Doctor Who: Space Babies
May 10, 2024 8:20 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

(Note: Russel T Davies is re-starting the series numbering with this series.) Ruby learns the Doctor's amazing secrets when he takes her to the far future. There, they find a baby farm run by babies. But can they be saved from the terrifying bogeyman?
posted by EmpressCallipygos (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Honestly, a Doctor who is most assuredly a gay man is only like 2% campier than Tennant/Smith anyway. Maybe not even. Gatwa is terrific. Very charismatic and fun and very much the Doctor, but in a new way.

We were enjoying this as a silly lark of an episode and then Ruby said something to the effect of "They won't stop babies from being born, but after they're born, they won't do anything to help feed or care for them?"

Yeah, what kind of bullshit is that? (sigh)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:33 PM on May 10 [13 favorites]

Russell T Davies really dropped the word genocide in the first two minutes, mentioned the refugee problem and talked about societies breeding children without feeling any need to care for them in the middle of a silly romp about Space Babies and a snot monster. He's a madman. What a genius.
posted by crossoverman at 12:19 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]

Love seeing Disney flexing their budget. And Ncuti Gatwa, just in general. I could watch that man do anything.
posted by fight or flight at 3:44 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

Yeah, loved it. Not much else to say. I hope they don't get too bogged down in Who lore later in the season.
posted by Pendragon at 4:35 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]

That was big fun. SPACE BABIES.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:26 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

I liked it a lot, but it didn't give me much to think about. Great use of budget, the Doctor and Ruby are great. There was probably room for another character and a sub-plot. Good sense at least that there's nothing else like it going around, which is DW at its best.
posted by jjderooy at 3:34 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

The AWFUL CGI baby mouths have confirmed something I was concerned about, Russel T is the show-runner that no-one can say 'No' to.

Moffat also has that issue but it feels like someone, somewhere - at least at the start of projects - (compare BBC Sherlock Season 1 to Season 3) has the power/confidence/autonomy to rein in Moffat's more intensely bizarre uhm.. quirks.

Russel is unrestrained and has no one who can authoritatively say No.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:14 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]

Soooo...The Doctor starts running a DNA check on Ruby behind her back, at the end of an episode where “I’m the last of my kind” seemed to pop-up repeatedly? Obviously, Ruby isn’t going to be just a normal young woman.

Now, hear me out...One thing I noticed in the Christmas special...The cloaked figure walking away from the church after Ruby was dropped off, looked a hell of a lot like Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, if just in silhouette, right down to hood and the Doc Martins. Ruby, very conspicuously, rocks the Doc Martins, as well.

I dunno what (if anything) to make of that admittedly-thin evidence-ish, but I was just going to ignore it until the Doctor started running the DNA test.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:50 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]

Thorzdad: I hadn't noticed that, but you're right. And both Ruby & Jodie-Doctor (and Rose Tyler) share the dyed-blonde with slightly visible darker roots & naturally dark eyebrows look.

After re-watching the Christmas Special and then this episode, my partner and I again marveled at how freaking amazingly awesome cool hot fly super-fly sexy adorable just plain GOOD Gatwa looks in, oh, just about any conceivable outfit you could think of. Major props to the costume department for just knocking it out of the park, and I imagine it's a lot more fun when you are starting with a uniquely perfect canvas on which to play.

Gatwa's accent is really, really interesting. I don't know how close his Doctor Who voice is to his natural accent, but it is really hard to characterize. I read that he was born in Rwanda but lived in Scotland from age 2, so I would imagine his parents' influence mixed with the Scottish accents he heard around him as a child produced his unique inflection.

Overall, I thought this was pretty cute. At first there was a bit of a knee-jerk, "Oh jeez, talking babies? That's cute, but come on Russell/Disney*" but eventually they were just so dang cute that I had to love them. When the one baby went off after the bogeyman with his little wooden sword and said, "I love Ruby and I'm going to be brave!" or whatever it was, I just about died.

Also, the Bogeyman was about the most disgusting thing I've ever seen on Doctor Who. I felt authentically nauseous at that bit.

The worst thing about the show is ANY REFERENCE TO CHIBNALL'S TERRIBLE RETCONS AT ALL. If they just keep the general "the Doctor is an orphan/adopted/foundling" vibe as emotional backdrop, that's fine, but I really never want to hear about the Doctor as genetic key to Time Lord regeneration -- Aaag! I just said it, damn it!

