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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 8: The Witchfinders

November 26th, 2018 by Todd Black Comments

The problem that Doctor Who sometimes has as a series is that it will inevitably feature a plotline that has literally been done to death, and yet they’ll try and figure out a way to make it feel special and unique. Ironically, one of the other shows I review here, Legends of Tomorrow, did just that with their episode “Witch Hunt”, but sadly, “The Witchfinders” couldn’t make that same thing happen.

The Doctor and friends were trying to find the coronation of Elizabeth the First, but instead found their way to the time of King James I (1600’s), and right in the middle of a witch trial.

On the surface, this seems like a perfect Doctor Who episode, especially with all the misogyny and hate going around, but unlike “Witch Hunt”, it was hard to find any emotional connection with any of the characters save for the Doctor and King James. And the villains were as throwaway as you can get, leaving the plot twist at the end very wasted.

I’m sure the writers were once again trying to show how the past was a but a stepping stone for what we are now as a world with all the hate and lies that are going around. But “Rosa” and “Demons In Punjab” did a much better job tying it together. And did we really need another message about hate and finding peace with one another?

Becca herself was the personification of the Witch Trials, doing baseless “tests” to prove if one was a witch, and both “tests” ending in death either way. All of which was a front for her own fear because she thought she “let Satan in”, it was really grating by the end.

The only lively part of the episode was Alan Cummings as King James. He was a delight to watch, and they really made him look like the late King of England and Scotland. Hearing how his tragic past led to him fighting for the Lord and “his work” was actually a very good story device, as was his desire to do good in the face of not understanding all that was going on. But even Cummings couldn’t carry it all.

In the end, this was just another look back at the witch trials, albeit from the English perspective and not the American one. It’s still the same result though, and honestly, it made “The Witchfinders” the worst episode of the season. Let’s hope it picks back up as we only have two episodes left (and the confirmed New Year’s Special!).

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Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians (guardians-comic.com). He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!