Saturday, May 13, 2017

Doctor Who--"Oxygen"

     When I saw the trailer for “Oxygen,' I braced myself for an unoriginal story The Doctor and his companions trapped somewhere with a ticking clock counting towards their doom? Half a dozen episodes come to mind with some variation of the plot. I was pleasantly surprised to find the story unique in most regards, but turned off by some heavy moralizing over the exaggerated evils of capitalism.
      The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole are in the TARDIS on their way to answer a distress signal from a mining space station. Upon arrival, the TARDIS is jettisoned requiring the trio to don smart space suits in order to survive. The mining company I so cheap, it doe not provide oxygen on the station. The miners wear smart suits that manage the oxygen supply by the individual breath. Some suits malfunctioned. Those rendered the occupant under the control of the suit, so they walk around like zombies hunting the few survivors.
     The trio lead the survivors on a space walk to a safe part of the station. Bill's suit malfunctions, so the Doctor gives her his helmet. They all make it through the space walk, but the pressure of space causes the Doctor to go blind. Even without his sight, the doctor saves the day by setting the self-destruct to begin if they die, which convince the zombies their deaths would be too expensive for the mining company.
     When it is all said and done, Nardole restores the Doctor's eyesight. After Bill leaves his office at the university, the doctor reveals he is still blind. Nardole panics. Whatever threat the two are facing in the running storyline for the series cannot know the doctor is incapacitated in any way or Earth faces a grave threat.
    I thought “Oxygen” was an exciting episode in general. The creepiness factor was especially high for the zombies in both movement and make up. I was impressed to see what appears to be a handicap introduced for the Doctor which is going to last for a while. I was certainly expecting the blindness to be cured immediately. I even groaned upon the revelation the space walk had blinded him. The no reset button at the conclusion was a shocker.
    But it would have been nice if the writer had used a different catalyst for the events of the story other than evil, evil corporatism. The mining company is so nickel and dime, it refuses to include life support for its workers instead, it provides spacesuits that manage by each breath. The spacesuits malfunction, so everybody tuns into the walking dead until the situation is too expensive to continue. If this was an isolated incident, it would be a one off tragedy. But this is said to be typical of the penny pinching company, and it cause a worker revolt the Doctor cheers on. It reeks of anti-capitalist hyperbole. Dial it down a few notches!
    The moralizing doe not detract too much from my enjoyment of “Oxygen.” There is much more to like than dislike.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

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