Home Forums Episodes The Twelfth Doctor Smile

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    Craig @craig

    Doctor Who - Smile

    After the first episode of AG Who, “Rose”, the Doctor whisked Rose off to the far future to show her “The End of the World” (just to show off – let’s face it). Twelve does almost exactly the same thing with Bill. Will he never learn?

    The Doctor takes Bill to a spectacular city on a distant planet. It’s a future human colony, but there don’t seem to be any colonists. A band of ‘cute’ androids hold the deadly answer to why.

    Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, I think this is better than his first Doctor Who story, “In The Forest Of The Night”, which saw the trees take over. It lacked, for me, a bit of sci-fi logic. This one takes a little time to get going, like last week, which is not a criticism at all. It’s actually a very good thing in my opinion. And Pearl Mackie proves that the opener wasn’t a fluke – she’s just as great again this week.


    Prototype vashta nerada ūüėéūüöÄūüŹ•ūüć†ūüíÄ

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    “I’m so happy, I hope you’re happy too”

    @cathannabel and all. I think the Bowie Game is surely on! ūüôā

    Anonymous @

    Indeed, better than Joyce’s debut, and a very classic DW story with a typically Moffatian moral relativist twist. Both this episode and the trailer for next week’s remind me of the early years of the reboot as well as the classic series. I think this is partly due to Bill just being a person, not a mystery to solve or a plot to unravel.

    More series one riffs: a long overdue welcome return of the connecting final scene! Back in the day, the last scene of a DW story was the first scene of the next. I’ve been wishing they’d re-adopt this approach and ditch the Next Time for a long time.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Not quite as glorious as last week but a pretty solid episode nonetheless. I like how the first 20 or so minutes had a real old-school feeling to them — the equivalent off what would have been the first episode of a BG story, with lots of questions, a mystery, a new world to explore, and Capaldi is definitely reminding me of mid-period Tom Baker these days. The chemistry between his Doc and Bill continues to be excellent too.

    It looked great too. I totally believed in this as an alien city. The emoji-bots were nicely realised too — although not as original as has been lauded, I think. There is a debt to Zero from Borderlands to be paid, I think.

    And I like that it didn’t descend into a human vs monsters binary opp by the end and it found the time to inject some weightier issues of power, free will and colonialism into the mix. There’s an episode of TNG that it reminded me of but I’m struggling to pluck from my ageing memory. Maybe there’s a Trekker out there who can enlighten me. But other influences that sprang to mind while watching it are, of course, The Happiness Patrol (tho, of course a gazillion times better), The Ark in Space, Serenity and possibly even Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    The same thought came immediately to my mind; vashta nerada

    A cautionary tale for anyone who might have the hubris to attempt to build utopia, not to mention the potential drawbacks of depending too much on artificial intelligence (the Singularity ?).

    I would have thought that this episode would satisfy the perpetual whingers who want more science fiction and more of a traditional plot in Doctor Who, but no; from a quick glance at the first comments on the guardian blog it seems that the resolution of this potentially disastrous situation Рthe Doctor, with the aid of his sonic screwdriver, rebooting the emojibots and the varda Рwas a narrative cop out (and no doubt the words deus ex machine will be bandied within the next hour or so).  But unless I am becoming senile and my memory is at fault, it was often thus:  the Doctor spends a good deal of time escaping immediate danger and assessing the problem, sees the solution in a flash of inspiration and at the last moment, resolves it by reversing the polarity or whatever.

    As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it a very well written and constructed episode with a satisfying¬†plot,* visually¬†impressive if you like futuristic but fairly minimalist architecture,¬† and plenty of subtle and not so subtle jokes, and I can’t wait to view it again.

    I am also getting more and more intrigued by the character of Nardole and the hints concerning his hitherto ambiguous relation to the Doctor.  Is he the external conscience Рthe jiminy cricket Рkeeping the Doctor to his promise and duty in guarding the contents of the vault?

    * even if the outline was to some extent predictable for anyone who has read a lot of the science fiction written in the past 50 years or more.


    Pufferfish @pufferfish

    Hello all!

    I’m glad to be back and glad to see everyone back. Big love to Puro – now let’s get settled in and see where we are.

