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.