World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls

On the 2nd January 2016, I sent the following e-mail:

I had a dream last night that Doctor Who came and filmed in [my street]. We were watching from our garden, and Capaldi came over and asked us not to post spoilers online. It was him, Michelle Gomez and John Simm, filming an episode called The Two Masters, which I now really want to see.

So really, this finale was my idea. They should have kept my title, although I also adore the Master’s suggestion of Genesis of the Cybermen.

Either way, bloody hell, what a story. So many amazing things all at once. It was rather reminiscent of the way RTD used to do things, with the first episode slowing bringing everything together and building up to an irresistible cliffhanger, followed by an emotional edge-of-your-seat epic. It’s in fact one of the best examples of the format – the climax at the end of the first episode had me grinning like a maniac and crying actual tears of joy. Not just on first broadcast; that happened today, even though I knew exactly what was coming. It was out of sheer happiness – this is everything I want from Doctor Who.

But there’s so much packed into this finale that I need to break it down in order to process it all, otherwise I’ll be here all night if I try to go through it all in order. Just put it down to relative time dilation as I jump around all over both episodes…

MONDASIAN CYBERMEN – Yes, yes, yes! Finally, for the first time since the 1960s, someone has remembered what made the Cybermen good in the first place, making this by far their best appearance to be made in colour. It’s perhaps the best of their various origin stories too, as it’s told from the human perspective, and doesn’t scrimp on the deeply disturbing body horror. I love the fact you see all those classic design elements coming together bit by bit as the technology is developed. It’s a bit of a shame the regular boring Cybermen turned up to hog the limelight in the second ep, but how marvellous for the originals to be given the chance to terrify a new generation of kids fifty years later.

JOHN SIMM – On first viewing, I didn’t clock who Mr Razor was. In fact, I recall thinking that I must look up whoever this actor is afterwards, as he’s a bit bloody hammy. I thought it might have been Paul Kaye under there. This time, I could hear tell-tale signs in the voice, but that’s probably only because I was looking out for some such giveaway.

I can’t believe it took this long for a multi-Master story to happen, because it’s such an irresistible concept. In some ways, Simm’s role here is similar to John Hurt’s in Day of the Doctor, representing the character’s past to emphasise how the current version has evolved. Plus he’s got a goatee, which was a great touch. He was certainly more subdued and subtle than he was opposite Tennant, but even more evil, with the slight softening that occurred during The End of Time undone in order to make Missy look less evil by comparison. Spending ten years pretending to look after Bill and then having her Cyber-converted just to spite the Doctor is classic Master behaviour.

MISSY – I love the premise of her standing in for the Doctor on an adventure. Cast and Moffat alike are clearly having a lovely time playing around with the idea, deconstructing the format of the show by having her refer to Bill and Nardole as “Exposition and Comic Relief”. And the thing about his real name being “Doctor Who” is pure perfection, both as a way of a soon-to-depart Moffat completely trolling the fans, and as a way of reconciling the various times when he has been referred to as “Doctor Who” within the series – neither the Doctor or Doctor Who are his real name, but he’s used them both as his chosen pseudonym at various points.

Following her meeting with her former self, Missy spends most of the final episode flitting between good and evil, trying to pick a side. It’s always hard to second guess any Master, but I think it’s a case of her genuinely changing her mind with alarming frequency, rather than any kind of devious masterplan – she’s completely torn between standing with the Doctor, which she knows is the right thing to do, and following her fundamental instinct of self-preservation.

In the end she comes good, although she’s tragically prevented from doing the right thing because her past self won’t allow it. It’s pretty deep, and it is of course the perfect conclusion to a multi-Master story – they both end up destroying themselves. Of course they do. This brings Michelle Gomez’s recurring role to an end, and her Master will be remembered as the best since Delgado’s. I’ve no doubt that a new incarnation of the character will inexplicably return from the dead at some point, but it’s a great way to leave things for now.

NARDOLE – He gets his big goodbye slightly before the end of the episode, but that was a good decision – he deserved his moment, and for it to not get mixed up with all the other momentous stuff that happens. He gets the classic “staying behind to help out” companion departure, and he’ll be missed. His was a role that contributed to a great TARDIS dynamic, and it gives me hope that the gang approach will reap good results for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

BILL – Meanwhile, Bill gets the “killed but carries on living”, just like every other Moffatt companion. It really is a very similar story to Amy’s and particularly Clara’s – each instance of it happening has been good, but a bit of variety wouldn’t go amiss. Nevertheless, it was a powerful final performance by Pearl Mackie, before and after conversion. She may have only been around for a short time, but she made a huge impression, and will be remembered as a very modern twist on a classic type of companion.

