Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Sunday Doctor Who Review


I will be discussing my thoughts and feelings of the Doctor Who episode "Smile" after the cut. I will not worry about spoiling the plot, so read at your own risk.


Doctor Who: "Smile" - The Happiness Patrol meets Silence in the Library. This had the feel of a good old-fashioned Doctor Who episode, but there were some odd moments and a less than perfect ending.

We get a little more information on the mystery door, as we learn from Nardole that the Doctor made an oath to guard it. A promise the Doctor doesn't seem too worried about now that he has a chance to wander the universe with Bill. So here's an aside... did the Doctor take any other students during the years he was guarding the door on earth? It seemed to me that he might have, but none of the others got close to him due to alien influence, as Bill did. I can certainly imagine he spent his time at the university helping promising people get a chance at a better life that they otherwise wouldn't. That's a very Doctor thing to do. And since he's a professor of some standing, and not a hermit in the woods somewhere, it seems a natural aspect of his last 50-70 years.

Anyway, the Doctor notes that he has a time machine and will get back before the kettle is boiling, and off they go. Bill picks the future, and finds a lovely future building with lovely little robots. I adore her comment that they speak emoji and thought the "interfaces" were incredibly cute, even with the mean "kill" faces on.

I also was more than a little stunned at the level of violence in the episode. I really liked the interaction between the two characters who died right off the bat - Kezzia in the field and Goodthing in the city. Goodthing was played by Mina Anwar, who also was Gita, the mother of Rani Chandra, in Sarah Jane Adventures. Thus, it hit a little hard to see her skeletonized. When the Doctor and Bill figure out the sequence of deaths and realize it took literally a single morning? Wow.

The Doctor's plan to blow up the ship was a little bit unlike him, but at that point he didn't recognize what he was dealing with. Corrupted code is one thing. An emerging intelligence is quite another. And, of course, he didn't bother to look past the "things" the colonists had brought to see the full tale, like Bill did. It's a good thing he brought her along.

I like the dialog between the two, including Bill's "Stop trying to keep me out of trouble." She asks nice questions, twisted questions that people in crisis don't usually stop to ask. No wonder the Doctor picked her as a student to tutor.

And now... to the bad. There is never any explanation as to why the boy is the first one awake. Was he already awake and waiting for the other colonists to come back into the ship? Had he been living in the ship with his mother the entire time, and this was just the same day as the massacre? He clearly had never been out into the city, but why was he first?

The second is the reaction of the colonists to learning the advance team was massacred. Seriously, guns? They KNOW the vardy are tiny robots that can make a floor vanish underneath you - why would they take guns? Wouldn't they be more inclined to find a computer tech, unfreeze them, and see if the problem could be resolved through technology? I mean, there are stupid responses to death, and then there's this. It's not just stupid, it's unrealistic unless the colonists are literally brain dead. The only way I can justify it in my head-cannon is to say "they were still confused after having been frozen and didn't remember what the vardy were." Even that isn't really sufficient to explain the sheer level of idiocy.

While the Doctor's solution was fine - it was getting to it that was ridiculous. And then the pound signs in the eyes of the robot interface after was just beyond stupid. At that point I just wanted to dropkick the writer for the dumb ending. It was SUCH a good episode right up until the climax that it practically hurt for it to turn out to be so bad.

Ok, on to other things. This episode gives the opportunity for cosplay that is either really really easy or incredibly difficult. Any old clothing with an emoji symbol on the back. Easy way would be to have an emoji that never changes. The hard version would have a remote control that you can use to change the emoji during the convention. It would be interesting to implement, but might require a tech solution that is a bit beyond most cosplayers. However, if such a thing were made, I'd want to wear it to every convention I go to.

And lastly, the ship's name is Erewhon, which is the title of a book by Samuel Butler.

So, the "too long; didn't read" summary - an episode with a great start that was horribly let down by the ending.