Doctor Who: Smile Review


The Twelfth Doctor and Bill go on their first journey in the TARDIS and arrive in a future colony… and the proceed to have a friendly chat… for 40 minutes. Then it ends. More details, you say? Okay!

Official Synopsis:

In the far future, at the edge of the galaxy, there is a gleaming, perfect city. This brand new human settlement is said to hold the secret of human happiness – but the only smiles the Doctor and Bill can find are on a pile of grinning skulls.

Something is alive in the walls, and the emojibots are watching from the shadows, as the Doctor and Bill trying to unravel a terrifying mystery…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Smile 3

The “It speaks Emoji!” scene that made everyone think this would be a funny episode… boy were they wrong!

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – Having spent a few decades in one location, The Doctor can’t help but jump at the chance for a sneaky run-around with new companion Bill. I’m sure nothing bad will happen!

Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) – Bill is still getting her feet wet as a companion, and seeing the wonders of the future is almost overwhelming… and then the death starts. Sadly for her, lesson number 1 shouldn’t be “the Doctor lies”, it should be “people always die when ever he arrives somewhere”… which I guess wouldn’t get many people signing up if that were advertised before hand…

Plus one or two more!

The Good:

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Getting a funny screenshot out of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is easy, and fun!

There are some great scenes between The Doctor and Bill, with the latter slowly piecing together what the long (or eve short) term viewer already knows: The Doctor can’t leave well enough alone… and he seems to always land in places where something horrible is going on. Bill is a fun companion, asking questions and giving amusing responses, which is a nice change of pace after Clara.

There is some good social commentary on the use of technology and the lack of showing emotion to people. Sadly it’s not exactly Black Mirror with its subtle-ness…

The Bad:

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They’re more threatening than the Cleaners from Paradise Towers at least, I’ll give them that…

The whole first 40-ish minutes of the episode is The Doctor and Bill talking, which starts off fine, with some great dialogue, but soon gets rather tiring… Then when more people are finally introduced there is about four or five minutes of a tense showdown, then everything is sorted with a whirl of The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. Ugh, I thought we were done with those cop-out endings! In the end the episode felt like a whole lot of nothing, with only a brief moment of something interesting.

The “Emojibots”, as they’ve been dubbed, weren’t too bad, but at the end of the day they were barely a problem. There is a joke about how slow they are, but after the first five minutes they’re useless. Again, any attempt to generate some interest in between talking scenes is taken away for… more talking scenes.

Given his previous effort, “In The Forest of the Night”, Frank Cottrell-Boyce clearly has no knowledge of the show’s history or continuity, and that’s fine! A good story is a good story, and that’s what script editors are for, but this seems to have been only half corrected. Given the scenes of riots in the book of Earth’s history Bill was reading, combined with some other dialogue, the story was most likely that this was the last of humanity who had to leave Earth behind after they ruined it by being … well, human. A fine sci-fi concept, but one that doesn’t match up with Who history, so I assume that Steven Moffat edited in references to the classic period of Who’s timeline where Earth was evacuated in big ships (and an ark in space!) due to a solar flare, complete with The Doctor saying that he had “encountered ships like this before”. These two completely contradict each other, sometimes in the same scene, including The Doctor mentioning the other ships and then shortly afterwards “finding out” that this ship has humans on… and then exclaiming he nearly “Wiped out the whole of humanity” when he nearly destroyed the ship, despite the fact he said there are other ships out there! It’s like the script was half edited. Bizarre.

The Continuity:

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*Gasp!* Other people! Funnily enough, the length it’s taken you to look at the picture and read this sentence isn’t far off their total screen time…

There are several nods to The Ark in Space, including a Med Tech and the aforementioned inserted nods to other ships. Beyond that, not a lot of continuity, which is fine given the new “enemies” and location.

Overall Thoughts:

Not great, I’m afraid. While it’s not awful like Cottrell-Boyce’s previous effort, it was rather dull, with only a few dialogue exchanges perking the story up here and there, then just when it gets a little interesting, it ends in a spectacularly unsatisfactory fashion. Throw in some contradictory dialogue gaffs and I’m afraid it’s a thumbs down from me…

2 Star Watch

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