Doctor Who airs Sunday nights on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in North America. Time slots may vary.
The series stars Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan, Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair and Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien.
A mysterious message arrives in a package addressed to the Doctor, leading her, Graham, Yaz and Ryan to investigate the warehouse moon orbiting Kandoka, and the home of the galaxy’s largest retailer.
It was inevitable at this would happen. After seven episodes varying from great to excellent Doctor Who was bound to have a simply okay episode eventually. “Kerblam!” is that episode. Let’s be fair, this is not a bad episode. It just doesn’t hold attention like its predecessors.
The storyline based in the one location mirrors that of “The Tsuranga Conundrum” (reviewed here) from a couple of weeks ago. It’s a heavily self-contained story but one which relies much more heavily on its gimmick.
Once again there’s a parallel to real life. With questions about the validity of AI and its place in the world at the forefront this is definitely another episode which aims to make the audience think. The problem is that it doesn’t feel strong enough to fill an entire episode. The classic Doctor Who trope of workers in the factory disappearing feels tired and overplayed.
That is my main issue with this episode as a whole. Beyond its bells and whistles it’s quite predictable. Twists are obvious, character relationships between the guest stars are all too familiar and it all adds up to a disappointment.
But it’s not all bad. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor remains charismatic throughout proceedings. Her anti-gun speeches add the new normal political flare to the story. Her excitement at visiting the Kerblam! factory is also a highpoint. Nothing is quite as exciting as receiving a fez at the beginning of the episode.
Character development belongs to Ryan this week. Tosin Cole does an excellent job of opening up about Ryan’s problems in the work place and his struggle to get to grips with new tasks. His character breaks the mould for a Doctor Who companion. I really hope he sticks around for a while. He adds a level of vulnerability which really helps to round out the cast.
Graham and Yaz take a bit of a back seat this week. Both have some small, nice moments both comedic and emotional. In the past I’ve felt that Doctor Who has struggled when its cast is a little larger. This time around the show has been able to strike a good balance for its characters.
Special effects are on point this week. As is the set design for the Kerblam! factory. Though some areas seem a little sparse it’s clear a lot of work went in to making sure it really popped on the screen. Though not as bright as the ship in “The Tsuranga Conundrum” it still looked great.
This episode Doctor Who veered off course a little. Whilst not a miss by any stretch of the imagination it doesn’t hold attention like previous episodes. The generic storyline is easily lifted by charismatic performances by its cast.
Coming up next week “The Witchfinders”…