Much like Clara, she’s now off having her own adventures through time and space posthumously, thanks to the soggy lass from The Pilot turning up again. Heather’s powers are seemingly endless now, and it’s implied that the pair of them could beam themselves around the galaxy forever, or just turn themselves back into humans whenever they want. The universe is Bill’s oyster, and despite everything she has to go through first, that makes this perhaps the happiest ending for any companion.

THE DOCTOR – Ah yeah, that guy. Capaldi is obviously completely brilliant throughout, as you expect at this stage, but I must admit that his stop-start regeneration is a bit weird. He seems to have been dragging it out for weeks now, and there’s still a whole Christmas special to go. But it’s all worth it for that wonderful moment of David Bradley emerging through the snow.

This series in general, and the final in particular, feels like Moffat taking the opportunity to play with the show’s mythology as much as possible while he still can, and I very much approve. It hasn’t always worked, and overall the pattern of each Doctor’s third series being his worst is still in place, but you can barely fault this finale. Absolutely superb.

RATING: 10

SERIES AVERAGE RATING: 7.63

  • Seasons/Series watched: 36 of 36
  • Stories watched: 275 of 276
  • Individual episodes watched: 839 of 840

Oh my days. I have very mixed feelings right now. There is precisely one week to go. I’ll spend the next six days watching the third version of Shada this project covers, then after that I’ll watch an episode so recent it’s still on my Sky+ box, and then I’m up to date. This time next week, the project will be over. This is nuts.

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The Eaters of Light

I was really chuffed when I heard Rona Monro was coming back. I’d recently seen Survival and thoroughly enjoyed it, plus it’s a lovely thing that there’s now somebody who’s written for both incarnations of the show. Come on Chibbers, bring Terrence back next. In the end, the comeback doesn’t come close to hitting the heights of her first story, and is one of what is now a higher proportion than normal of episodes this series that are fairly ordinary, never really eliciting a strong reaction one way or the other.

It’s often rather disappointing when such an episode shows up during a run, as each week you’re waiting and hoping that you’re going to be blown away. On a rewatch however, it’s a lot easier to take, as devoid of expectations you can appreciate the little things. The talking crows are a very silly but rather sweet idea, and I loved the Romans thinking Bill was repressed because she’s not bi. Relative time dilation is always fun too – there’ll be a lot more of that next time. Nardole being bessie mates with all the Picts is perhaps the highlight; at this stage he’s developed into a really likeable character who’s just a blast to have around.

The only problem is that these nice little moments are probably supposed to feel much bigger than they do, because there wasn’t a great deal to get excited about overall. None of the Romans or the Picts were particularly well drawn, and it’s a shame that there wasn’t more time to round any of them out, which Monro excelled at in Survival. It was also a shame to have Bill spend so much of the episode separated from the Doctor when they’ve got so little time left together – I feel like I say that a lot whenever a departure is looming.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the episode was the couple of minutes with Missy at the end. While Bill and Nardole were right to be horrified to find her in the TARDIS, the concept is more familiar to those who have seen Scream of the Shalka, and it would actually be a fitting punishment to have her acting as the Doctor’s dogsbody. The pair of them coming together as friends feels right somehow – the Master is probably my favourite of all the Doctor’s adversaries, humanoid or otherwise, and that’s underpinned by their complex and at times ambiguous relationship. This feels like a natural progression – something both characters have secretly wanted for a long time.

RATING: 7

Empress of Mars

This is most likely to be Mark Gatiss’s last Who script, and while none of his episodes were exceptionally brilliant, only very rarely have they been particularly bad. This final offering is much the same: consistently entertaining without being spectacular. However, it’s sort of pleasingly ordinary after the big concepts and high stakes of late, and the simplicity of the story works to its advantage in the context of the series.

In fact, it’s very old school, not just because of the returning foe. Victorian soldiers and Empire enthusiasts seem to be a very Classic Who thing, and more than most modern episodes it fitted the pattern of an old four-parter condensed into 45 minutes. The power struggle with in the human ranks is the most obvious example, along with our heroes getting imprisoned just as things start getting interesting.

