Doctor Who Discussion: “Demons of the Punjab” and “Kerblam!”

Our reviewer has fallen behind, so we’re going to post a discussion of the last two episodes of Doctor Who, Series 11.

“Demons of the Punjab” gives us a fairly typical Doctor Who “aliens in a past era” episode, except for two notable twists. The first is that we’re not in England‘s past, even if the time and place hold some significance to British history. The second is one of the things that makes this episode interesting.

“Kerblam!” looks at the implications of our latest retail models and future AI developments. It has an interesting premise, and Whittaker remains a standout Doc, but something about this one left me cold.

Anyone else have opinions?

“Demons…” also raises a familiar conundrum to readers / viewers of time travel: why don’t people who encounter future acquaintances / relatives in the past remember them when they meet again? I’ve encountered stories where they do, or at least find the people familiar, but it’s amazing how often those past encounters get ignored.

5 replies on “Doctor Who Discussion: “Demons of the Punjab” and “Kerblam!””

  1. It’s Thanksgiving day in the US (Happy holiday to all Bureaucrats, foreign and domestic) which means it’s a day off, and feels like a weekend. I am very upset that we are still days away from the new episode.

  2. Kerblam! had me smelling cybermen for a good portion of it. Major points for the villain turning out not to be cybermen. Sure, it was basically standard cliché #5, but, still.

    For Demons of the Punjab, that one felt very much like the historicals from the 1960s with a modern alien twist, but in this case, the aliens were neither antagonists nor villains.

    As far as recognizing someone from the past, would you really make the connection after all that time? Would it even occur to you that it might be the same person if you were not already aware of time travel? Or would you just assume that it was someone who just looked strikingly similar or that your memory was faulty or something like that?

    I also kind of wonder if the Tardis doesn’t exert some sort somebody else’s problem field around the travellers.

    • There’s a person you meet. That face looks vaguely familiar, like it was related to you, but it’s a new face.

      Decades later, your kid has a baby. The baby, so looks like a shriveled smurf, not like anyone you met for two days, because, as mentioned, it’s is a baby. After decades of looking at that face, it gradually and painfully slowly grows to look like a face you saw years and years ago. It doesn’t look as much like that face you vaguely remember as it does like the face of the person you’ve seen every day since it first popped out of your daughter, so why would you ever think to equate the two unless a photo happens to pop up?

      Something similar happened to us. My Mother-in-law came to visit and brought old class photos of my wife from elementary school. The first grade class photo of my wife looks identical to my first-grade daughter. They look alike, since they’re family, but we never think they’re twins, and we never thought “Hey, the way you looked that one day decades ago is identical to our daughter!”

      • Of course.

        But the three Brits, one black and two white, who turned up at a critical moment in you history wearing unusual clothing? I think you’d wonder, even if you rejected time travel out of hand.

        (And let’s not get started on the McFly family).

        The Time Traveler’s Wife features an interesting take on that, with one of the traveler’s displaced appearances. They don’t exactly assume it’s the same person, but they’re disturbed.

  3. Demons of the Punjab may be my favourite episode of Doctor Who. And I don’t mean of this series, I mean of the show. It was just so well done. First, it deals with a very similar topic as Rosa except it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. And the atmosphere was fantastic. The cinematography and the music worked together extremely well. The aliens made sense, including their initial behaviour and the timing of their decision to come clean.

    The performances were good, too (as usual) and it was nice to finally get a Yaz-focused episode.

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