    Capaldi was interviewed recently and was delighted to be asked what David Bowie song should play in the TARDIS. ¬†His answer: “Time”. Make of that what you will. I’m totally down with Bowie references as we go along (BTW the last time someone approached DB to appear in Who, in the AG years, he pretty much backed away slowly from the person). As to Smile, I didn’t *hate* In The Forest Of The Night but this was much better, and I love the old-school ‘TARDIS going anywhere but home’ thread that seems apparent so far this series.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    I meant to note, in passing, that the name of the ship ‘Erehwon’ – is the title of the¬†book by Samuel Butler and the reverse of¬†nowhere, which is in turn a¬†more or less direct translation of the Greek word utopia.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    Interesting context on Moffart saying he deliberately wanted a companion who wasn’t white…
    Noted Nardole and not ‘slaving for a human’. Now robots and their interface as indigenous species… and an all white Tardis crew wouldn’t fully work with such a story line. Or all white colonists…
    Incidentally, the emoji thing started off very Black Mirror. And ended rather IT crowd. British TV at its finest.
    Nice subtle arc building up. There is a vault. What is behind it is very important and needs protecting. When the doctor said he ‘promised’ he wouldn’t do it, this might be to do with the vault. That said, ‘friends’ programing on a door lets Bill in, before she knows anything. The Doctor is not supposed to leave. He’s being a bit of a teenager about it.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I have to confess to being totally knackered when I watched this, and I need to rewatch to get a feel for it. Tomorrow!

    Overall though, my first impression was, like @jimthefish ‘old-skool’ with a bit of the jauntiness of the modern show rubbed down. I think they are letting Pearl and Peter gel by having them do a lot of talking in relative quiet moments at the start. If this is a one seriea deal for both of them this could be important – Pearl doesn’t have the time for an expansive arc like Amy and Clara.

    This does look gorgeous though. I think if you go back and watch The End of the World and then compare it to this, the texture and ambition of the show has grown so much.


    * even if the outline was to some extent predictable for anyone who has read a lot of the science fiction written in the past 50 years or more

    Just on that I was interested in the reference to Erewhon, a book that was recommended to me years ago and I’ve still not read. I know it’s a satire on utopias, but I just wondered if anyone has read it?


    I think that may have been Benjamin Cook who writes for DW magazine? I think he said the last time they bumped into each other he said ‘no – I’m not doing Doctor Who’ and ran away. I think the context was more ‘I’m sick of this question’ ūüėÄ

    Mudlark @mudlark


    There is a vault. What is behind it is very important and needs protecting.

    Yes, it seems from the hints we have been given so far that the Doctor is protecting whatever is in the cabinet in the vault from potential external attacks, and not guarding the earth from what is in the vault.  His first assumption in The Pilot, when the Heather/space ship fuel entity trickled down the steps of the basement, was that it was aiming at what was in the vault, and he was relieved to realise that this was not the case.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    ‘Made of optimism…’

    Some thoughts…

    As well as Van Gogh appearing in the book in front of the corpse, the early scenes in the fields with the swirling¬†Vardi microbots¬†¬†are reminiscent of the painting ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ by him.

    It used to be considered his last painting before he (supposedly) committed suicide and was long said to be a representation of his despair, though this is all now disputed.

    wheat crows

    The death of Kezzia was both really disturbing and laugh out loud funny all at the same time.

    The emoji critters proved ‘Not a disappointing robot’.

    I wonder if the Dr’s referencing a fondness for fish socially relates to (the one true) @jimthefish ?!

    The Magic Haddock!

    Loved the angry tear emoji on the Dr’s mood indicator patch…

    Smiles aren’t just smiles…

    Wiltshire/Aberdeen please…

    Bill sees The Poll Tax & Nuclear Armageddon & wonders if anything bad has happened…

    EUSC is also the University of Santa Cruz…

    Fleischmann means ‘butcher’…

    Rage/revenge made the eyes flicker into gun emojis…

    Awareness of being¬†under attack defines the species (as a species)…






    Random thought. One of the characters really ought to have been called Bixby (or Jerome). There was a corn field and everything, and they were looking for A Good Life. (Although there was Goodthing while Steadfast and Praiseworthy could be viewed as riffs on that).

    Also, Tardis aiming for somewhere and missing. Now that’s old skool

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Peter Capaldi’s bonkers theory (on¬† the aftershow) is that his hair will grow & attack the Universe…

    big hair

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, on first viewing I thought it was amusing, but slight. But the more I think about it the more I think it can be interpreted as a clever reflection on language. On the one hand you have the Doctor, who uses reason and logic and can articulate his reasoning (the episode was very heavy on dialogue). On the other hand, you have the emoji robots who operate entirely on the basis of visualizing feelings based on facial expressions, and lack any language to articulate the disjunction between a facial expression and what someone is actually thinking. (Emoji robots wouldn’t really be very good at irony.)

    So I don’t think the show was making a point about humans vs machines, but I do think it might have been making a point about the value of language and the mendacity of emoji.

    Or perhaps I interpreted it that way because I find messages using emoji so damned annoying!



    I think you are on to something. In fact, thinking about it, wasn’t there a crack about no other civilisation using them?

    Anonymous @

    OOh we are loving this: I shouldn’t be posting in the middle of the episode (hello ABCiview) but I love this:

    “seeing your own mood might affect your own mood.”

