Doctor Who: Praxeus
February 3, 2020 11:27 AM - Season 12, Episode 6 - Subscribe

What connects a missing astronaut, birds behaving strangely in Peru, and a US naval officer who washes up on a Madagascan beach? The Doctor, Yaz, Ryan and Graham split up to investigate mysterious events across 21st century planet Earth in a deadly race against time to save humanity.
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Doctor Who: Praxeus, review: the science-fiction has taken a back seat to preaching (Anita Singh for Telegraph, 2/5 stars; archived link for posterity/ access)
Oh, Doctor Who. I have tried to love you, really I have. A female Doctor? Bring it on! Bradley Walsh as a companion? Could be inspired casting. Two extra companions? Been done before, and there’s no reason why it couldn’t work. Storylines about Rosa Parks and Partition? Well, the show has lots of young viewers for whom these subjects could be both new and interesting, and there’s nothing in the rules which says it can’t tackle significant moments in history.

But the Praxeus episode was the final proof, if it were needed, that Doctor Who (BBC One) is not what it was. By which I mean that it is no longer a sci-fi show. It is a show preaching messages to children, which happens to have the occasional alien in it as a bit of sci-fi window dressing.
And this time, unlike the future dead Earth in Orphan 55 (FanFare) earlier this season, the message seems to be significantly less dire. Let's look at that message from the Doctor in Orphan 55:
You want me to tell you that Earth's going to be OK? Cos I can't. In your time, humanity is busy arguing over the washing-up while the house burns down. Unless people face facts and change, catastrophe is coming.

But it's not decided. You know that. The future is not fixed. It depends on billions of decisions, and actions, and people stepping up.
Instead, this time we get something that sounds more like "don't worry, we, the newly formed Three Idiots Roaming up to the task of saving the planet from microplastics (Wikipedia). You can pop off on another adventure, Doctor, because we're on this job!"
posted by filthy light thief at 11:35 AM on February 3


A pretty solid episode, I thought. A few loose ends (what happened to the other researcher on the beach? nobody seemed too concerned by the death of the other vlogger. what was all that about the birds?) but fast paced and well directed. 6.5 out of 10.

A interesting contrast to Orphan55 from 3 weeks ago - the same environmental message, the same set of double-act secondary characters, the same attempt to give the companions decent side-plots of their own. But where Orphan55 was a muddled mess of ugly, cheap-looking, poorly directed scenes, this was bright and flowing with engaging dialog.

Was the scene where The Doctor fights through the flock of birds armed with a baseball bat a homage to Birdemic?
posted by AndrewStephens at 11:41 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


what happened to the other researcher on the beach? nobody seemed too concerned by the death of the other vlogger

Old news! Suki was the only one who (appeared) to really care about Aramu, and that may have been a front to seem more human, while she used people as test specimen to find a cure to the plastics disease. Everyone was content to let him monitor the Stormcloud of Angry Birds from outside, well away from the (limited) shelter of the structure. And Jamila was mourned by Gabriela for a while, but then replaced by Adam and Jake to form a new trio of world-hopping vloggers / microplastic solution task force.

And no real discussion of the impact to other animals, beyond swarms of angry birds in Peru and Madagascar.

I'll be quiet now, because I shouldn't harsh on others joys.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:58 AM on February 3


I'm starting to get companion fatigue. Ryan is just this monotone appendage and they don't do anything interesting with Yaz. I really like Graham so I wouldn't mind if they only keep Graham as a companion.
posted by Pendragon at 1:31 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


The skin growths from the pathogen really made my skin crawl; but didn't make up for the lack of nuance and over use of tropes.
posted by Marticus at 1:34 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


This started off creepy and mysterious but ended up an anti-climax with so many loose threads. What happened to the other Doctor? Why was the quarantined hospital just abandoned and not surrounded by people in hazmat suits? Why did the submarine randomly get stuck in the plastic base thing? Why did everyone just forget about their friends who died within minutes? What was the deal with the birds anyway? The plot just took a swerve from spooky alien birds to plastic eating bacteria "oh no we brought it on ourselves with pollution".

After the interesting episode last week seems like a return to the sub-par episodes at the beginning of the season.

