I’m a little late to this week’s review—and a little surprised by the intensity of the negative response it has received in some quarters. The episode has an extended PSA-leaning epilogue that feels decidedly out of place, and it’s more than a little confusing, but it’s also one of the more interesting episodes of this season.
Title: “Can You Hear Me?”
Directed by Emma Sullivan
Written by Chris Chibnall, Charlene James
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan
Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien
Aruhan Galieva as Tahira
Nasreen Hussain as Anita Patel
Buom Tihngang as Tibo
Bhavnisha Parmar as Sonya Khan
Sharon D. Clarke as Grace O’Brien
lare-Hope Ashitey as Rakaya
Ian Gelder as Zellin
The Doctor and her companions discovery nightmarish elements in a couple of different eras—and uncover ancient, eldritch entities at work.
The backstory gets presented in animated form, and it works surprisingly well. The live-action Ian Gelder, meanwhile, proves impressively creepy.
The episode is cluttered and chaotic, and it doesn’t help matters that (1) the solution feels too much like Whous ex Machine and (2) the story is followed by an extended epilogue that only partially works. They would have done better to have removed one of the plot elements they were juggling, shortened the epilogue (or integrated some of the character backstory into other episodes), and developed the remaining plot.
Originality: 4/6 This episode is the first in some time to stretch the possibilities of what Doctor Who could be.
Effects: 5/6 Some of the effects are basic, but I’m impressed by the recreation of medieval Aleppo.
Story: 3/6 The story begins with a great mystery that has tremendous potential. It gets lost in its own convolutions.
Emotional Response: 4/6 Long-time fans will appreciate the shout-outs to Immortals the Doctor has encountered in the past, including the Guardians, the Eternals, and the Celestial Toymaker.
In total, “Can You Hear Me?” receives 30/42
I disagree with this review on a number of points. Overall, this was one of the best episodes of the season (I would put it right behind “Fugitive of the Judoon”). I thought the separate plotlines for each companion were perfect. I’ve been very frustrated with the companions for this Doctor, as having three, they’re too often just there in the background. Each plot line here was meaningful and tight. The resolution of the main threat was, indeed, Whous ex Machina, but I liked it a lot better than the drawn out solutions we’ve been seeing in so many other episodes. It felt right to me.
It felt like a PSA, but it felt like a great PSA, where you can feel good that you enjoyed a PSA because that means you are a good person or something.
Also, we get a glimpse of Timeless Child, who looks like she could have been a child version of other female The Doctor we met earlier.
I think one of the unasked questions here would be “but who are these PSAs for”?
I’m getting the feeling that the current runners of Doctor Who are putting out PSA episodes the Labour Party would love in a country that no longer loves the Labour Party….
Note, the ratings aren’t going up every week after each new style “PSA” episode comes out….
I have no idea on that either. They might not agree 100% with them, but I think most Whovians – and SciFi fans in general – are already quite familiar with the messages that have been addressed so far, so while touching on them to frame a plot might be OK, being beaten over the head with them as with Orphan 55 is not.
Not sure what to make of the viewing figures – other a few spikes for a handful of episodes they’ve been sliding fairly steadily in the UK for the last few seasons now (since before Chibnall & Whittaker), and I doubt there’s much difference with overseas markets either which is an important consideration given the BBC’s financial situation and a need for an above average FX budget. It doesn’t seem like we’re near the cancellation zone just yet, but the BBC *is* making a lot of cuts at present so Chibnall is going to have to at least slow, and ideally reverse, that trend pretty soon to avoid getting the wrong kind of attention.
> “but who are these PSAs for”?
The P. I don’t think political affiliation has anything to do with how much damage humans do to their planet or how the public doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for people with some mental health problems.
I am in the States, the Labour Party is your left leaning party, right?