    This is like the other thread, mUm was saying?

    Also, she said: “oh what a beautiful morning.” Now, that’s a song. An “oldie” dad said.

    I like this a lot.

    OK, I’ll never use emojis again @blenkinsopthebrave and @pedant. Pretend ones? ^-^¬† ?

    From, Thane. Thank you.

    Anonymous @

    Puro and I are not as familiar with the standard story of sci-fi? Colonise, there’s a problem, the original people are creations of the colonists which went wrong, etc so to us this was really fascinating. ¬†We don’t know Borderlands, @jimthefish or¬†many of¬†wonderful sci-fi novels¬†out there. Mum read a¬† lot of Asimov and two years ago @pedant gave us a list of novels and writers;¬† she was introduced to Ursula Le Guin, which she loved. @ichabod helped with that.

    Anyway,¬†we are familiar with the problem that many in Aus have¬†recognising the Indigenous people¬†and¬†commemorating how, as we do on ANZAC Day (next Tuesday) that many Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) fought in the early war. In the Bulletin magazines there are lots of first hand accounts of white Australians fighting alongside “their brudders.”¬† “Brudders” is a quote (by an ATSI) about their “white” brothers from one of the¬†articles in the early magazines and reports of the time. It’s¬†in the¬†Adelaide Advertiser too.

    We thought t this was a¬†poignant episode. I wonder if some might think it’s¬† “Who-lite”? but I don’t think¬†so. There are so many call backs.¬† To the Vashta Nerada -well spotted @pedant and @mudlark and to @wolfweed -whee-hay, you picked up a lot!! I really could see a reference to Van Gogh too (he’s probably my favourite artist and in the Musee D’orsay (bad spelling!) I stood, then sat and LOOKED. That’s thx to the Matt Smith episode for me. But also, references to The Hungry Earth -negotiation, but in this case¬†handled better.

    Also, the episode in Series 6, where Amy is lost and ages at a spectacular rate. I’m sorry but neither of us can recall the name of that heart-breaking episode .¬†Also, The Crimson Horror!

    I found this ep creepy and quite black in its humour? That could just be me, though.

    Mum said she really likes¬†that Peter’s¬†accent is easier to understand. It’s¬†mellowed but confident.

    This ep started with a much less rollocking pace; a quieter feel but I also thought Nardole wasn’t just the comedy guy, hanging on the Doctor, as if he’s really there to ensure 13 doesn’t go “off piste” (mum added that) -a bit like what @mudlark was saying? Nardole is¬†stern now.

    Doc 13 is the errant school boy, saying “come on, let’s do this. He won’t even know” As @phaseshift noted it’s a beautiful looking episode too.

    @mudlark :¬† as @blenkinsopthebrave said to Mum once, “oh no, don’t go the Graun. Be kind to yourself.” I think that the re-boot was a clever way of handling what was a computer. He re-wrote its memory which is perfect Doctor thing to do. He wanted to do that to Bill last week!¬† It also had darker applications when you consider Indigenous issues of¬† “recognition of this Land.”

    I¬†think the re-boot idea was a¬†Moffat joke: ¬†re-booting the Doctor, who’s crystallised into something new¬†from Bill’s eyes. And we saw its negative aspects in the bit of the next episode when she tearfully asks that question…

    @pufferfish That is very kind (I’m typing for Mum). I (Thane) also love your avatar.¬† I watched a Jeremy Wade episode on pufferfish in the Mekong Delta. They’re biting people’s bits off because no-one catches them to eat so they’re spawning.¬† You’re a good pufferfish! *-_-*

    Thank you for reading.

    Thane (and Puro x)

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    Agree with the various up-thread comments on the `old school’ feel to this one. Aberdeen clearly plays on the Doctor’s mind. And was that a bust of Nefertiti in the¬†Erewhon?

    Like @craig, I thought¬†Smile¬†was much stronger than¬†Cottrell-Boyce’s¬†In The Forest Of The Night. Overall, the episode struck me as very good with Bill stellar again, but my one reservation concerns the ending, which felt rushed. I want the Doctor to do more than just wave his sonic at a problem as it has then becomes a wand.

    @blenkinsopthebrave & language. Frank Cottrell-Boyce has things to say on this point in the latest DW magazine.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @thane15- The Girl Who Waited, when Amy got left behind- the most horrific thing is that she didn’t age faster or anything- she was just stuck there for that long!

    Redlemons @redlemons

    Wow all I have to say is I am loving this season so much. Bill is a wonderful companion.  Her views are great.  The fact that she is questions why the seats arent closer to the console,  wondering why he likes the blue box,eating blue jelly and taking pictures with her phone. Perfect, just perfect.

