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Doctor Who review: Kerblam a 'missed opportunity' despite special guest stars

Friday 23rd November 2018
Julie_hesmondhalgh

Like a parcel stuck in a distribution hub, there was a good idea trying forlornly to get out of the latest Doctor Who episode’s muddled script.

A measure of what a missed opportunity Kerblam was is that despite the presence of Lee Mack, the best comedy moments went to a tinny little drone called Twirly. Two weeks after the patchy The Tsuranga Conundrum, it felt frustratingly like Doctor Who has only learned how to do history properly by forgetting how to do science fiction.

The episode saw Team Tardis go undercover to work at the moon-sized warehouse of space delivery company Kerblam, to investigate a cry for help written on the Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) delivery slip. They quickly learned that the human workers—a minority amid their robotic TeamMates—were being monitored to the extreme. One robo-supervisor creepily kept reminding Yaz (Mandip Gil) and her new pal Dan (Mack) to save any social interactions until their break.

This is subject matter as important as any in 21st century Britain. Behind the news stories about working conditions at high-profile firms is a mental health epidemic. The episode’s 6 million overnight viewers must have overlapped with the 5 million people who suffer work-related stress, depression and anxiety each year in Britain. And, as we’ve been reminded since episode one of the new series, Doctor Who regular Ryan (Tosin Cole) is himself a warehouse worker.

Next Doctor Who odds

Yet for some reason Ryan was the most marginalised character this week, his insights into the job limited to one sentence about how not all work is fulfilling and another about sliding down a delivery chute.

We heard about things that should be stressful, but no-one ever looked stressed. The only warehouse operative we met after swiftly-dispatched-Dan was Kira (Claudia Jessie), whose ceaseless cheerfulness tested viewers’ suspension of disbelief as much as their patience—and whose own fate was a step backwards in the series’ portrayal of women.

Any point was lost in a confused conspiracy plot whose twist ending was that the company, the robots and the bosses (Julie Hesmondhalgh and Callum Dixon) were actually nice and the only problem was the one worker with the wherewithal to be disgruntled (Leo Flanagan).

Almost as lost was the potentially fun motif of killer bubble-wrap. Kerblam might calm down the bores who complain that Doctor Who is too politically correct these days, but it isn’t good for much else.

Next Doctor Who odds

Michaela Coel 7/1
Kris Marshall 7/1
Maxine Peake 8/1
Natalie Dormer 8/1
Tom Rosenthal 10/1
David Harewood 11/1
Vicky Mcclure 12/1
Phoebe Waller-Bridge 14/1
James Norton 14/1
Tilda Swinton 16/1
Richard Rankin 16/1
Jenna Coleman 20/1
Olivia Colman 20/1
Andrew Buchan 25/1
Paterson Joseph 25/1
Ben Whishaw 33/1
James Purefoy 33/1
Maisie Williams 33/1
Robert Carlyle 33/1
Richard Ayoade 33/1
Tom Ellis 33/1
Joanne Froggatt 33/1
Richard Madden 33/1
Zawe Ashton 33/1
Lara Pulver 33/1
Suranne Jones 33/1
Amanda Mealing 33/1
Sheridan Smith 33/1
Katie Mcgrath 33/1
Rory Kinnear 40/1
Alice Eve 40/1
Catherine Tate 40/1
Daniel Kaluuya 40/1
Andy Serkis 40/1
Charlotte Rampling 40/1
Russell Tovey 40/1
Andrew Scott 40/1
Michelle Dockery 40/1
Helen Mirren 40/1
Sacha Dhawan 40/1
Alexandra Roach 40/1
Eddie Izzard 50/1
Gillian Anderson 50/1
Frank Milham 50/1
Helena Bonham Carter 50/1
Ben Daniels 50/1
Alfred Enoch 50/1
Idris Elba 50/1
James Darcy 50/1
Gemma Arterton 50/1
Sanjeev Bhaskar 50/1
Russell Brand 50/1
David Walliams 50/1
Adrian Lester 50/1
Carey Mulligan 50/1
James Corden 80/1
Stephen Fry 80/1
Benedict Cumberbatch 80/1
Domhnall Gleeson 80/1
Alan Davies 80/1
Alan Carr 100/1
Katie Hopkins 110/1
Katie Price 110/1

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Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 14:39 . Odds are subject to change.
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