Smile - Press ReactionBookmark and Share

Sunday, 23 April 2017 - Reported by Marcus
Doctor Who: Smile (Credit: BBC / Simon Ridgway)An excellent adventure is how The Telegraph describes the second in this year's series of Doctor Who, Smile. The paper is a big fan of new companion Bill, played by Pearl Mackie, who they say is settling in beautifully. "The especially effective thing with Bill is that she asks the questions that a viewer might well ask. Why are the Tardis seats so far away from the console? Why have you got two hearts? Does that mean you’ve got really high blood pressure? How are you allowed to blow stuff up and not get into trouble? Fair points, all of them."

Digital Spy agrees that Capaldi and Mackie are an all-time great TARDIS team. "In her second week, new companion Bill continues to inject fresh energy into Doctor Who, and into the Doctor himself. She stands out from the pack just by virtue of acting and speaking like a real person, and there's great value, both comic and dramatic, in having her ask the type of questions that you or I would if we ever jumped aboard the TARDIS."

Ars Technica praises the dialogue. "The almost rhythmic dialogue in the script for Smile, written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who penned In the Forest of the Night for series 8 of the sci-fi drama, helps the viewer become better acquainted with Bill, following Mackie's terrific character debut"

The Nerdist also praises Mackie's performance. "Smile kept the Bill Potts train a-rolling. She’s truly a breath of fresh air; a fun and funny companion who is incredibly passionate about learning, gets giddy when visiting new places, and reacts–as the Doctor said in “The Pilot”–with a smile when she’s confused rather than with frustration."

Screen Rant also looks at the two main characters. "Smile is the perfect way to explore the two characters’ burgeoning relationship, by placing Bill’s wide-eyed wonder front and center with a fittingly dark discovery about humankind’s first colony being undone by some robots that communicate solely through, you guessed it, emoji."

It was not all praise though with The Mirror feeling the episode didn't reach it's full potential and the story lacked punch. "I was really excited about the concept of the Emojibots. Robots that murder you if they think you're unhappy. It should have been up there with Weeping Angels who attack when you blink. But once the episode has set the premise, we're not given any more depth to this idea. Sadly, not exploring the main concept of the Emojibots pushed the episode away from great and delved close to the border of mediocre."

Radio Times also felt the episode was devoid of real emotional investment. "Fatally, for a tale that toys with emojis, there are few convincing reactions on display. Situations force the cast to go through the motions of emotions. There’s no one to root for and, as a viewer, I make no emotional investment. Smile presents interesting ideas but, as drama, is as bland and insipid as emojis themselves. "

Games Radar also felt the episode lacked something."The problem is that the episode can’t decide whether it wants to figure out why people who don’t smile were murdered, or focus on action sequences about emoji robots and their floating swarms of killer nano-robots. Pick one and stick to it."

Cater Matt felt the story was solid. "Smile is a story about collaboration, and also one about treating people and things that are different from you as the same. Maybe there is a political message here, as well. While there was no great moment of emotional fervor, The Doctor did kick off a new civilization with Bill at his side. A very satisfying episode in the end."

IGN liked the message of the story. "That the Doctor is only able to save the colonists by realizing that he also has to save the emoji-bots is the real twist of this story, and also where the lesson comes in about how we in the here and now need to learn to recognize the needs of those around us, and respect those needs, and work together in order to not have to flee a decimated Earth a few decades or centuries from now"

AV Club returns to dynamic of the TARDIS team. "This is an episode that begins better than it ends, which is never the optimal arrangement. But ah well: The Doctor and Bill’s growing friendship and Bill’s character in particular are the real joys of “Smile,” and they are likely what will linger in the memory more when looking back on the season as a whole."

Doctor Who News's review can be found in the Reviews section.