In Review: Doctor Who – Smile

"Smile. You're in the belly of the beast."

Synopsis: The Doctor and Bill travel to a strange world where they meet terrifying emoji based robots.

Review: Bill’s first official trip in the TARDIS sees the Doctor taking her to a human colony on another planet in the far future. The time travellers find there are no people in the colony and that it is staffed by innocuous looking robots. The robots have screens built into their heads that display symbols representing their feelings hence the nickname “emoji bots”. After some investigation the Doctor discovers that the robots have pulped the human population and used them as fertiliser. He attempts to blow up the colony, but Bill discovers people in stasis pods who are waking up. The Doctor realises that the robots became sentient and came to view any negative emotion as something to be destroyed because the purpose of the colony was hope and new beginnings. He averts a war between the human colonists and the robots by resetting the droids’ systems. The robots are recognised as lifeforms in their own right and the Doctor and Bill head for home, only to find themselves in London in the 16th century.

This episode felt very much like Classic Who. The robots were reminiscent of the ones in The Robots of Death and the part where the Doctor and Bill find the stasis chambers was a nice nod to a similar scene in The Ark in Space, another Tom Baker adventure. Bill continues to be a very human and relatable character. Her exchange with the Doctor at the start of the episode was brilliant, as was her reluctance to go back into danger in the middle of the episode and her challenge to the Doctor over his plan to blow up the colony. Peter Capaldi is tremendous throughout the episode, especially when he is trying to explain to Bill the danger they are both in without alerting the robots. Fantastic also was the scene in the engine room where the Doctor said “It’s the end of the human race.”

The music throughout this episode was phenomenal. The score that was used whenever the Doctor explained what was happening was excellent, as was the music used when a grief stricken Doctor and Bill were sitting by the engine. There was again a nice musical tribute to Classic Who when the Doctor took Bill back to the TARDIS in the middle of the episode. In similarity to last week’s adventure the enemy was defeated through ingenuity and kindness not guns or force. A couple of nice touches were the Doctor insisting on the robots’ rights as independent life forms and the TARDIS materialising in the wrong time which set up next week’s episode. This was a good outing for the Doctor and Bill which left me intrigued as to what will happen next week.

Doctor Who - Smile
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI
  • Incidental Music

I'm a writer on the autistic spectrum who loves sci-fi, cosplay and poetry. I'm also an actor with Theatre of the Senses.
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