Smile

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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.

Pilot

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MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!

Well, every Saturday (almost) I go to my friends house to watch movies and Doctor Who and I got asked on more than one occasion “What time is Doctor Who on?”. I have missed being asked that question. I had to watch the last 10 minutes of Pointless with ‘celebrities’ that I didn’t recognise. I couldn’t even bothered to Google who they were. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Doctor Who is back!

I have been looking forward to this for weeks. I haven’t been this excited for a new series for a long time. I don’t think that its because we didn’t get a series in 2016 but more because this is the first series not to feature Clara and I am warming to the dislike for here character. I also think that the buzz around who the new Doctor will be is added to the excitement.

I thought that the episode was ok. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong but I would be lying if I could say it was the best opening story but to be it was more what it represented than the actual plot. The introduction of Bill was the most important aspect of this story in my mind because it needed to introduce Bill in the right way. Clara never really got that sort of time and so if you think about it, its been seven years since Amy got to drive the story. I thought that Bill was a good character who asked a lot of questions and normally that would annoy me but actually worked and it was the questions she asked that made it work. Her sexuality also got used in this story but I wondered how this was going to be dealt with at 7:20 on a Saturday evening. I thought it was dealt with in a good way and used quite creatively to get Bill into the story without making it seem contrived.

I thought that Peter Capaldi was really good in this episode. There seemed to be a freshness to his performance that we haven’t seen before. I don’t know if its the fact there was a gap between series or he knows he wont be doing this for much longer but there was a different vibe from him in this episode. Matt Lucas is a very good addition to the TARDIS crew and I suspect in years to come he wont get much of a mention because he is essentially the comedy relief but he isn’t wasted and works well with Capaldi. As a trio, I think that they work well together and there is a different more refreshing dynamic to the TARDIS crew.

The whole thing about the puddle and the water was perhaps the one aspect of this story that didn’t quite work. I kind of lost interest with all that as I was paying more attention to how the Doctor and Bill were working together. I think the idea of making a menace out of a puddle will make young kids scared of puddles. There scorch marks around the puddle did remind me of the scorch marks in Remembrance of the Daleks and the Daleks did make an appearance which was sort of suggested but this story saw the return of the Movellans who previously appeared in Destiny of the Daleks back in 1979. I liked the idea of them coming back and would have liked to have them feature a bit more in a story in the future.

The Pilot hits the refresh button for the show and does so in a good way. I thought it was well written by Moffat and well directed by Lawrence Gough making his debut in the series. The big reveal in the run up to the series was that John Simm would be returning as the Master as well as Michelle Gomez’s Missy. He appears in a blink and you’ll miss it shot at the end of the coming up bit. There is a nice sense of mystery about what is in the vault, I don’t know if this is the series arc but it was nice wondering just what could be behind the doors.

So Capaldi’s final series starts off very well. Not a classic but still something to enjoy just for what it manages to get right as opposed to what it got wrong. I don’t think those that hate Moffat will want to admit for a second that he wrote a good episode (i’m imagining a shrug of shoulders) but he did and next week’s episode is one that makes emoji’s seem evil.