Catchlove is a good old-fashioned Doctor Who shitbag, one of those characters who’s somehow more villainous than the monsters he’s up against. Gatiss does more with the Ice Warriors here than he managed at the previous attempt, with the first female of the species we’ve ever met providing an extra dimension. As you know, I’m always fond of situations where there’s good and bad on both sides, and the fact that both Godsacre and Friday are willing to switch allegiances in the end makes this far more interesting than a simple battle between good humanoids and bad monsters.

It’s only a shame that the peace that breaks out in the climax sort just… happens. It’s all very exciting, but the logic that changes the Empress’s mind requires a few little leaps. It’s also one of those where the Doctor doesn’t actually do much – he’s a bystander in the resolution, and there’s not much that would have transpired differently had he never shown up in the first place. Maybe that’s for the best though – considering one of the few things he does is create the message that made him come to Mars in the first place, the whole thing is built on a bootstrap paradox that could have destroyed the universe had he become more involved.

Elsewhere, Nardole gets sent packing very early on, and sits the vast majority of the episode out. It makes me wonder whether the story was initially planned without him, which is something that sometimes happened with “additional” companions in the old days. It’s a shame the team was incomplete when they’ve only got a short amount of time left together, but the Missy arc that Nardole moves on continues to be intriguing and pleasingly ambiguous.

The best thing about the episode though? Bloody Alpha Centauri! One of those moments that I’ll always remember experiencing the first time. When the Doctor started talking the Ice Warriors expanding into new horizons, I recognised it as a little nod to the Peladon stories and thought that was that. Then that voice! The same voice! I laughed and applauded, and then had to explain to my partner what the fuck had just happened and why I was suddenly so happy. Completely incomprehensible to the vast, vast majority of Saturday night BBC One viewers (and I’d have been in that bracket were it not for this project), but I just love the audacity of doing it and getting away with it.

And furthermore, if the analogy from the original Peladon story still stands, then the Doctor encouraging the Ice Warriors to join the Galactic Federation as a means of gaining support and achieving greatness is incredibly relevant to current times. This is another thing that proves the Ice Warriors are far more civilised than the British.

RATING: 8

The Lie of the Land

This is such a frustrating episode. It’s clearly full of good ideas, as there are several plot threads that start extremely promisingly, only to completely fall apart. The biggest and most egregious misfire is the Doctor working for the Monks. Those scary propaganda broadcasts were brilliant, as was the hugely powerful scene where Bill confronts him and it seems he’s turned full villain.

I’m not usually one to second guess the writing process, but it smacks to me of wanting to do these really cool ideas, but not knowing how to resolve them. It essentially boils down to “haha, only joking”, which immediately ruins the preceding moments by making them meaningless, in exactly the way that Extremis avoided. On a character level, it’s cruel and unnecessary for the Doctor to put Bill through that. How dare he test her loyalty when this whole invasion is only happening because of her love for him.

It was the regeneration element that really rubbed me up the wrong way. It was the most intriguing thing to be teased in the pre-series publicity, and for it to have been a fake seemed like a complete cop-out, plus it sells the forthcoming actual regeneration short by providing a sneak preview. And it’s even more galling because Capaldi and Mackie were so brilliant in that scene, the performances clearly outclassing the material they’re working with.

This is also the case with Missy, as Michelle Gomez continues to be the most unpredictable actor ever to take on the role. Her introduction gives the episode a short in the arm after that shambles, but it’s short-lived. The gang head to the Monks’ temple, where we’re promised mind-bending illusions that end up only manifesting in the most perfunctory of ways, as another great idea falls by the wayside.

The next is the Doctor taking on the Monks in a Morbius-style contest of wills, failing, and Bill taking his place. Her act of sacrifice works, once again, due to Pearl Mackie, but the entire might of the Monks being taken down by her magical dead mum is just fucking silly, conceptually and visually. It’s so underwhelming that it has to be accompanied by a clearly tacked-on Capaldi voiceover, which is at least 80% exposition to compensate for the lack of clarity in the execution. This whole epic trilogy ends with a pathetic whimper.

And I’m not sure it’s ever made clear what the Monks actually get out of this arrangement. They enslave humanity, but to what end? What’s actually in it for them? It all just seems like a massive ballache to me, having to keep an entire population brainwashed for no discernable reason. And that’s to say nothing of the practical implications – transmitting telepathic bullshit is one thing, but they’d also have to confiscate every history book, documentary DVD and newspaper archive in the world, as well as editing the entirety of Wikipedia.

