The terrifyingly topical ‘Smile’ follows in a now longstanding tradition of a) largely brilliant single-word-titled Doctor Who adventures; and b) adventures that make innocuous contemporary things and make them utterly terrifying.
But apart from feeling slightly creeped out by using emojis for the next few days, here are a few other things we noticed while watching this episode:
- Bill knows things about comic books! Fantastic (aka Reed Richards) is a bendy, stretchy gentleman who is a member of the Fantastic Four.
- So the Doctor’s not supposed to go off-world, unless it’s an emergency. It sounds a bit like that time the Time Lords grounded Third Doctor for generally mucking about too much in everybody else’s business – not that that stuck for much more than a handful of adventures.
- Hands up who else wants to meet this algae emperor who fancied the Doctor?
- When former companion Sarah Jane Smith left the Fourth Doctor, he was meant to have dropped her off in Croydon, but made a slight apparent miscalculation. It isn’t until several regenerations later that Sarah Jane berates the Tenth Doctor in ‘School Reunion’ for dropping her off in Aberdeen, which gets mentioned as a safe travel alternative in this story.
- Hands up who else is getting increasingly curious about the Doctor’s browser history?
- “I’m happy, I hope that you’re happy too,” the Doctor says to one of the emoji-bot murder interface friends. This sounds like a callback to the Seventh Doctor adventure ‘The Happiness Patrol’, in which a gang of pastel pink enforcers roamed a dystopian happy world to ensure that everyone was in good spirits, or else – and I still have nightmares about liquorice allsorts to this day because of it.
- Or is that line a sneaky reference to a lyric in David Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’? Comic readers may recall that the Eleventh Doctor befriended a musician named John Jones in his comic series, who was suspiciously similar in many ways to Bowie.
- Indeed, Bill says “wicked,” a term that the Seventh Doctor’s companion Ace was awfully fond of saying.
- This isn’t the first time the Doctor’s stumbled upon a future Earth colony. Often fleeing the effects of dangerous solar flares (see ‘The End of The World’ for the time said solar flares finally got the job done) the Tenth Doctor encountered a new Earth in the aptly-titled ‘New Earth’, and other former Earthling communities appeared in ‘The Ark’, ‘The Ark In Space’ (First and Fourth Doctor respectively, with said arks respectively troubled by a sneezy Dodo, and green bubble wrap), ‘Frontios’ (in which Turlough saves the day with the Fifth Doctor’s hatstand), and various others too many to mention. Solar flares, Time Lord meddling, and various terrible and threatening situations aside, this ostensible future for humanity is great news for anyone with a serious case of wanderlust willing to wait a few thousand and/or million years.
- Landing not quite back where they began after all, Bill and the Doctor meet an elephant in snowy London. The first companion to meet an elephant on TARDIS adventures was the aforementioned sneezy Dodo in the aforementioned ‘The Ark’ – methinks the creative team behind this adventure has been doing their research.
So what’s your favourite emoji? Mine’s the doughnut.