Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Kieran Bow, Justin Salinger, Lewis McGowan, Mimi Ndiweni, Peter Caulfield, Katie Brayben, Clem So.
All that you need is the air that you breathe…and a superbly written Doctor Who story in which the means of Capitalism are shown for what they truly are, the means of control, supply and demand and when demand for labour is non-existent, the way that the economic and political structure survives is to terminate all who cost too much to be involved.
The Doctor Who episode of Oxygen is perhaps one of the most obvious political statements in the entire history of the long running science fiction programme, an episode that keenly shows right from the beginning that the certainty of Capitalism is deeply flawed but we continue to somehow believe in it, that we somehow rejoice as a country when the free market takes us for a ride and we don’t understand when the bubble bursts.
The addition of third companion to the Doctor is always perhaps a contentious one. In the classic series it was always considered to be the norm, the balance between one questioning the Timelord and the other siding with the logic displayed was arguably never better when Tegan and Nyssa accompanied both Tom Baker and Peter Davison’s incarnation of the Doctor. The logic and the emotional balance though has not always sat well since the series returned in 2005 and the relationship between Amy and Rory and Matt Smith’s time at the helm withstanding, every other time there has been three or more in the Blue Box, it has felt overcrowded, despite all the space, it becomes too claustrophobic.
Matt Lucas’s character of Nardole has been the case in point till this episode. Oxygen though sees the personification of the character truly come of age and it is with a sense of charm, of absolute genius on both the writer, Jamie Mathieson, and Mr. Lucas’s part that the anger and humour exist beautifully in harmony and doesn’t impinge at all on the relationship between The Doctor and Bill; a time when three in the bed is cosy indeed.
The finale of the episode is also one of the great cliff hangers of the entire show, the Doctor is never more dangerous when placed into the grip of uncertainty and it is with a flourish that Peter Capaldi plays this to the absolute limit and with great achievement.
Oxygen is a fantastic storyline which no doubt will receive very negative attention due to its political statement but one that deserves full endorsement as a captivating and genuinely sincere episode.
Ian D. Hall