Considering that a quarter of the series is devoted to them, the Monks are incredibly underwhelming when you boil it all down. Such a wasted opportunity to do something truly epic, but instead all the early momentum is lost, and a series that could have been even better than the last is suddenly decidedly not.

RATING: 5

The Pyramid at the End of the World

Well, in a series that’s so far seen nothing but noticeably short titles, this one comes along and ruins everything. That’s kind of how I feel about the Monk Trilogy in general, which is largely due to my reaction to the following episode, which I’m not particularly looking forward to revisiting tomorrow. This one, however, I recall quite liking on broadcast, but I think my knowledge of what’s to come has put a downer over the whole thing, and made me nitpick at things that I didn’t notice the first time.

The biggest one comes in the climax, which I thought was thrilling and tragic at the time, bringing as it does the culmination of the Doctor’s blindness plot as well as affirming and demonstrating Bill’s love for him. But that was rather undercut when it occurred to me (and no doubt thousands of others before me) that when he was unable to see the numbers on the combination lock and was on the phone to Bill, the whole thing could have been sorted if he’d just made a video call. Even sending a photo of the current configuration of the numbers would have done.

And because I noticed that, it meant that I’m now not sure what I think about Bill asking the Monks for help, and thus being the one to bring about the subjugation of the human race. The Monks begin to annoy me somewhat during this episode. It’s not so much them – they look great and are impressively powerful, and I love the way that their complex simulations basically allow them to unerringly predict the future – it’s more the way that people act around them. One of the key considerations that underpins the decision on whether to accept the Monk’s help is that we don’t know what the Monks want in return. Did nobody think to, you know, ask them?

That part annoyed me even on first watching – I was willing them to just ask the bloody question, for which there were many opportunities – and it slightly ruins the otherwise interesting element of the Monks requiring consent in order to enact their undeclared dastardly plans. That and the fact that, thanks to this project, I’ve realised that pretty similar ideas have previously been used in both Sarah Jane and Class.

Regardless of all of these things, there is plenty to like about this episode. For the record, and to justify the fact that the below rating is way more positive than the blog entry thus far suggests, these include: Bill’s date being ruined becoming a running gag, with the Secretary General of the UN gatecrashing this time; the trick with all the world’s clocks being turned into the Doomsday Clock; world peace being declared and it not making a blind bit of difference; and the Doctor figuring out which lab the Monks are monitoring by turning off the security cameras in hundred of labs and seeing which one gets turned back on.

In fact, the bulk of the episodes is pretty good overall, it’s only in the last third that it starts to fall apart. I liked the clusterfuck of potential catastrophes, and the one strand that was consistently good was the aforementioned lab, in which disaster came about because a pair of glasses got broken, and because Tony Gardner went on the piss. Special shout-out to what is still among the rarest of things to see on British TV – a disabled actor playing a part in which their disability isn’t relevant to the character or the plot.

RATING: 7

Extremis

Insert standard moan about having to review what is clearly the first of a multi-part story here. The Monk Trilogy was initially billed as a three-parter, before being revised to merely a series of “loosely connected” individual stories, but you could even argue that this is the second of a four-parter, given how the events of Oxygen cast such a huge shadow, and the presence of a rare “previously” montage at the start of Extremis. Nevertheless, this episode does at least stand alone from a narrative perspective – kind of like Utopia back in the day – and is in effect a preview of the main Monk story still to come, which is pretty meta considering the nature of the eventual big reveal.

It’s certainly an unusual episode in the sense that nothing actually happens. Not in the pejorative way that could be levelled at certain stories over the years, but on the quite literal level that the only real life, real time events that transpire are that the Doctor receives an email and then tells Bill to go on the pull. It was certainly a bold move to reveal at the end that the preceding 40-odd minutes wasn’t real, but there’s little of the disappointment that you often get with “it was all a dream” endings, because what took place was still important and relevant to the ongoing series arc, and thus worth your emotional investment regardless.

It helps that it’s really bloody good, of course, largely thanks to the quality of performances from all three leads, and a suitably mind-bending Moffat plot. It was another bold move to have the actual current Pope as a guest character, but I suppose the “it wasn’t real” defence mitigates any potential to offend, and even if not, it’d still be worth it for the brilliant gag of him gatecrashing Bill’s date. It’s only a shame that the dead President we see later on isn’t Trump.

