Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Kiran L. Dadlani, Mina Anwar, Ralf Little, Kalungi Ssebandeke, Kira Shah, Craig Gardener.
Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and your likely to have little time left in your life to worry about such matters as emotion, at least that is how it is presented by the excellent Merseyside writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce in the superb second story of the new series of Doctor Who.
Landing on one of Earth’s first colonies after the Solar Flare ravaged the planet, all is peaceful in this new Garden of Eden and optimism and happiness go hand in hand. What if though, the garden held a snake, one that saw human unhappiness, a single tear as something to distrust, to fear, a smile does not always hide the grief but it can save your life.
Rarely does Doctor Who in the new age of the series have a story that is as enjoyable as the season opener, that might be considered a natural successor to the classic Who stories of old, one that in many ways stands aside with purpose with classics such as The Talons of Weng-Chiang or The Robots of Death, Smile does that because the writer understands that just by smiling you can confuse, disarm and defeat an enemy. A smile on the face of the one under pressure is enough to confound even the greatest of foes, for they cannot see the hurt or the grief that you possess and whilst it is more than alright to cry, to show emotion, to show grief at losing someone, under the watchful eyes of those who have caused the pain, they receive a greater kick of enjoyment, for suffering is perpetual, a smile causes doubt.
Only a writer with added wonderful musical knowledge can ever pull of a single line that might be misread and treated as a throw away treat, however to use a line from David Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes and see the connotation with the bones of the settlers shows just how far a writer’s connection can go; it is a connection that is both alluring and far reaching, it shows just how much Mr. Capaldi’s incarnation of the Doctor will be missed, the word play and the furious eyebrows will be pined for when his stint at the helm is over.
Smile, for the world is watching, smile it confuses the hell out of the detractors and those that want to see you suffer, smile, for in that single emotion is the greatest act of vengeance possible. Smile because Time needs writers like Mr. Cottrell-Boyce in its sphere of influence.
Ian D. Hall