As far as Series 11 goes, Kerblam! may just be my favourite episode so far. Other’s have had plenty of great plot / scenes/ intent/ passion/ style but for me Kerblam! could sit comfortably in any series of the show as a decent episode, ticking all the boxes big and small and providing a piece of sci-fi themed entertainment. A little bit of politics and lot to like.
Let’s go deeper into this most satisfying of episodes…
My only real gripe is the beginning. I get annoyed at the idea any random beam / teleport / transmat can penetrate the TARDIS shields as long as it’s only meant to be funny. I assume the TARDIS wasn’t in the vortex, or can Kerblam! send packages across time? Really handy if you miss a birthday, or want to send yourself an extra gift for your tenth birthday… I digress.
Of all the episodes so far, this one gave me the biggest sense of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. The start was all fangirl and excitable, but once the manager Jarva Slade (Callum Dixon) was bullying poor Kira Arlo (the brilliant Claudia Jessie), we got an angry Doctor with real passion and strength. Later scenes where she lay down the law to management were carried by the power of the performance, Peter McTighe’s script and Jennifer Perrot’s direction.
This brings me onto the wider cast. I’m a big fan of Claudia Jessie, having just watched her in Vanity Fair as Amelia Sedley. Kira was likeable and doomed. Her falling victim to the mystery of the warehouse and eventual death were well paced and suitably tragic.
Speaking of death, Charley, the villain of the piece got his just desserts, and again Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor was able to see justice (of a form) done though showed regret he couldn’t be saved.
Lee Mack’s cameo (Dan Cooper) was great, and much understated in the media build-up, and another death.
I’m not saying we need a high body count for good drama, but this was a veneer of niceness over a sinister core, and weren’t the robots creepy?
I also liked Julie Hesmondhalgh’s Judy Maddox. I had guessed she might be a villain, instead she was a really decent persons trying to do well in constrained circumstances. Even Slade wasn’t really a villain, neither were the sinister robots or the AI system. It was as light touch, but we did get touches of Amazon, growth of AI, threat to jobs but all without direct confrontation. A bit idealistic perhaps, but no capitalist conspiracies were overthrown (this time).
Graham had some useful moments, Yaz connected pieces together and Ryan’s character had lots of relevant background. Almost as if the show was designed and not thrown together!
I could go on, but really this episode just worked for me, and I managed to watch and enjoy with critical facilities turned off until afterwards. Good stuff!
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