Written with no prior knowledge of what’s going to be in the episode – I watch the ‘Next Time’ trailer and make sure I see, hear and read nothing else – and written immediately after my first viewing. This is my unfettered, emotional response to this week’s DOCTOR WHO fare.
Or ‘Attack of the Killer Space-Zombies’!
I think the part that most people will lock onto here is the corporate nature of the villianry. This isn’t just any evil corporation, this is the kind of evil corporation that makes the one in ALIEN look like it prides itself on its generous pension scheme and has outfitted the Nostromo with a state of the art crèche.
The idea is dropped in early and allowed to run and run, with the show having gleeful fun with its own lack of subtlety. A company that not only charges employees for the air they breathe, but will think nothing of killing them off if it suits the bottom line. A company which can only be beaten by threatening the profit margins.
I actually laughed at the throwaway line at the end that six months later capitalism crashed. Bringing down the capitalist system before moving on blithely just seems like the most perfect Doctor thing to do.
But, for all that I enjoyed it, it did feel by the end that the fun it was having with its ideas did get in the way of the drama somewhat. Obviously Bill was going to be fine, and nearly everyone else was just an incidental character so in the final stand-off the jeopardy was somewhat muted.
There was a discussion on RADIO FREE SKARO last week – their review of ‘Knock Knock’ – about how DOCTOR WHO can’t really do horror as it can never allow itself to be as brutal as the third act of a horror movie needs to be. (I’m not sure that’s a bad thing though as this is after all a family show and so shouldn’t be as brutal as a horror movie. This is a gateway drug into horror movies, rather than the movie itself). You could make the exact same point about this week’s as last, that it can’t fully buy into the tropes it’s working with. That even with space-zombies, it can’t be as horrific as it really wants.
But whereas last week’s fully committed to its cause, thunder and lightening included, this week’s ran with its (admittedly great) idea to the detriment of its emotional punch. Intellectually I absolutely like this one more, but it didn’t make me squirm nearly as much.
When I saw the ‘Next Time’ trailer last week, I thought ‘Oxygen’ was going to be an absolute classic – while instead it’s another strong episode in what’s turning out to be a really strong series.
A strong series still awaiting its absolute classic.
- Obviously the first episode written after it was decided to make Nardole a regular, and he does bring a certain low-level charisma to the team. A way to get across exposition with jokes rather than The Doctor’s intensity.
- I can’t imagine it will be the case, but I will be seriously impressed if they keep The Doctor blind for the next eight episodes of his tenure.
- The fluid-links, Bill dubbing him her Grandfather in the last episode, the photo of Susan on the table and the upcoming return of The Mondasian Cybermen. What other Hartnell references are there? (I know I’ve forgotten some.)
- I still think it’s Missy, but it can’t be River in that vault, can it? Can it?