(Typing that, it’s just occurred to me how weird it is that my watch-through has brought me to a series that was broadcast during the current administration, considering we were only just into Obama’s second term when I started, and the prospect of that gobshite even considering running for nomination was but a distant nightmare.)

Anyway, as well as the stuff that didn’t actually happen, there was also some stuff that did happen but in the past, with the Doctor is forced to execute Missy in a ceremony overseen by Max from Humans. It was barely a surprise at all that Missy was the one inside the vault, but it’s nice to fill in Nardole’s backstory, and clarify exactly what his relationship with the Doctor is. This new information seems to be the catalyst for Nardole taking a level in badass; with the series now halfway through, he’s becoming far more than just the comic relief, and starting to hint at more nuance and complexity than we’ve previously given him credit for.

Just how long has the Doctor been guarding that vault, though? He vowed to do so for a thousand years, but we don’t know exactly when those flashback scenes took place – it could have been a few weeks ago for all we know. Or has it been so long that the university was built around the vault? How long can Nardole live for? I genuinely can’t remember whether or not the rest of the series answers these questions!

RATING: 8

Oxygen

This is the first episode this series where the plot is sufficiently meaty in its own right, thanks to the ever reliable Jamie Mathieson, and it marks a tipping point whereby the whimsy that characterised the first few episodes makes way for an all together more serious tone, thanks to the harrowing events that take place here.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – Nardole gets to come along, yay! His grumpiness at being on an adventure in the first place adds a lot of comic relief, and Matt Lucas steals the show several times throughout, from his quip about some of his best friends being blueish, to his little utterance of “cuddle” when he barges in on Bill and the Doctor’s hug at the end.

The main action consists of a reasonably toothy satire on the excesses of capitalism. Big corporations are often the bad guys on Doctor Who and in sci-fi in general, but it has to be said that The Doctor’s left-wing tendencies have been out in force recently, and I for one obviously approve. Here he describes a post-revolutionary, non-corporate future for space exploration, and ends it with “and that’s about it for capitalism”. There’s no doubt as to the moral of this story.

But to get there, the Doctor first has to sacrifice his eyesight in order to save Bill from the vacuum of space, only for her to have her nervous system shut down by an evil spacesuit minutes later. Both events are harrowing for the characters and viewers alike, but superbly written and acted. It’s such a shocking sight to see the Doctor impaired in this way, him temporarily becoming one of TV’s very few disabled heroes. The later revelation that his blindness wasn’t cured after all ranks of one of the greatest cliffhangers of recent times, fundamentally altering the premise of the show, for a while at least.

But if I’m honest, the main thing I’ll always remember from this episode is that Ganymede Systems, the aforementioned evil corporation who sell oxygen and kill their employees when they become inefficient, have the exact same aesthetic as Ganymede & Titan, the Red Dwarf fansite I’ve run for over fifteen years. Given that the two shows share a graphic designer, Matthew Clarke, I’d like to think that this is not a coincidence, although I’m scared to ask him because I know deep down that it probably is.

RATING: 9

Knock Knock

What I’ve discovered a lot during the latter stages of this project is that when you’ve only watched an episode once, your initial gut reaction gets exaggerated to the point where you recall it as either being completely brilliant or completely rubbish, whereas in reality most of them are somewhere in the middle. Today, I’ve learned that this is the case even when it’s been less than a year since broadcast. I remembered today’s episode as being an absolute stinker, but on reflection I wouldn’t go that far – it’s just not as a good as the preceding few episodes.

With the relationship between Bill and the Doctor being the best thing about the series so far, it was probably the disappointment of this episode doing things slightly differently that made me turn against it. For a start, it’s a return to the status quo of the companion having an independent life away from the TARDIS, plus the two of them are separated for vast swathes of proceedings, and when they’re together they’re often at loggerheads. Nardole is still very much a peripheral character at this stage, so instead they each have to team up with one of Bill’s slightly annoying but suitably diverse group of new housemates.

The Doctor gets saddled with the most annoying of the set, the wide-eyed Brummie thicko Harry, but it’s a character with an interesting real-world backstory. In early drafts, he was supposed to be Harry Sullivan’s grandson, which would have meant little to the vast majority of the BBC One Saturday night audience, but that’s never stopped Moffat before. Quite how this information tallies with the story about this Harry’s granddad and his boyfriend stealing a piece of the Great Wall of China remains unclear.