    Frobisher @frobisher

    As ever, I generally agree with you lovely people about this episode: Better than the Forest of the Dead, not as good as The Pilot. I felt that the Doctor and Bill were slightly flat at times. In their defence, I don’t think those emoji robots can have been easy to act against. I would be happy to never see the emoji robots again. The nano-robots (Varda? Vardy?) were good though. Like AI piranhas. I like the possible link to the Vashta Nerada. I would like to see more like that.

    Also, rather amusing that this colony was noted for finding the secret to human happiness. Going forward, it appears the secret is: Be happy, or the walls will eat your flesh and reduce you to nothing but dry bones. Cheery. I wonder what will become of those colonists, and their mental state?

    On another note, that is two weeks running we have had “arse” in the script. While the simile employed is very amusing, I am surprised to hear swearing in Who when it is shown relatively early in the evening. It doesn’t offend me, but it might offend others.

    @phaseshift @cathannabel  Р I am also on board with the Bowie theme. I think it is just the sort of thing the show (and Peter Capaldi) would go for. The Doctor is, after all, our very own Starman.

    “There’s a starman waiting in the sky.

    He’d like to come and meet us
    But he thinks he’d blow our minds.
    There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
    He’s told us not to blow it
    Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.”

    Next week: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)?

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @wolfweed @thane15

    The resemblance between the Van Gogh painting and the opening scene on the planet does not seem all that close to me.  On the one hand the painting is full of swirling movement, from the swooping curve of the path into the foreground and back, to the wind rippled wheat and the wind-tossed crows, and the sky has the hazy, bruised look and sense of turbulence of an oncoming thunderstorm.

    On the other hand the scene which confronts the Doctor and Bill when they emerge from the Tardis is almost entirely static under a clear, windless summer sky and the machine cut path leads arrow straight through the wide expanse of the wheat field to the city.  The beautiful curving lines of the city itself contrast with the symmetrical geometry of the wheatfield, but they are unmoving, pristine white and unsullied by any sign of life Рliterally as it turns out.

    The inspiration for the visual images of the clouds of microbots was almost certainly a murmuration of starlings.  For anyone who has never seen this phenomenon, it happens when tens of thousands of starlings flock to roost in the evening.  Before coming to land they form a cloud swooping back and forth in perfectly coordinated but ever changing patterns; it is a mesmerising sight.  The winter before last there was a large flock roosting on one of the office buildings in Norwich, and I saw them a couple of times when I happened to be in the city centre around sunset.  On the first occasion they were perfectly silhouetted against a clear winter evening sky and people just stopped wherever they were on the street to watch them.


    The ending might seem rushed but, as I wrote in my first post on this thread, it was often thus in old-style Who, and in this case was perfectly logical.¬† The problem was the result of evolution in the self programming of the robots, so the obvious solution was to reboot them, and given the urgency of their predicament, there wasn’t time to launch into an explanation before he acted. And at least the screwdriver was being used appropriately as a tool for fixing something broken.


    I go to the Graun to read Dan Martin’s blog.¬†¬†Occasionally I read some of the BTL comments to get the ‘feeling of the meeting’,¬† but since the flavour is usually sour, I rarely waste further time there.

    Mersey @mersey

    I like Smile better than the Pilot. I like how they succeeded in creating the mood of creepy idyll and the fact that Doctor is stranded in this closed space (like in classic Who). I also like that Bill could show all of her potential and she’s different from previous companions (for now). Funny how they see history. Until the late nineteenth century everything was peaceful and beautiful and only then everything got wrong.

    @wolfweed that can interest you

    Anonymous @

    @mersey me too -I loved it more than the Pilot , if that’s possible.

    @miapatrick thx for explaining that!

    @blenkinsopthebrave – about language, it’s meanings, how what we think and then say is seen by others and Mum said: “there’s a¬†gradual and inevitable corrosion in value of language. ” Don Watson’s Weasel Words is a good one for that.

    @mudlark -maybe I was looking for a connection with the painter? Which confirms my bias? Not sure, but that would be right! ūüôā Oh right, Dam Martin, Does he do a blog every week on this? I read one once and I really saw he picked up a lot of detail

    From Thane.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    “…I can be back before we left!” is very similar to the end of Meglos:

    EARTHLING: … I’ll be in trouble back home.

    DOCTOR: Oh?

    EARTHLING: I told the wife I’d be in from work in twenty minutes.

    DOCTOR: Well, don’t worry about that. We can get you back before you leave.


    Rosemary was considered sacred to the ancient Egyptians…

    Perhaps Bill is Nefertiti’s (& John Riddell’s) granddaughter… (like¬†some hope everyone in Star Wars will turn out to be inter-related – I am your father, she is your sister; she is yer Grandma…)¬†…or maybe just showing pride in her heritage. It’s funny- she holds the bust like she’s mind-wiping it.


