WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!
Ok so we all took a moment to compose ourselves when it turned out The Pilot was better than we thought. We have all managed (I think!) to compose ourselves with the revelation that John Simm is returning as the Master, so now its time to plow on with the next episode. The last time Frank Cotterall-Boyce wrote for Doctor Who was 2014’s In the Forest of the Night which I quite liked and now he’s back with Emojibots. Yes, Emojibots. In 2063 when the show is celebrating its 100th anniversary, I wonder how many people watching TV in their eyes and flying around in their hoverjets will know or remember what Emoji’s are?
Anyway, like when a new companion joins the show we are treated to a trilogy of stories. There is the first story which is typically set in the modern era, the two episodes are a futuristic one and the other is a historical one. This time we have a futuristic and its one that features quite a lot in the trailers. The story sees the Doctor and Bill (minus Nardole who is sadly under-used in this episode) arrive on a world that is about to colonised by humans but the people who set things up are being killed by the Emojibots. That is the plot and its a lot more memorable than Pilot.
There are many things that I like about this episode and I think it should come as no surprise that I like this episode. Its a solid and more importantly, fun episode. First thing I like is that its another episode where Peter Capaldi is free to play the episode with a bit more humour than he has in the past. The more I think about his performance in this episode and the previous one, the more annoyed I get that he couldn’t play this version of the Doctor in the previous two series. The relationship between the Doctor and Bill continues to be strong and continues to be a source of good in the show. Pearl Mackie continues to impress as Bill and her continuous questions aren’t bugging me which would have happened had it been Clara doing the asking.
Another thing I like are the Emojibots. I know I’m not sure whether Emoji’s will be fashionable in 2063 but here and now they work. The idea of robots getting the wrong end of the stick isn’t anything knew but the way that they are used and use Emoji’s is quite clever and as a villain (of sorts), they were far more effective than whatever it was in Pilot.
There are things that I don’t think worked quite as well as they could of done. Firstly the location for the colony was beautiful. It was filmed in Valencia and where they filmed looked stunning in every single shot. There’s no way that they could have filmed that in the UK cause it would just feature lots and lots of cement and look very glum. Whilst I loved looking at it, I did find myself slightly distracted by what I was seeing and found myself snapping back into what was going on. Also I thought the colonists that appear towards the end were a bit pointless really. I understood why they needed to be there in terms of plot, but they didn’t add anything to it and Ralf Little’s role could have been played by anyone.
Apart from those minor niggles, I thought Smile was another solid episode and actually better than Pilot. I liked how at the end of the episode, it moved straight into the next episode which is in keeping with the Hartnell era and also the Davison era. I hope this becomes a regular thing because its not something that tends to happen in new Who but two episodes in and I am still impressed with this series. Smile was well written, well directed and well performed but come back in April 2063 and we’ll see if we are talking normally or using Emoji’s.