Friday, 2 June 2017

TV Review No. 52 Doctor Who: Oxygen (S10, Ep5)

Strong Points:
Diversity and capitalism quips
Star Trek reference
Interesting concept, tied to the theme
Great CGI
Actual and immediate consequences for the Doctor
Chilling look at the corporate world

Weak Points:
Could be seen as a bit heavy handed when delivering the message
Some bits just have to be seen as 'happening'
The final phrase sounded off

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
It's always nice when a large TV show references another one - it's a reward for fans and just gives it a slightly more inclusive feel. However, Doctor Who's reference to Star Trek's infamous quote 'space, the final frontier' is given a distinctly Whovian spin by changing the meaning from hope and progress to death and fear - space is the final frontier as it will probably kill you. Lovely. What's also lovely is that CGI in space, showing that Doctor Who may have finally been given a budget.

More red-shirts this episode, with four astronauts still alive after the preceding events - two men, a woman and a blue alien. I wouldn't normally mention their race or gender but it's quite important to the series theme of racism, and Bill's and Dahh-Ren's conversation about race (and Nardole's quip) was great to watch, giving a different view to the proceedings. It would have had more impact though if we hadn't had most of the series also having little conversations about race. Overall though, the new red-shirts were as good as expected, and not a lot else.

The chilling theme of Oxygen was based on that eponymous, life-giving resource of oxygen and what if it was privatised to corporations to sell? *shudder*. Not only is this episode set in space where oxygen is rather limited, but any oxygen you do have is bought using credits, increasing the *running out of time* aspect of the episode further. And that's impressive, seeing as they don't run very far, in the episode. We also had the suits, programmed to remove the inhabitants of the unprofitable space station and while not particularly scary in reality (the old zombie walking slowly towards us has been done to *ahem* death), the idea that these aids to work could kill us with relative ease, even when we cling to them for survival was terrifying to think about.

Capitalism message - metaphor (space suits are business suits), heavy handed. Another major theme of this episode was extreme capitalism and the overall reaction to this episode will probably change slightly depending on your own political views. I'm not going to give my opinion on the ideas of capitalism here (that's just too big of a hot bed) but I did like how the episode went about it and the metaphor that the space suits were the business suits was great. Another scary thought though was the idea of the people just becoming resources, and only surviving as it would be cost-effective to keep them alive at this point. Now, I'm sure it won't get that bad for the foreseeable future, but it's definitely food for thought.

I was a bit sceptical when we found out The Doctor was blind, and sure enough, he said he could fix it as soon as he got back to the Tardis, using some gizmo so that it wouldn't have any knock-on effects for next week's episode. Then it didn't work - a twist I wasn't expecting although probably should've as Capaldi starts to wind down his time as The Doctor. He play's being blind well as well, subtly telling us a lot, even without the use of his eyes, although I did feel his final exclamation of 'I'm still blind' came off a bit stilted and flat (it could be because we couldn't see him at this point).

Conclusion: Overall, I liked Oxygen, it brought in more scares than Knock Knock and it will be interesting to see how The Doctor copes with his newfound blindness. Onto next week!

Rating: 85%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

Note: supposedly this was originally meant to be a prequel to Mummy on the Orient Express, which would've been just awesome, but I guess they were trying for a more theme-based than story-based instalment this time around. Maybe we'll see Gus some other time.


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