Doctor Who Review – “The Ghost Monument”

Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor, with three new companions, and one less TARDIS.

Cast and Crew

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor
Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien
Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan

Directed by Mark Tonderai
Written by new showrunner Chris Chibnall

Original Airdate

The Ghost Monument originally aired on Sunday, October 14, 2018.


The Doctor and her companions pick up in the dire straits we saw them in at the end of the previous episode, but are “coincidentally” saved in time to get swept up in a race. They learn more about each other, the planet they are on, and the race they encountered last week by the time it’s all said and done.

High Point

Brains beat bullets.

Low Point

The levels of coincidence are a little thick here. Now, once we learn the true nature of the Ghost Monument, we understand that the life saving coincidence we open with is much less coincidental, but then we learn the true nature of the planet and another coincidence gets thrown into the mix. I may change my mind by the time the larger story arc unfolds all the way, but at the present, it feels a little cheap.

The Review

This feels original, not just because of the new Doctor, but because of the new planet and the new threat to more than just the Doctor. I see numerous breadcrumbs that can launch a season long story arc, and I’m hungry for them. The “hunt for the TARDIS” element is also a pleasant new element. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects are mostly well done. There is something about CGI fabric that just doesn’t look like real fabric, so certain story elements were not quite as surprising as they should have been, but they were mostly impressive. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is quite engaging. There is a very real feel to this world and the racers involved. In fact, one thing that has been done well in both episodes of this new era is making it feel like we are glimpsing full lives of complete, multi-dimensional characters in a well populated world. This was more pronounced last week, but both episodes feel in many ways like the Doctor is just a guest star in someone else’s story because the worlds are so rich. Like last week, the character and world building is great, but the actual plot itself is a little bit thin. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is well done. Aside from Troughton and Smith, nobody has really knocked their Doctor out of the park with a fully realized performance right from the outset, and last week’s script didn’t give Whittaker much opportunity to truly put her stamp on it, but that’s coming in now. This is the episode that really feels like Whittaker is showing us who her Doctor is, and I like what I see. The guest cast feel like an equally realized ensemble cast, and that’s a very good thing. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is fairly strong. The Low Point still grates, and I liked the idea of hunting for the TARDIS enough that I’m honestly disappointed that the hunt is already over, but it’s not the show’s fault that I had that expectation. The reference to Jon Pertwee’s era was also a welcome callback, letting us know that the history is important and respected, even though it’s an all new cast and set of villains. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production is well done. It feels a little slow because of the emphasis on character rather than plot, but I can’t point to any moment that was without purpose. The new version of the theme song is moving well away from strings and into deeper frequencies, completely changing the feel in a way that I haven’t warmed up to yet. It’s not objectively bad, but it’s certainly unexpected, so I can’t quite say if I’m not a fan because of the music itself or just because of my own personal preferences and expectations. (Prior to this, I’ve applauded most BBC productions for their lack of dependence on bass registers, and this dives head first into that exact part of the audio spectrum.) I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s enjoyable enough, but in a lot of ways it feels more like a chapter in a serialized adventure than it feels like a standalone thing. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, The Ghost Monument receives 34 out of 42.

5 replies on “Doctor Who Review – “The Ghost Monument””

  1. I have to say that overall, Whittaker’s performance seems to have brought in elements of all previous Doctors to one degree or another. It seems like the scripts have also taken pains to bring in such elements, too. If things keep going the way they are, I can easily foresee Whittaker being the hands-down best Doctor. I actually said during this week’s episode that Whittaker came across as “the” Doctor, meaning that everything seems to just gel with what came before.

  2. It also says that if you hold a lungful of air, you can survive in the total vacuum of space for about 30 seconds. But with space being really big and all, the chances of being picked up within that time are 22,079,460,347 to one against.

    Actually, my low point was the assassin-bots. These guys couldn’t hit a Red Shirt. The Imperial Stormtroopers are more precise. Sheesh.

    The plot was kind of slight and totally predictable, but it was fun, and I would agree that Whittaker is nailing it as the new Doctor.

    • > Actually, my low point was the assassin-bots. These guys couldn’t hit a Red Shirt. The Imperial Stormtroopers are more precise. Sheesh.

      They were specifically referred to as “sniper-bots”. Naturally they can’t hit anything that’s close to them.

  3. RE the low point

    Everything I have read and heard about this season is that this season is a bunch of loosely connected stand alone stories rather than an overall arc. That in itself is troubling for me seeing how this is proceeding.

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