Anita Singh for Telegraph, 2/5 stars

I wouldn't pay too much attention to the Telegraph's moaning about environmentalism, they're practically climate change deniers nowadays.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:05 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


Best line of the show:
Girl: Do you work out?
Ryan: I run a lot.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:08 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


I assume next week's message will be Don't Leave the Tap On While Brushing Your Teeth, to be delivered with all the subtlety of being hit over the head with a giant toothbrush.

Yaz is just looking grumpy now. Perhaps she's realised that despite being a decent actor she's being given nothing interesting to do. Ryan is so dozy he hasn't noticed yet. At least Graham's role as the Dad is fun.

The first section of this episode was great - a proper Doctor Who mystery. More of that, please, writers.
posted by milkb0at at 3:10 PM on February 3


I’ve always liked Who episodes like this one where the Doctor and companions just drop into the unfolding story already on-mission. This was a good standard Who episode, and nicely entertaining.

So, at least according to the BBC-A blurb, we now have two more episodes before a two-part season finale. I suspect the whole “Doctor Ruth” conundrum will hold until the finale. Hope I’m wrong, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:54 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


A children's/family show does a preachy episode for children/families. The plot mostly works, even if it seems more Captain Planet then the usual Whovian environmental episode. The effects of the infection were deeply Who and the series gives us a decent stand-alone. Aramu choose to stay outside, but he should have been nearer the door. Not that that mattered in the end.

I get the feeling that some of these stories are being conceived by writers who grew up with old Who and have internalized the structure of multi-part stories. This one felt like it really would have worked as a three or four episode story, with 26min episodes.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 9:42 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


I assume next week's message will be Don't Leave the Tap On While Brushing Your Teeth, to be delivered with all the subtlety of being hit over the head with a giant toothbrush.

Oh come on, the Toothbrush Men from the planet Colg-8 are a classic Doctor Who villain!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:32 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Now I’m imagining Daleks as the Cavity Creeps. “WE! MAKE! HOLES IN TEETH!”
posted by Servo5678 at 4:21 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I think the first twenty minutes or so had some notes of Global Frequency and Quatermass.
posted by detachd at 11:42 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


We decided that the gas mask/rubber suit guys were from the planet Gimpulon-69.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:42 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The Telegraph may be indeed Bad, but the preachyness is really wearing me down. Also agree on the companion fatigue: I like them all but they can't use them effectively lately. I barely made it through this episode; I'm mostly holding out now that the twoofer finale might not suck and we might even get more Captain Jack?
posted by KTamas at 4:00 AM on February 5


Three companions is two too many. And this group (grandpa out on a lark with his two grandkids) isn't doing it for me at all. Honestly, I would love an entire series without companions.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:41 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I don't necessarily _mind_ having a large group of companions, but I do think it demands a slower pace and more multi-part episodes so you can have companions off doing their thing in the wilds of Scotland for a solid half hour and not so much quick cut rapid edits between people all over the globe.

This one felt like it lost the plot about halfway through. It was interesting enough, but too many things started trying to demand attention and not enough time to do any of them justice.
posted by Kyol at 8:18 AM on February 5


The Telegraph may be indeed Bad, but the preachyness is really wearing me down.
Yeah, hard same. The prior ep where "mysterious barren planet is ACTUALLY PLANET EARTH!!!!" was clumsy enough; this one seriously clanged. And I'm broadly sympathetic to these issues -- I mean, a member of the good tote-bag carrying carbon-conscious liberal-voting NPR-donating tribe, and I'm still put off by not one but TWO seriously preachy eps.

This one suffers, too, by being immediately after the first episode this season that I thought really, really worked. Very much a ho-hum back-to-filler ep, IMO.
posted by uberchet at 12:21 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Meh, a disappointment. And what was the point of The Birds anyway? Do I care?
posted by Coaticass at 3:51 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Having grown up with Nyssa, Tegan and Adric all bopping around with the Doctor, three companions can work just fine. They have to be really distinct, though, and the three that our current Doctor has are just kind of...really nice? Every episode seems to consist of, "You two stay here doing the minimum, and one companion and one of the guest stars and I will run off and get into the action!"

There were tons of plot holes in this, but I liked it anyway. The plastics birds were sufficiently creepy and I did like Hot Astronaut/Hot Ex-Cop Husbands....I'm a cheap date.
posted by xingcat at 11:09 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


The Gulls Have Eyes 3: The Gullening
posted by tobascodagama at 2:24 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


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