Really behind at the moment thanks to work, but I refuse to let a Doctor Who review go up after the next episode has aired! I’m cutting it close this time, though! Praxeus was one of those in between episodes you get in the more arc heavy series, one that exists in its own little bubble and is perfectly fine, but you won’t really remember it a few weeks after it airs. So let’s review it!
What connects a missing astronaut, birds behaving strangely in Peru, and a US naval officer who washes up on a Madagascan beach? The Doctor, Yaz, Ryan and Graham split up to investigate mysterious events across 21st century planet Earth. As the mystery deepens, and lives are put at risk, the TARDIS team face a deadly race against time to save humanity.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
“You’re a Doctor, so am I going to be okay, or-” “OH MY GOD! What’s up with your hand, it’s gone all rough and weird! Wow!” “Er, oh. Never mind.”
The best thing this episode does is create a good mystery. Several unexplained things are happening at several locations around the globe and The Doctor, Yas (or Yaz, looking at the official synopsis above. Guess I’ve been writing the wrong short-hand!), Ryan and Graham split up to investigate. A missing astronaut in Hong Kong, whose same-sex husband has come to try a rescue, a bunch of mutated birds attack some vloggers who are camping in a waste-filled riverbank (for some reason), and a submarine vanishing off the coast of Madagascar. It doesn’t take long for an alien virus called Praxeus to be unveiled as the root cause, a virus that lives in plastic microorganisms and is being spread by the infected birds. It’s all nicely paced, and fun to follow.
The astronaut Adam and his husband Jake were good characters. They did a very convincing fake-out death with Jake, who has spent the whole episode feeling guilty for being a screw up and was trying to make up for it by flying the exploding alien spaceship into the sky to save everyone, but he just gets saved at the last second. It was a nice play on a cliché and very refreshing. Hopefully their kiss made some of the hate-watchers finally tune out for good due to the apparent “horror” and stop banging on about silly things like that…
As for Praxeus itself, or well, rather the aliens who brought it here. A generic scientist is revealed to be a “baddie” towards the end, but I didn’t really have enough time to care about her or to feel anything, plus it was a “wrong thing for the right reasons” kind of deal, with her race having been all but wiped out by Praxeus, and our planet being the best place to host them while they try and find a cure, so at least it wasn’t a cheesy moustache twirling reveal. She had good motivation at least. They others were just people in coveralls and gas masks, but I did really enjoy the effects of Praxeus victims turning into weird scaly skinned husks, then turning to dust. Should hopefully have freaked out some of the younger viewers, as Doctor Who should always do.
He’s bad, though with the exception of the gun, he looks rather human…
While nowhere near as heavy-handed as Orphan 55, I did have to roll my eyes a bit at another eco-message centric episode so soon after the last one. Again, anti-pollution is a good message, we are indeed inhaling or ingesting micro-plastic, it’s not very good, but I don’t think turning an episode of Doctor Who into a warning is really going to change anything. The adults have already made up their mind one way or another, and the kids are too young to do anything about it and will obviously be influenced by their surroundings more than an episode of Doctor Who. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh, there might be some kids who never thought about the whole landfill / plastics thing until now, but still, it’s more the whole having another botched attempt at a “subtle message” thing so soon after the worst offender since the Pertwee era that ticked me off a bit…
I also have to say that the vlogger character, Gabriela, was annoying as hell. Its another one of those “act all unbothered and sarcastic like a teenager” characters despite her literally witnessing her best friend turn to dust before her eyes. The few times she does seem upset or motivated are lost in the mire of “this is what kids today sound like, isn’t it?” writing. Still, a vlogger is at least a very modern character, I’ll give you that!
Hey look, Jake is lighting up the place with a phone light! Get with the times, Yaz and Graham, with your silly torches!
Not much, beyond obviously following on directly from the previous episode, “Fugitive of the Judoon”. Though obviously with killer plastic involved The Doctor mentions Autons (Spearhead From Space et al.) before waving it off as not their style. I also have to say that a deadly virus, underwater base, a missing submarine and fish netting all over said underwater base, this really did feel like it was Sea Devils story that got altered or something…
She’s moments away from being completely fine. Or from turning to dust… one of the two.
Praxeus was fine, for what it was. A few good set pieces, some nice locations, mostly good guest characters, an exciting climax. The second heavy-handed eco-message episode in the space of a month is a bit much, even if it wasn’t nearly as direct as the previous attempt, and one guest character grinded on my nerves a bit. Overall a mixed bag, but I’d still lean towards good overall, just not a story I’m likely to revisit…