Emojibots! F***ing Emojibots! You know what? They were pretty scary!
Who would have thought 4-foot-tall robots who communicate with smileys and skulls on their face would be so terrifying and so cute at the same time! The Doctor takes Bill on her first real trip in the TARDIS and it’s a journey that you will never forget.
Let’s first congratulate Frank Cottrell-Boyce on creating a brilliant episode (he wrote ‘In The Forest Of The Night’ in 2014, one of the worst in Doctor Who history). Frank, who has written the charming book Millions and the fantastic film 24 Hour Party People, has given us a very thoughtful and thought-provoking episode of Doctor Who which will both shock and entertain in equal measure.
‘Smile’ sees The Doctor and Bill travel to a colony world being prepared for humans to take refuge after having to leave earth. With the opening show the eradication of the humans there, we then see The Doctor and Bill as they reach the colony and come into contact with the Emojibots. They present the duo with discs which monitor their moods. The bots are shown to be happy when the humans are happy. When they aren’t happy…s**t happens! Barely escaping with their lives, The Doctor insists he needs to go back to destroy them. But, is that the right thing to do?
There are plenty of topics that we are used to in Doctor Who on show here. The concept of death and moving on, maintaining the future of the human race, reliance on technology and keeping peace. We also get to see Bill question what actually happens to earth and the human race. This isn’t the first time we get this discussion in the show, but it is always good to have a reminder when cast and audience change/develop over the years.
Though this episode is rather darker in tone, can we agree this was rather funny too? Matt Lucas may have only had about 90 seconds of screen time, but he does manage to pack about 3 or 4 great comical lines in. Then we get the penguin comment again from Bill and then the mention of rent (watch the episode and you will see) does make a great laugh too! Peter Capaldi puts in another great performance, but Pearl Mackie once again manages to steal the show. For someone who hasn’t had a lot of TV roles before becoming the new companion, Mackie has proven herself to be a truly wonderful actress and she is playing a role that many can relate to.
A good episode of Doctor Who requires three things. A great script (once again, well done Frank!), fantastic acting and a memorable villain. This episode delivers on all three. Apart from the opening 5 minutes and the last 10-15 minutes, the only actors you have on screen is Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie (plus the guys playing the bots). It is testament to Doctor Who that an episode can be both intimate and epic at the same time. We go to the future, we explore a new world and a spaceship, but we have hardly any actors throughout the episode.
This episode made me almost think this could have worked as a Black Mirror story. Emoji is almost a language in its own right now, who knows how much it will get used in the future. I could imagine that if we do end up with robots assisting us, this could be what we get. The stories which you take away with you are the ones that could be real…and robots which work to your mood could be very likely to happen in the future, and that would scare me!
Funny, shocking, thoughtful and a tough one to beat!
Final rating: 9.5/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove
Final Thought: Ralf Little has a part in the episode, for about 5 minutes!
Next Week: The Doctor and Bill are both literally on ‘Thin Ice’!