    Fleishman actually refers to British chemist Martin Fleischmann who declared¬†he had produced fusion at room temperature in 1989. The process was soon after dubbed ‚Äėcold fusion‚Äô.

    smile facts

    Agree with you @mudlark about the Vardi resembling a murmuration of starlings.

    Thanks @mersey for the link. I’m looking forward to seeing the film.

    MarkTwainsGhost @marktwainsghost

    So, what Easter eggs did y’all spot? This is my first post so please be gentle… but was that a bust of Nefartiti on the ship? Also glimpsed a Van Gogh painting, and yet again we have a companion who sees a “proper spaceship” and goes a little bonkers for it just like Donna. I wonder if that still hurts the Doctor?

    Oddly enough, I am seeing some similarities between Bill and Donna… it’s more like a feel for the show instead of direct comparisons. There is no hope of sexual tension with either, no special powers, a sense of wonder, and both seek out danger with a joy few would have.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @blenkinsopthebrave — also think you’re take on the episode being at least partially about language is spot on. Though I don’t seem to mind emoji as much you or @ pedant ūüėČ

    @mudlark and @wolfweed — the Van Gogh painting is striking, but I think the chances are it’s a striking similarity. I suspect the cornfields were chosen because its a dramatically useful human shorthand for fecundity, harvest, home, safety, all that stuff….

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Composter reminiscent of ‘The Seeds of Doom’…

    Twins suns reminiscent of Tatooine…

    wheat crowz



    Mersey @mersey

    When it comes to the pictures in DW¬†we have another self-portrait, this time it’s Van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Straw Hat, 1887

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Bit late to the party – was out listening to Cosi Fanni Tutti last night (the experimental musician/ artist, not the opera).

    Great catch @pedant @mudlark and everyone on the Vada as proto Vashta Nerada.

    @mersey now that is interesting – second self portrait. I wonder if the Doctor’s 13th incarnation (The Valeyard) is locked in that vault?! Which would be the Doctor keeping watch over a self-portrait, of sorts.

    I refuse to believe Moffat would pass up the chance to visit the delicious story-telling the Valeyard offers – it’s such a great development from the past just waiting to be told in the now. Maybe not, however, given that we’ve been through a “dark Doctor” War Doctor story throught the Nu Who arc…

    As for Erehwon @phaseshift I haven’t read it. BUT it’s a rich title to have referenced. It was a written (in 1872) as a satire on Victorian society, and lo and behold, Victorian London is the Doctor’s next stop.

    Also, apparently, Butler was the first to write about the fact that machines might develop consciousness by Darwinian selection.  There are no machines in Erewhon because the populace deemed them dangerous.

    So the future Erewhon the Doctor and Bill visit is a reverse-mirror of the 1872 Erewhon is some respects. Machines have indeed evolved as feared – the nano-bot robotic Vada are a new species.

    A reverse mirror – another Valeyard clue (the Valeyard being the dark reverse reflection of the Doctor in his other incarnations)?

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Strictly speaking, the Doctor and Bill are not going back to the Victorian era. At the time of the frost fair of 1814 George III was still technically king, though in a somewhat precarious state of health – hence the Regency, his grand daughter¬†Princess Charlotte,¬†at that time second in line to the throne, was still alive and Victoria’s parents were yet to marry so¬†she wasn’t even a twinkle in her father’s eye.

    I am sorry to say that like you I have never got round to reading Erewhon but, according to the summaries and commentaries¬†I have read, the relevance to Smile could be at more than one level.¬† It was, as you say, written¬†as a satire on Victorian society and in¬†form¬†has some¬†resemblance to¬†Swift’s Gulliver’s¬†Travels.¬†The society described is presented as a kind of¬†utopia but on closer examination is hardly that, although not exactly¬†a dystopia either, and one of its features is¬†a belief that reliance on machines is harmful to society – in contrast to the optimistic views of the Victorians themselves at that time.


    I suspect the cornfields were chosen because its a dramatically useful human shorthand for fecundity, harvest, home, safety

    Van Gogh’s cornfield, possibly, although I suspect that landscape near Arles had more to do with his state of mind when he painted it; but¬†to me the expanse of grain in Smile conveyed something else; namely prairie fields, mechanised agriculture and agribusiness on an inhuman scale, which fits the context equally. If I think of harvest, home and safety I am more likely to¬†recall the fields of my¬†childhood, which¬†were still small, bounded by banks and hedgerows and shelter belts of scots pines, and the wheat in the field at the back of our house was not the short variety bred now for the big harvesting machines, but tall enough for my five or six year old self to disappear into and the haunt of corn-crakes and harvest mice. Massey-Harris combine harvesters were a thing of wonder to my brothers and me and our friends, and some farmers in the neighbourhood were still using old-style reaping machines, drawn by horses or little Ferguson tractors.

    nerys @nerys

    @marktwainsghost Oddly enough, I am seeing some similarities between Bill and Donna… it’s more like a feel for the show instead of direct comparisons. There is no hope of sexual tension with either, no special powers, a sense of wonder, and both seek out danger with a joy few would have.