The main guest star was of course Poirot, a suitably well-known and accomplished choice for a good old-fashioned slightly camp villain of the week. His otherworldliness is suggested by his failing to know who the Prime Minister is; a scene that they wouldn’t have known during filming would take on an extra dimension when it was broadcast in the middle of an unexpected general election campaign. The performance is good, but the story not so much, as it’s far too thin on details and explanations. It doesn’t help that the wooden woman looks so silly.

A shame, as it was a good little haunted house story for a while. It culminates in the house falling to pieces, facilitating the escape of Bill’s housemates, who had been eaten by it one by one. Two things though – what about the previous generations of students that had been eaten over the years? And what happened to the actual alien woodlice who were living in the house though? They weren’t destroyed, neutralised or sent home, so what’s to stop this happening all over again?

RATING: 6

Thin Ice

Continuing the archetypal start to a new companion’s journey, a story largely set in the present is followed by one in the future, and now one in the past. Exploring British history presents more dangers for some companions than others, and this is addressed head on here, with much more depth than the similar scenes in Martha’s third episode. The Doctor’s acknowledgement that history has been whitewashed not only establishes his credentials as an ally, but also gives the series a free pass to cast whoever they want to in historical stories – a magic wand to dispel the closeted racists who complain about that sort of thing.

I didn’t think the theme of racial politics would culminate in the Doctor punching a racist in the face, but I’m glad it did. In the first series of Who to be produced after the Brexit referendum, and the first to air after Trump’s inauguration, there’s no finer way to address the worrying change in societal attitudes than by having TV’s greatest hero respond to these attitudes being espoused by knocking the perpetrators the fuck out.

This was soon followed by an absolutely first rate Doctor speech about how society should be judged on the value it places on life, and how all lives should be treated equally. Later, after Nathan Barley has been hoist by his own giant fish, he falsifies a will in order to redistribute the scumbag’s wealth to a bunch of street urchins. The Doctor is basically Jeremy Corbyn here.

Meanwhile, Bill’s trait of constantly questioning everything has moved on from simply covering the practical aspects of time travel, and has started to become personal. Despite the Doctor being a lot more like his old self these days, and the teacher-student dynamic between the pair, Bill’s not blind to his darker side, and not so in awe of him that she can’t ask questions that cut to his very hearts. It’s always worth examining the Doctor’s morality, and the show isn’t afraid to address the casual attitude towards death that the pursuit of storytelling sometimes necessitates.

Plus, you’ve got a giant fish that shits rocket fuel. It’s a good episode.

RATING: 8

Smile

It feels slightly weird to be revisiting this series so soon after it aired – I never intended to add my voice to the several thousand that are already reviewing contemporary Who, mainly because I don’t feel I have a great deal to add. In lieu of much in the way of insight, my reaction tonight was that I wasn’t quite as enthused as I remember being on first viewing, probably because it’s a story that relies on a mystery element to keep it going, and it’s recent enough that even I can remember all the details.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable watch, thanks to this particular TARDIS team. Rani’s mum from the Sarah Jane Adventures shows up at the beginning very briefly before being killed, and then Ralf Little rocks up towards the end, but for the vast majority of the episode it’s just the Doctor and Bill wandering around an empty colony having a chat, and those are by far the best bits. The dynamic between them feels effortlessly natural, even after only two episodes, and I remain fascinated by Pearl Mackie’s face.

The headline feature is killer emojis, and it’s a very “how do you do fellow kids” concept. I remember being worried about this beforehand, but it actually takes the language seriously as a means of communication, and with the exception of one snooty line from the Doctor, isn’t as condescending or dismissive of the phenomenon as I’d feared. I’m of the age where I’m not a native user of emoji myself, but I appreciate its potential as a universal language, and that was the spirit in which it was treated here.

Unfortunately, it did kind of go to shit a bit when people other than the Doctor, Bill and the little emojibots became involved, highlighting for the second episode in a row that the plot is somewhat secondary to the character work. It gets away with it, but ideally you’d have great central characters and a decent story, rather than something that culminates in the Doctor turning the robots off and on again and that making everything fine.

In summary then: 🧓🏼👩🏽 = 👍, 📖 = 😴

But I do like all the episodes smushing into each other this series – very 1960s. Although I feel sorry for future Big Finish and/or novel writers trying to find gaps in which to insert new Twelfth & Bill stories.

RATING: 7