*I can't tell how much of feeling of a conscious push into far goofier kids' friendly subject matter and style is the influence of Disney's governing mission to mold all IP into their comfortable consumer paradise or of Russell "Farting Aliens and little fatty tissue babies are HILARIOUS" Davies.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:39 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

Re: the computer making a "bogeyman" out of literal bogeys (bogies? not sure of the UK spelling), I'm just thankful it didn't have any stories where someone was called a poopy-head.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:41 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

Ruby getting the snot splashed into her face and hair just hits different after watching Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids' TV. I just, I dunno. Good episode, though!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:09 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

Russell T Davies really dropped the word genocide in the first two minutes, mentioned the refugee problem and talked about societies breeding children without feeling any need to care for them in the middle of a silly romp about Space Babies and a snot monster
I noticed this too, and it felt a lot less heavyhanded/cringeworthy than RTD’s other attempts to work current events (and his politics, which I typically agree with) into the script.

Hearing a Rwandan actor (and refugee of the 1994 genocide) deliver the that line was more impactful, but also felt a touch exploitative? I hope the writing process was more respectful than “Hey, we just hired a Rwandan man to play The Doctor; let’s make the script about genocide!” but unfortunately, there’s no way for us to know that from the outside.
posted by schmod at 4:26 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

The Doctor kept referring to the babies, and then correcting himself to say “Space Babies” instead. Was this some sort of meta-joke that I’m not picking up on?

He did it enough times to make it seem like it was A Thing.
posted by schmod at 4:27 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

I only saw about the last third of this episode out of the corner of my eye while sewing, and I don't particularly care to go back and watch the whole thing. But I did watch the BTS "Doctor Who Unleashed" about it, and that was great! They went through their whole process for creating animatronic babies, CGIing the faces, how they moved the strollers around-- then the snot technicians were very keen to show off their methods of making correctly textured snot-- and then there was an absolutely charming interview with the creature actor inside the Bogeyman, in which he admitted he finds the stink of latex oddly comforting.

So even though I probably would have found the episode annoying, I love seeing people who are high-octane geeks for what they do talk about their work. That level of skill and attention to detail is one of the things that makes the show great.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:33 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]

RTD created the original Time Lord/Dalek mutual genocide back in 2005 for Chris Eccleston's Doctor (which was then undone by Moffatt and then reinstated by Chibnall), so while I don't remember the term "genocide" being bandied about at the time (although Tom Baker's Doctor expressed concerns about it decades before), it's definitely not a concept created for Ncuti Gatwa.
posted by rikschell at 5:43 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

He did it enough times to make it seem like it was A Thing.

It is well-known that anything in space must include the word "Space" in its name. Get a cold on earth? That's a cold. Get a cold in space? You've got a Space Cold. Have a baby in space? My friend, you've just had a Space Baby.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:59 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Also, how funny was it that Ruby's first assumption that the Space Babies were being grown for food? The Doctor's reaction was priceless: "What?! Food?! What the?! Food?!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:00 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

I thought this was really bad. When the babies weren't talking, they looked miserable. When they were talking, they looked like they'd been given the Mister Ed treatment. The monster was a literal boogerman, who they had a last-minute change of heart about; where's that thing supposed to go when they get to the planet?

In the end, everyone is saved by a diaper blowout. The whole thing played out like a rejected sci-fi episode of Rugrats. Very odd and offputting choice to start the season with. It looks like the next one is The Beatles vs Winifred Sanderson? I'll probably take a few days off before trying to watch that.
posted by jordemort at 9:13 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

Also, how funny was it that Ruby's first assumption that the Space Babies were being grown for food?

We farm animals for this, so it makes sense this was her first thought.
posted by crossoverman at 5:27 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Fair point
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:42 AM on May 15

Also, she's fresh from that whole Goblin King baby-eating scenario.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:04 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]

Also, she's fresh from that whole Goblin King baby-eating scenario.

Of course!

The Doctor also called it a Baby Farm. I'm not surprised Ruby assumed they were food.
posted by crossoverman at 7:02 PM on May 15

I must have blinked and missed the reason why they were still babies, other than RTD coming across a VHS of Baby Geniuses at a charity shop.
posted by dr_dank at 11:06 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Man, I know Davies is working extra hard to win that "I'm the Best Liberal" sash this season and so he had to work "no one is born wrong" into this episode but I'm willing to risk being called a bigot on the position that maybe the snot creature a rogue AI made for the sole purpose of terrifying babies doesn't strictly need to exist.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:10 PM on May 22

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