Saturday, April 22, 2017

Doctor Who--"Smile"

    With the fear of the rising influence of artificial intelligence fresh I the minds of your average geeks and nerds, it is only logical Doctor who would air an episode n the topic. I am not so certain the episode should feature cute robots that utilize emojis, but here it is. I work with what the Whovian creative teams gives me, folks.
     The Doctor and bill travel to a seemingly empty Earth colony in the far future. Only tiny robots called Vandy roam about. Thy offer the Doctor and Bill patches which reflect their moods. Te Doctor surmises the colonists are still en route, but thinks it is odd there is no advanced crew waiting for them. Things become disturbing when the Doctor discovers human remains are being used as fertilizer. So there was an advance crew. Upon realizing any show of sane or distress will prompt the Vandy to kill whoever is experiencing the emotion, the doctor decides to destroy the colony before its future inhabitants arrive.
     It is not that simple as Bill discovers the colonists are actually in hibernation. He also discovers the explanation for what went wrong. One of the flight crew died. The others grieved. The Vandy had no idea what grief was and interpreted it as an illness. Anyone who felt sad was killed. The deaths caused a wave a sadness, so a large number of people were killed. When the colonists come out of hibernation and discover their friends and family dead at the hands of the Vandy, they want to fight. They are no match for the Vandy, so the doctor saves the day by turning the Vandy off and on again to wipe their memory.
   I suppose the solution is clever, but it is also underwhelming considering the story's conflict. Why would the doctor do something as drastic as destroy the colony when he could have simply turned the Vandy off? The resolution would have made for a boring episode, but it would have been a more logical one.
    Doctor Who often suffers a sophomore slump after a strong start to a new series. While “Smile” edges out some other examples I could name, it has some flaws that are difficult to overlook. The story runs lowly for a long time with reams of exposition only to run through the climax at break neck speed. Some aspects of the Vandy, such as understanding human emotion through the use of emoji, are downright silly. But “Smile” is saved largely by the growing relationship between the Doctor and Bill. They are a fun pair to watch. More fun than mot of “Smile.”
      Rating: ** (out of 5)

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