This week, the TARDIS team were delivered to Kerblam! where they investigated a mystery involving sinister robots, killer bubble wrap. But what did our team make of Kerblam!? Let’s find out…
If you’ve been following my reviews, you may have picked up that I’ve been quite disappointed by most of series 11 so far. But thankfully Pete McTighe has pulled it back with Kerblam!
The episode was clearly a statement on how technology is taking over and the workings of large corporations and delivery services. But, contrary to other episodes, it wasn’t blatantly stated. The underlying message was packaged (no pun intended) into a fun, exciting story. It feels like this episode has taken a step back to a more traditional Doctor Who, especially with the ‘deadly bubble wrap idea’ – taking an everyday item and making it scary.
I also loved the nods to past Doctors and adventures. From the Eleventh Doctor’s fez obsession to the Tenth Doctor’s adventure with Agatha Christie, these moments help to tie the series together as one and give a little treat to fans.
The guest and supporting actors have been a bit hit and miss this series, but Dan Cooper (Lee Mack) and Kira Arlo (Claudia Jessie) are two of my favourites this series. I was expecting Lee Mack’s character to be given loads of naff jokes – similar to Catherine Tate and Matt Lucas – but aside from a few crackers, he was actually a really kind, charming character with quite an emotional backstory.
Similarly, Kira is a nice, innocent character who is instantly likeable. But of course, this is Doctor Who, so they were both bumped off. I don’t often talk to the screen when watching a TV show, but I was genuinely shouting “No! Don’t open it!” when Kira was unwrapping her gift. To be killed after one of the few moments of kindness in her life… man, that’s so sad. And so powerful.
The TARDIS team is on top form this week and it finally feels like each one of them had something to do. Ryan was in the packing area, Yaz was in the warehouse and Graham was in maintenance.
The Doctor also displays both infectious excitement and impressive authority, although some of her actions seem a little questionable. Making all of the robots essentially self-destruct appears to contradict her earlier comment about Ryan being ‘robophobic’. And while she does try to persuade Charlie to move, she doesn’t exactly go out of her way to help him escape.
Throughout the episode, we’re led to believe it could be either the management, the robots or the system, but it’s finally revealed to be Charlie, the maintenance man. I did not see that coming! Thankfully, the surprise reveal overshadowed the fact that we have yet another human villain. What happened to all these monsters that Chris Chibnall promised?
Overall, this is easily my favourite episode of series 11 and a fun, traditional episode with some great characters, memorable moments and interesting twists. I really hope we see more from Pete McTighe in future.
Kerblam! kept the ‘current real life extrapolating into the future’ wonderfully as the destiny of Amazon-style warehouses became so intense that the system itself had to ask for help!
I absolutely loved the design in this episode, with a company that looks like a well established brand, complete with iconic robot postmen.
I am increasingly fascinated by the companions, with another strong performance from Mandip Gil and Tosin Cole. Their chemistry is really flowing now and ‘Grandad Graham’ keeps everyone more or less in order… except maybe the Doctor. Good going for proving the sceptics wrong Bradley Walsh!
And of course, I have to point out how Jodie Whittaker IS the Doctor through and through. The episode provides another very impressive performance from Jodie Whittaker, who’s smallest of wry facial gestures has me grinning, and then she’ll wickedly act the 13th Doctor pulling out that nun ninja move and prove to us again guns are bad.
Kerblam! is mostly light hearted but with enough evil to make this episode shine, as have many of the others. And never ignore a Fez!
This episode was a surprise to be sure but a welcome one. I had set the bar really low for the rest of series 11 as I had been disappointed with the start of the series.
The episode had a fantastic concept that really did pull it off extremely well, better than I initially thought. The guest stars were considerably better and I started to really get used to Jodie’s doctor and see her own the part much more than the previous episodes.
Graham is still as fantastic and is really growing as character and had some great scenes. Yaz is also getting a bit more development, but I still can’t see any with Ryan. However, they all worked great together in the episode and delivered great performances.
The robots were creepy and the villain was a great plot twist. It was lovely to have to some throwbacks to the fez and even the Unicorn and The Wasp. The music was great and really improved since the first episode in my opinion.
The special effects haven’t disappointed, even in the delivery chute scene which reminded me obviously of Toy Story 2 and really felt like the scene would fit in with a Russel T Davies episode.
All in all the episode didn’t disappoint, but I’m keeping the bar low so I can be happily surprised each week till the finale!
Kerblam, last Sunday’s episode of Doctor Who was quite a fun watch. There seemed less over-usage of the Doctor’s sonic and the character interactions were well balanced. The casting was great and the call backs to past episodes of Doctor Who were brilliant. They were well done subtle nods without taking away from the actual story.
This story’s theme felt very reminiscent of one of the elements I liked about Steven Moffat’s writing from when he worked on the show. By that of course I mean the idea of taking something commonplace in our daily lives and making it absolutely terrifying. Moffat managed to give Whovians a fear of angel statues (Blink) and simple tally marks (The Impossible Astronaut). This episode attempted the same task with bubble wrap. However, it did seem to have less impact for me. I believe this is due to the bubble wrap only being something to fear within the last few minutes of the episode, rather than a common issue through out the story. Had this not been the case I believe this holiday season would be far more scary for Whovians ordering their gifts to be shipped to their homes.
I did also rather enjoy the computer system being a bit of a red herring. We were set up to be suspicious of the Kerblam system when in fact, the human element was the real issue, lurking behind the scenes. It was a great way of manipulating the audience in order to provide a new perspective by using one’s biases and natural initial inclinations against them.
The villain in Kerblam was very well formed, which I greatly appreciate. They had a logical train of thought that pushed them to make a massively inhumane solution to what they saw as a serious and detrimental problem. Of course once again the Doctor saved the day but was unable to save everyone. This appears to be a trend in series 11.
My favourite character from Kerblam was the adorable, albeit obsolete sales bot, Twirly. The poor reluctant and confused bot got a bit more than a “tickle” in this episode. I loved every scene with Twirly. His lines were so cleverly written. I just have one question: Where can I get a Twirly of my very own?