    I agree completely. I find the relationship between Capaldi’s Doc and Bill, and Tennant’s Doc and Donna, to be quite similar. I mentioned last week that as much as I enjoyed Clara, it’s also a relief to have a companion who is not a mystery to be solved (thanks @morpho). She is simply there, absorbing everything and learning as she goes. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed that till last week’s “The Pilot” season premiere. I really enjoy the rapport she and the Doctor are building.

    (Off-topic, but since I mentioned Tennant: I’m bracing myself for tonight’s Broadchurch series finale, which is only now airing in Canada. I also just binge-watched the third season of The Fall. Like Broadchurch, I felt The Fall redeemed itself in the third season, but in a very different style, and one that I’m not sure I cared for. Yet it was better than the second season, so that’s something. Broadchurch, on the other hand, managed to reinvent itself … yet stay true to itself. No small feat … as we know with our beloved Doctor Who!)

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    It seems that I cannot get the current issue of the DW Magazine in my remote part of Canada. I don’t suppose you know what he says on the subject?

    Anonymous @


    Better late (to the party) then never. And how was Throbbing Gristle and COUM? ūüôā Was there applause?

    At least no-one threw tampons (used or otherwise) at Cosey! The book tour’s interesting, isn’t it? Insofar as her book was quite unexpected (I think readers, awaiting this, were¬†nervous?)¬†and the result: sensitive and self-reflective.

    On the valeyard, I’d wondered whether that would feature -perhaps in S8 and yet it turned a different corner.

    Would Moffat pull that out of his vault? I’m intrigued as to the “promise” -is it something we know already, from what was originally seeded or is it completely different? I wondered, as did Thane, whether it goes back to Doctor 1, where, tugging at his lapels, he¬†farewells Susan (but it’s not necessarily that final, after all?).

    @redlemons and others: the blue jelly…slightly fishy…was it algae or could it have included calcium too? Erk ūüôĀ


    Puro, on board.

    DoctorNMISSY @doctornmissy
    geoffers @geoffers


    Oddly enough, I am seeing some similarities between Bill and Donna… it’s more like a feel for the show instead of direct comparisons. There is no hope of sexual tension with either, no special powers, a sense of wonder, and both seek out danger with a joy few would have.

    i’m all for this, donna was my favourite companion! i wonder if they’re setting up a “return to pompeii” story, as was hinted at in capaldi’s first episode, ‘deep breath?’

    as for ‘smile,’ i loved the pacing of this episode. it does harken back to classic who, in that there was a lot of place setting, and development of the story through dialogue, and not a lot of reliance on “things whizzing around,” or time jumps, or quick edits. there was, perhaps, a wee bit too much verbal exposition from the doctor, as he and bill are with the deceased woman, brainstorming about what’s gone wrong, though. and both she and the doctor were criminally slow in realizing that the young boy had just wandered off (classic who)! but, aside from those two things, i was quite happy…

    i have to give props, though, as i really love the writer’s subtle foreshadowing/revealing of what’s going on, in two specific instances (and i only picked up on them after a re-watch):

    the first, when the vardi are swirling around doing surveillance (as the doctor presumes), he says, “do you know what this building is made of? pure, soaring, optimism.” this, as the vardi are shown, soaring and swirling overhead, then he later reveals them to be, literally, what the actual buildings are made of.

    the second, when bill is eating and the doctor is piecing together the mystery, he conjectures that, “the whole place is waiting. we’re just too early.” and bill’s response (referring to her comment about a student union preparing for the students) is, “cause they’re all still in bed.” how right she was… and a nice dig at university students, who spend far too much time (over)sleeping! (i was certainly guilty of this, back in the day.)

    on a slightly different note, am i the only one who wondered, why not just take off all your clothing, if you suspect the robots are monitoring your emotions via the badges, and reacting (murderously) accordingly? surely the colonists would be given basic human privacy, when naked? (either for the obvious purpose of procreation, or the basic necessities, like showering/bathing?) or would the badges adhere to skin, when no clothing is being worn? ewwww…

    (lol, what does it say about me that that would be my go-to response to being threatened by murderous robots? get naked!)

    obviously, the BBC couldn’t/wouldn’t allow the writers to go there… at least, not until ‘doctor who’ is produced by HBO! but it’s probably best not to expect that level of realism from a fantasy/sci-fi show, and to just roll with what’s being presented… ūüėõ

    geoffers @geoffers

    i don’t know how to upload a screencapture to this forum, but do any of our resident eagle-eyed art people know what the huge wall painting is, in the very furthest background, when the doctor is on his way to the engine room? (it’s in the scene where he picks up the nefertiti bust…)

    ichabod @ichabod

    Got to it today, and “Smile” made me smile; I especially like that contrast, “Wet brain; dry brain”.

