If the first story of the new season was a little uncertain, the follow-up was tremendously thin and underpowered. Six characters flog through a series of barely-challenging ordeals, but in a way which one could have managed, and the pay-off at the end scarcely seems worth it.

Where to start with this one?

Well, why don’t we start with the South African locations and the truly excellent camerawork, masterminded by director Mark Tonderai. Say what you want about this episode (and I intend to) it looks absolutely fantastic. That goes for the new opening titles as well. Harking back to the 1960s howlround effects, but in full 3D, they look lovely and the new theme is growing on me as well, except for the strangely flatulent wheeze about seven second in.

What’s missing is a pre-titles teaser, which has been a feature of the show since it returned in 2005, and a feature of a great many television shows besides. It’s a good discipline, forcing creatives to have something compelling and arresting on screen in the first few minutes. I rather miss it now it’s gone.

We start, inevitably, with our heroes being rescued from deep space – the only resolution that cliffhanger could possibly have had – and therefore a bit pointless. The Doctor does nothing clever to get them out of it, and so we have to accept that two mercenaries, battling each other for glory, would both independently stop and snatch exactly two out of the four travellers out of the vacuum, on the feeble and unexplained pretext that they might be “bonuses”. This of course is shot down by Art Malik, and shortly afterwards, Shaun Dooley calls the regular cast “irrelevant”. Trouble is – he’s not wrong.

Splitting the leading characters into two teams is fairly routine stuff, and so there might have been some point to having them scooped up in this way, if they were going to remain separated from each other for much of the episode. It might have been a bit more interesting to see, for example, Yas, having to cope with being on an alien planet without the Doctor there to protect her. In fact, the whole team is reunited after only a few minutes (and a little lesson from the Prometheus School Of Running Away From Things). The result is that Yas, in particular, is drastically under-served. Graham and Ryan get a nice enough scene about poor dead Grace, but as I feared, this ends up casting a pall over proceedings, without actually confronting the ghastly nature of real grief.

The plot, when Art Malik laboriously spells it out for us, is that dreariest of sci-fi/fantasy clichés the Journey Through The Cave Of Traps, which is here dressed up some kind of competition or race. Trouble is, it never feels like a competition or a race. The two “competitors” are generally friendly and collaborative, cheerfully let the Doctor do most of the problem-solving, never once sabotage each other or play dirty, and never show the slightest bit of urgency, before during or after agreeing to call it a draw.

In fact, the whole thing feels limp, underplotted for the running time and generally a bit, well, thin, with Chekhov’s Cigar hugely well signposted and the Doctor’s insistence on not using guns, rather undermined by her easy use of lethal force in any case. And just why do robot sentries carry guns that can be fired by human hands?

What seemed like a new and interesting “arc” – the need to find the TARDIS – actually gets resolved by the end of the episode. And I’m not so annoyed by that. The Doctor needs her TARDIS, and so does the show. And the new prop and set look great. But such a swift and easy resolution contributes to the feeling that this whole story was fundamentally irrelevant. If at the end of The Woman Who Fell To Earth, the Doctor had built a gizmo that brought her the TARDIS, then not much would have changed. And that’s this story all over. Precious little in the way of characterisation, very low on incident or imagination and ultimately rather pointless.

The scenery really was nice though.

Two stars, and I’m genuinely anxious about next week now.

2 out of 5 stars
What did I think of The Woman Who Fell to Earth
So... what did I think of Rosa?