Doctor Who - Episode 11.07 - Kerblam! - Review
Every season has at least one episode that feels like it could fit into any era of the show's rich history. "Kerblam!" is that episode for season 11. It had an Eccleston-era feel, yet it is easy to imagine David Tennant, Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi starring too. It even feels like you could have sneaked this into the Sylvester McCoy era. That alone makes this one of the better episodes of the season.
But it didn't stop there. The story was rich and not at all predictable. It was easy to make the assumption that this would be an "anti-commercialism" message. It was far from that. It preached more that any tools can be abused, and human beings can make choices on how they use those tools.
All 3 of the Doctor's friends had something to do. Yaz getting close to the man who was a proud father, only to die moments later, was a very Russell T. Davies thing to do.
The story, written by Pete McTighe, had actual stakes, which is not something we've seen much of this season. The Doctor had to prevent a hangar full of bombs being blasted off to kill a ton of people on another planet. It was a welcome refreshment after the last couple of episodes.
The bubble wrap was the bomb. You press it (because who doesn't) and boom. That is a very Moffat-esque thing. Take something simple (statues, shadows, bubble wrap) and make it deadly. Fans of either of the previous eras of Modern Doctor Who would have something to like here.
The two callbacks to previous episodes were great. The first one was the fez that got delivered, an obvious callback to the Eleventh Doctor. The second one was when 13 name dropped (something she loves to do) Agatha Christie, referencing "The Unicorn and The Wasp" from season 4.
There were a couple things however, that didn't make a ton of story sense. First of all, how was that Kerblam Man able to deliver to the TARDIS through time and space? The TARDIS was in the time vortex, and the delivery got through. That is powerful technology, way better suited for something other than making deliveries. Nobody questions it though. The last time the Doctor got a message that wasn't through the psychic paper was in a cube, and that was Time Lord technology so it made sesne.
The second thing was that when the box arrived, Ryan takes the bubble wrap and pops one. This was before there were bombs in it so that's fine. It was only the shipment in the hangar that had the bombs. But when they return to the TARDIS, Graham picks up the same sheet of bubble wrap and Ryan warns him not to. I guess you could chalk it up to "We probably shouldn't take that sort of thing for granted anymore, so don't pop it". But they knew that sheet was safe. It was a bit sloppy, and I noticed it instantly.
Overall though, "Kerblam!" was a strong episode. It was the first one this season that felt like an episode of Doctor Who when you think of the show in a general sense. All of the previous episodes this season have had elements, and most of them have been very enjoyable. But you remove 1 or 2 little things, and those episodes could be adapted for other shows. This was strictly Doctor Who. It couldn't thrive anywhere else. That is the best element of the episode. If you bailed out on the season already, try this episode. You might get that familiar feeling you get from other episodes.
Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC One and BBC America.