    I like Bill very much. ¬†CapDoc’s comment, “No one’s ever looked at it like that before” is a summary of why she brings this fresh feeling to the show — she has an eye for practicality and a nice logical style of thinking, so she asks the questions that a smart person would ask about what she sees around her. ¬†The questions are good enough that when he gives a lecture-y answer (or an off-the-wall one), there’s no flavor of male authority figure ‘splainin’ stuff to female bubblehead. ¬†It’s much more like colleague to new colleague. ¬†Good choice!

    And I appreciate a further comment on the “promise” he seems to casually break when he takes Bill out in the Tardis; there’s an alarm, he says, that will let him know if something goes wrong wit the vault. ¬†On the other hand, if that’s the case, why hasn’t he gone jaunting off earlier, with Nardole, since he can always zip back to the time before the alarm went off and deal with the situation before it becomes a problem?

    MissRori @missrori

    An intriguing question, @ichabod. ¬†Perhaps it is not just that the promise has a strong hold on the Doctor, but his loneliness as well. ¬†Nardole is a fine valet, but the Doctor’s loneliness after so much loss still runs deep. ¬†Perhaps he was thankful for something to keep him “grounded”, as it were, instead of curling up into a ball of sorrow. ¬†People came and went for 50+ years, none of them quite exciting his curiosity enough for him to reach out again, to excite his wanderlust. ¬†But at last it’s begun to chafe, and Bill comes along…

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    @blenkinsopthebrave ¬†Still waiting for my own copy of DW Magazine to make it here (also in Canada but not such a remote part I suspect) but Dan Martin quoted a section of the interview in his Guardian review of the episode. Here it is: “I love watching what happens with emojis, how people use them for different things, and the change of meaning of them; it feels like a growing language, a universal language of some sort. This episode was always about utopia and utopian ideas. It seems to me that the emoji is a utopian idea. It‚Äôs this yearning for a language that‚Äôs universal, and doesn‚Äôt depend on literacy and allows you to be creative and funny with it. The messages that kids send with emoji are really funny, and at the same time there‚Äôs something really touching about it.”

    @mudlark Very good points on the sonic, but on a second view tonight it still felt like a bit of a missed opportunity for more from the Doctor in performing the reboot.

    Another impression from a second view is that, as in Smile, the Doctor making a big blunder can make for an exciting episode, as in the manner of BG Horror of Fang Rock when¬†we get a very rare admission from the 4th Doctor: “Leela, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I thought I’d locked the enemy out. Instead I’ve locked it in… with us!'”

    @ichabod ¬†@missrori As well as “promise,” there has been a reference to “promises” and Nardole referred to an “oath.” To whom or what has the Doctor made his promises/promise/oath? The being(s) in the vault (assuming there are beings in there)? To himself? To a Keeper of the Vault?

    ichabod @ichabod

    @missrori ¬†¬† Perhaps he was thankful for something to keep him ‚Äúgrounded‚ÄĚ,

    Maybe he has been, and felt that he needed a “resting life”. ¬†And teaching in a university setting is a good way to be around young people and be useful to them without expectations of very close bonds developing to any individual.

    So along comes Bill . . . and all bets are off.

    I like it.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @countscarlioni ¬†¬† there has been a reference to ‚Äúpromises‚ÄĚ and Nardole referred to an ‚Äúoath.‚ÄĚ To whom or what has the Doctor made his promises/promise/oath? The being(s) in the vault (assuming there are beings in there)? To himself? To a Keeper of the Vault?

    Yeah! ¬†How nice to have something to grab onto that *isn’t* “The Doctor is dying!” ¬†What promise, and to whom?


    Anonymous @


    Yes, Donna! Wasn’t she wonderful? It’s interesting to me how a resident comedian (and I hadn’t seen much of her work in Aus) can do drama so very well. I recall her shock and misery at the existential pain and singing of the Ood and how the Doctor couldn’t transcend that unified voice. For him it was always there. Donna could project humour and awe beautifully. I think Tennant’s final season was so successful because of her, in part. When she lost the memories of her experience it was like death…

    Interesting how Bill has a great sense of humour and of course, “recognises a mind wipe. I’ve seen the movies…!”



    Mudlark @mudlark


    do any of our resident eagle-eyed art people know what the huge wall painting is, in the very furthest background

    It’s The Raft of the Medusa, painted by Gericault in 1818/19 currently in the Louvre.¬† A bit tricky to make out at first, because it’s been stood on its side and there are various objects in the way, but identifiable if you pause the screen and tilt your head to the left.

