, I thought to myself: "Finally. The story is actually utilising the period (the Partition of India) and its dangers, but lo and behold, there was only 5 minutes left! And then we went into the whole rubbish confrontation between Manesh and Prehm, followed by Prehm getting shot (finally) and the story ending.

So... yeah. Wasted the period it was set in, useless monsters that felt like a cheap and lazy way to avoid being a pure historical, boring and hollow characters and some terrible pacing issues give this story a grand total of 1/10. I find it highly unlikely that ANY other story of S11 will be lower in my rankings than the hideously overrated Demons of the Punjab, but judging by upcoming synopses, past experience and the regulars' slowly devolving performances, I won't be too surprised if any, or even all of the next 4 stories somehow get into minus figures. On the positive side, Kerblam! looks like a nice, traditional DW story, so that should be a breath of fresh air from Chibnall's producership.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 11/27/18 3:44 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

'Demons' takes us back into the realm of history as the TARDIS team travels back in time to India 1947 in order to help Yaz get in touch with her grandmother and a hidden history that influences her family to this day. Unfortunately, they've landed on Partition Day, the day upon which India was divided into two independent dominions by the British into India and Pakistan and violently displaced millions of people. In a powder keg of tension that threatens to overflow into Yaz's family, it doesn't help that something else is stalking the forests of the Punjab with a seemingly dark and alien intention. It's a story that closely resembles an earlier episode in the season "Rosa" in terms of theme and intention. But the plot ends up feeling very much like "Father's Day" from Eccleston's era in that the resolution is based on the main cast doing nothing as tragedy hits and time takes its natural course. It gives us a romance plot with the background of history and once again the alien threat is displaced in favor of a deeply personal human struggle with desperate stakes for all involved. It's not a bad thing but the more that time goes by with this season, I do begin to see that it does have a villain problem to a degree. That's not to say that there aren't demons in this story which don't play a big role in the story but they aren't what we are led to believe and the story flips things on its head about two-thirds of the way giving us a much more realistic rendition of demons in this world. This twist ends up being the saving grace for the plot as it makes the setting feel much more realĀ and it makes the natural ending that it all leads so much more tragic. The main cast continues to be good even if some of them feel a little underused again. Jodie Whittaker and Bradley Walsh once again take the spotlight for me as both get plenty of stronger moments to shine in speeches and words. Tosin Cole doesn't get too much to do but does work well in his role. The big surprise for me was Mandip Gill's Yaz in that while the story is entirely based around her and her history, she doesn't play a gigantic role in what's going on. Even in bringing about the crux of the story, she ends up taking a backseat and ending up either confused or emotional with no real action at play. It's a shame because Gill is certainly trying her best and you can tell the season is doing its best to give her something to do but she ends up feeling like the spare part in the story even in her own story. Still, this episode is pretty good all things considered giving us a very bible-esque story that accurately conveys the drama of the Partition and the devastation it has on the people affected by it. While some of the bigger elements that bring about the drama do feel like a forced-in afterthought and it again brings the villain problem of the season into sharp relief, there are a lot of powerful moments, gorgeous landscapes, and memorable words from the cast that save it from being bad. Also, give credit to Akinola's score in that the end credits are played over a Punjabi style version of the theme which was something I didn't immediately catch. All in all, "Demons of the Punjab" isn't perfect but it's still damn good and another great historical for the season that continues to bring the show back to its roots.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 11/27/18 1:16 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This pseudo historical adventure has the TARDIS travelling to India during the historical and tragic events of partition when India and Pakistan were split and huge numbers of people were displaced and killed. In a microcosm of those dreadful events the Doctor and her companions are caught up in a family wedding where the groom's brother is supporting the violence and division. Meanwhile mysterious and scary aliens are appearing and a holy man is killed.


First and foremost this is an excellent, entertaining and involving story with a superb new alien race being introduced. It is very well acted and does not feature the heavy handed dialogue problems which had increasingly crept in to the previous 3 or 4 episodes. The script here is excellent and dialogue is mostly convincing. Jodie Whittaker is back on form after a diminished performance in the previous episode and Bradley Walsh is brilliant as he has been all series. Yasmin is put at the centre of this story and her acting and character development is very good. Ryan continues to be a solid and endearing character too. Guest characters are three dimensional with very strong and involving characterisations. There is a very moving aspect to this which very much suited its original UK broadcast on Remembrance Day. The effects of war, loss and the importance of remembering the dead are thoughtfully presented.

In keeping with the rest of series 11 this episode looks fantastic with superb location filming and cinematography as well as great alien design and other effects. The music also continues to impress with excellent, atmospheric Indian style music and even an Indian style rendition of the Doctor Who theme music over the end credits.

The only real downside to this story for me was the idea of the Doctor taking Yasmin to her grandmother's past to find out what went on and happening to find out alien presence during those events. It is not illogical but comes across as an unlikely coincidence as well as being a risk for the Doctor in terms of possibly altering known family history. I would have preferred if the TARDIS took them to those events in an unplanned journey, perhaps telepathically sensing the link to Yasmin. They could have realised the girl was Yasmin's grandmother at some stage and the damaged watch could have been shown in a flashback of Yasmin's grandmother giving her the watch years earlier, perhaps before passing away. This would have been a smoother way of presenting the events I think. Anyway as it is not illogical, only coincidental, I do not see it as a major problem just a minor element which could have been better.

The 'demons' (Thijarians) are a superbly realised alien race. They would make superb villains in future stories perhaps. They look great, they are suitably sinister and scary and are given some depth. There is a twist which shows these Thijarians are not evil assassins which is a good twist and serves the story well. Other factions of this race could still exist who continue their evil assassin ways of the past or indeed Thijarians from their own past could still appear as villains in future stories.

Before this episode aired people who were commenting negatively about the direction of the show under new showrunner Chris Chibnall were stating this would be a political correctness sermon projecting anti British Empire views. In fact, there was no judgement made about empire and political correctness was not a feature. Those wishing to attack the show still criticise it as politically correct for some reason but in reality these criticisms are not based in any fact where this episode is concerned. The episode is actually about division and hatred which is not a politically correct agenda about race or gender but a humanitarian agenda perhaps allegorically referring to division in our society today over the UK planning to leave the European Union and other countries such as USA also facing a lot of polarising division. It is not making judgements on one view or another but it is about people having human decency and not needing to resort to hatred and violence which has always been a repeated theme in Doctor Who since it first began, for instance the First Doctor story 'The Massacre'. The themes are dealt with very well here.

Overall an excellent episode: 9.5/10