Doctor Who : Kerblam!

The Doctor gets a unexpected delivery for the 90% automated company Kerblam and has to join the working ranks to find out just what is going on at the moon sized storage faculty.

I have worked in retail my entire life and never has a Doctor Who episode spoken more to me then this one.

Not that I’ve ever come across a 90% automated work place or bubble wrap that could kill me, well I guess that is a lie ALL bubble wrap is deadly if used right I guess, but the emphasis on productivity, the work mates telling people basically to talk less and work more all just spoke volumes.

A real theme of this series looks to be not to judge a book by its cover. So many things have looked like threats, looked like the bad guys in this series and turned out to be victims of something much larger and at points completely innocent of what we think they might have done and this episode is no different.

Kerblam is a 90% automated company, the other 10% of jobs going to humans. The Doctor and her crew arrive looking to help someone who had been sending out messages on the back of their delivery cards just for after a few turns and twists it to end up being the building itself calling out for help. Kerblam is under attack and wants to stop the terrorist from not only destroying Kerblam but killing thousands of its customers as well.

It was hard to really imagine the world we had been transported too. It is something that I guess a lot of people have been talking about for a long time. In the not too distant future the robots rising up to demand equality or completely take over from the humans who created them to make their lives easier. A single sentence in this episode kind of hit home, it was along the lines of “whilst humans are busy looking at their phones the robots took over” a warning of sorts of possibly how the writer feels our society might be going. Whilst I think that is a completely different discussion of which I’m not even sure what I feel about it personally it was a sad line that helped put into perspective what the characters were going through.

Most of this series has been a story of not judging a book by its cover and whilst in the last episode and Arachnids in the UK you kind of felt the twist coming, the brother was going to be the bad guy and the spiders were going to be victims of the American businessman being complacent, this one I never even thought that we might see a human terrorist right under our noses. The second that Kira, one of the sweetest and most positive people we’ve ever met on Doctor Who played by the lovely Claudia Jessie, was kidnapped and Charlie jumped into action it would never cross my mind that moments later we’d find out that he’d been the mastermind behind the exploding bubble wrap in a attempt to stir up anti-automation feelings by killing thousands. It was a sad moment followed by one that left your jaw hanging open.

It was a real guest heavy episode, there weren’t many TARDIS Crew moments like in all the other episodes which I liked. I’ve said that I feel like the relationship between Graham and Ryan is being too forced. We get that Ryan is still uncomfortable but the beats in the development were starting to get tiresome, having a complete break from that and just seeing them all hang out was good fun. We got to see all of them use their strengths to get the information we needed and it was really nice to once more not only hear Ryan talk about his disability but worry that he won’t be able to do things because of it and have people help him through tough times.

But again it was the guest cast that really shone.

Claudia Jessie brought me to tears with her talk about why she was so happy doing the job she was doing. Her character Kira was one of my all time favourite characters in Doctor Who, just kind and hopeful. At one point you were just waiting for Graham to play match maker and bring her and Charlie together but it was never meant to be, Charlie himself was actually such a good character, from bumbling in love janitor to mastermind behind what could have been a total slaughter it has to be said that Leo Flanagan was outstanding in the episode.

I also just love Julie Hesmondhalgh, I grew up being forced to watch Coronation Street and Hayley was always a character I was very fond of. It is hard to ever watch her and not think of that kind and lovely lady and she was just as lovely in this. As Judy, head of the humans she was bubbly, sweet natured and genuinely wanted to help. Again the spotlight was on her when it looked like the actual AI was out to get them but she proved a admirable companion to the Doctor when she realised what was happening to her people.

My one problem with her character and the episode as a whole was that it swung at the end in the wrong direction. Instead of seeing this entire episode as a reason why automation and humans should work together on a 50/50 basis Judy was so happy to tell the Doctor that she would be working to make Kerblam a human majority work force.

It didn’t work for me because the entire point of this episode was that forcing one side or the other to do menial tasks was bad, having a majority on either side was bad, humans being complacent and lazy was bad but the AIs obviously had feelings and a need too. I felt the proper ending should have seen her want to work towards a better future for all making Kerblam a equal opportunity business but no. I don’t get why the Doctor didn’t have a problem with it either.

All in all though it was a brilliant episode and next episode is the one we’ve been collectively looking forward too since the teaser of guest stars at the beginning of the season. The Witchfinders staring the absolutely incomparable personality of Alan Cumming.

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