    It’s a rather odd choice of picture for optimists hoping to found a utopia to choose to take with them because, although it depicts¬†survivors of a disaster, the story behind it is pretty gruesome. The Medusa was a frigate in the French Navy which ran aground off the coast of West Africa in 1816. Around 150 of the crew escaped on a makeshift raft, but their supply of food and water was minimal and by the time they were rescued only 15 were still alive. Some had succumbed to dehydration or jumped or fallen overboard, and some had been killed fighting among themselves or been murdered, and the flesh of the dead had been eaten.¬† It was a huge scandal in France at the time.

    The painting pretty much made Gericault’s reputation.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Thanks for that. The quote is quite interesting, particularly given that use of the emojis in the context of the story and its impact on the colonists is neither funny nor touching but dark and deadly. It is a uptopia gone very, very wrong.

    nerys @nerys

    @thane15 Yes, Donna! Wasn’t she wonderful? It’s interesting to me how a resident comedian (and I hadn’t seen much of her work in Aus) can do drama so very well. I recall her shock and misery at the existential pain and singing of the Ood and how the Doctor couldn’t transcend that unified voice. For him it was always there. Donna could project humour and awe beautifully. I think Tennant’s final season was so successful because of her, in part. When she lost the memories of her experience it was like death…

    Puro, you have pinpointed exactly what I loved about Donna. It was her openhearted humanity, and how deeply she felt for, respected and cared about other beings. Yet by contrast she had a fun, jaunty relationship with the Doctor, one that wasn’t weighed down, as Rose’s and Martha’s were, by expectations of reciprocity. My heart still aches at the erasure of Donna’s memories with the Doctor. All these years later, I still find myself wanting her memories to be restored, even though according to Tennant’s Doc, it’s impossible. Donna can’t carry those memories in her mind and live. But it also means she is robbed of all the experiences which made her realize her own greatness.


    @mudlark @geoffers

    It’s The Raft of the Medusa, painted by Gericault in 1818/19 currently in the Louvre.  A bit tricky to make out at first, because it’s been stood on its side and there are various objects in the way, but identifiable if you pause the screen and tilt your head to the left.

    The cyberman special edition, from the Under Gallery, perhaps.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    I’m just loving this series so far. As others have pointed out, the plot of this episode wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, but was interesting and effectively done. Nice visuals. As with last week’s, I’m enjoying the calmer pace. @jimthefish mentioned Tom Baker. I felt that connection in many ways from the start of Capaldi’s run (despite the wardrobe referencing Pertwee), and I agree that it feels even stronger this series.

    I found the opening scenes disturbing enough that I actually thought, ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know if I‚Äôm going to enjoy this one!‚ÄĚ But using those scenes to establish the threat actually allowed the story to breathe a lot more. We knew the danger facing Bill and the Doctor, so we didn‚Äôt have to be reminded constantly, and thus were allowed more time with the characters‚ÄĒessential in this case, as we are just getting to know Bill, and Bill is just getting to know the Doctor. But this is always my favourite approach to fiction. I like to see moments of normality, and humour, and in recent years, the stories haven‚Äôt always allowed for that. I expect that as the series ramps up, so will the action, but for now, I‚Äôm really enjoying the pace.

    Absolutely agree with @blenkinsopthebrave regarding language and communication as themes. It‚Äôs interesting to see ideas that have been explored by writers of previous generations being looked at again using today‚Äôs currency. In that light, I had no problem with the resolution. Mr. Arbutus works in IT, and his first questions when anyone experiences glitchy tech are ‚ÄúDid you try rebooting it? Did you try unplugging and replugging?‚ÄĚ Oddly enough, this does frequently work.

    I’m not a big user of emojis, although a fair number of hearts and smiley faces go back and forth between myself and the other Arbutuses (probably because we text one another pretty frequently). I have been known to send out beer/wine/cocktail emojis near the end of a tough day!

    Noted: For someone so sci-fi savvy (‚ÄúI know a mind wipe when I see one‚ÄĚ), I thought Bill was a little slow in understanding the nature of the pods. Oh well, maybe she and I haven‚Äôt read the same books! ūüôā

    Headbob @headbob

    I must learn to have more faith. ¬†I’m always prepared to dislike the new companions and I’m almost always pleasantly surprised when I start to adore them. ¬†(It took me a while to come around to Pond, bothered me she wasn’t kinder to Rory).

    I find Bill even more Interesting and charming this week.  Her fear as she wondered why the settlers had left earth and her grief as she started to realize the answer.  Her enthusiasm for the blue food cube. When she realized she could just snap a picture of the map.  She makes me smile.

    Oh hey that’s the name of the episode.

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