e’re two weeks into the new series of Doctor Who and yet the show is still full of nods and references to past Doctor Who adventures. I found Smile to be creepy and had me exclaiming profanities at my TV set whenever something took me by surprise, so let’s have a look at the second episode in the season 10 run where I shall be reviewing Smile and looking at where it got its influences from.
First of all upon hearing the idea of 'Emoji-Bots' I was somewhat disappointed over what sounded like a dreadful idea. I was fearing that the idea/storyline would be too cheesy to handle, but it wasn’t until a closer look at the Next Time trailer and clips leading up to the episode that I was left intrigued and thirsty for more information. Slowly leading up to Episode Two I began finding the Emoji-Bots more and more creepier than I previously thought.
Smile was a great nod to past Doctor Who stories, upon closer inspection it reminded me of the 1977 Doctor Who adventure The Robots of Death where people were given disc either before or after they were killed. In this case the victims are given small yellow discs upon arriving on the deserted planet. Another classic story that had me remember was The Happiness Patrol, where if anyone saw signs of unhappiness they were classed as 'Killjoys' and sentenced to death by strawberry fondue which would be concocted by the Kandyman which looked shockingly similar to Bertie Bassett.
Another moment that had me thinking of The Happiness Patrol was the strong teacher/student relationship between the Doctor and Bill. Like the relationship between Ace and the Doctor in the late 1980’s. Bill also exclaimed “wicked” which I’d like to think of it as a nod to young teenage girl from Perivale. With season 10 being a reboot of the NuWho era the show feels very similar to the series we were given back in 2005. Bill’s moments in the TARDIS seems very reminiscent to when Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler came onto our screens. It feels with having a younger companion is more targeted to a younger audience and it feels different to what we’ve been given over last few years.
Smile for me is a good story for a first proper adventure for one of the TARDIS’s new crew members. It’s very fitting to give “the new girl” a trip through time regardless of it being in the past or future. Episode Two was creepy, very creepy. Having smiling bots who at any moment could have you killed is like having a selection of demonic smiling dolls that could have you out of the way in the heartbeat. Also the idea of having Emoji as one of the only forms of communication to survive for so long is very fitting as most of us today use Emoji’s in every form of communication, whether its via text messaging, social media or jotting down notes. In some way a smiley ends up creeping its cheesy little grin into almost anything.
However there are some of us that don’t use Emoji’s and are baffled by its existence. Almost like dabbing, what in the world is dabbing? Other stories that felt like they were being referenced was The Ark in Space where human colonists have been evacuated from Earth, also the first person to wake up from cryogenic sleep was a Medtec. And not to mention one of my personal favourites The Seeds of Doom where humans like the colonists were being turned into compost to make way of vegetation to thrive and grown, in this case the plants of Earth weren’t eager to destroy humanity.
I also like the reference to David Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes', along with the closing scene to the episode which had a caption of the title for episode three, which pays homage to 1960s Doctor Who.
Overall, Smile was a nice balanced episode. I thought it was witty and paid good homages to past stories. The character building of Bill’s relationship with the Doctor was a pleasure to watch and I was overall impressed with this week’s episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Therefore I think another 10/10 is needed for this season as I have not yet been left disappointed with what we’re being given. Bravo!