Monday, 19 November 2018

Doctor Who - Kerblam!

Kerblam Your Enthusiasm

Doctor Who - Kerblam!
Airdate: 18th November 2018

Warning: Slight spoiler.

Ahhh... okay. Just when I said to somebody it’s getting a bit boring now reviewing new Doctor Who episodes because they’re of a certain standard... we get another fairly dud episode. Not that it was terrible, mind you. Kerblam! was a fairly entertaining diversion, to an extent. It was also somewhat predictable in a way.

The episode starts when The Doctor gets one of those ‘help me’ notes on a delivery packing label from the intergalactic version of called Kerblam! Yeah, we all know that urban legend. So she and her loyal companions go to a moon which is the Kerblam! warehouse and work there under cover to find out who sent the note. No prizes if you figured out, right from very early on, that the automated system itself had sent the request specifically to The Doctor for a good reason.

Now, one of my biggest problems with this one is that, after starting off fairly soundly with a satire of the true evils of companies like Amazon, by the end of the show it kinda took a step back and somewhat defended the service. Not trying to be hypocritical here by acknowledging the evils of these ‘modern slavery masquerading as a benefit to mankind' kinds of companies, by the way. I use Amazon as much as the next person... then again I eat meat too but it doesn’t mean I like the fact that animals are killed either so... yeah, don’t lets have that conversation.

Anyway, there were some nice things about this episode... asides from the usual strong performances from Jodie Whitaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole, that is. It, like a lot of the stories this season, was very character oriented in that it took the time for us to get to know the characters which, you know, is always a good thing if the writers want you to care about them when they start getting killed off. So that was nice.

Another nice thing was the concept of weaponised bubble wrap which would explode and kill the moment a human being does what a person almost always does when they come into contact with bubble wrap... pop it. That was a nice touch and I love it when somebody finds ways to ‘murder up’ a habitual character trait like that. It reminded me, somewhat, of the person who accidentally kills himself by clicking his shoes together because Marcello Mastroianni knew he would do that and put the appropriately activated explosive in his boots in the wonderful movie The 10th Victim (reviewed here). I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.

Another nice thing was the sinister, lifeless qualities demonstrated by the killer robots... based on the idea of the Kerblam! Man. I mean, admittedly this is standard stuff for Doctor Who through the ages and I couldn’t help but think back to some classic moments from shows like the old Tom Baker story Robots Of Death but... it’s always nice when they do it well. So that’s something they got right.

In the end, though, I felt the episode was just a bit less varied... shows which take place on a mostly interior set with not much going on in terms of variety of locations are not usually up there in my favourite Doctor Who stories these days, it has to be said. And... nope, that’s all I’ve got. Honestly, I know this is a little light on detail but I don’t have much else to say about this one. I apologise profusely for the short review but the episode didn’t do much for me. I’m still liking the majority of the show though... which is challenging because I’m pretty much the only person in my house who is liking this new series. Everybody else in the place has given up on it, for some reason.

Next week’s episode is... well, it looks like they’re heading into Witchfinder General territory and, as much as I like Alan Cumming, who seems to be next week’s bad guy... witch trial stories are not really my thing. I hope they give that one a good science fiction spin to hold my interest. So... I’ll report back with a review here of that one in roughly a week.

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