Doctor Who series 14 | Dot And Bubble spoiler-free review

Doctor Who Dot And Bubble
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There’s a tinge of Black Mirror to Russell T Davies’ Dot And Bubble script: here’s our spoiler-free review.

Appreciating that it left one or two questions behind, last week’s episode of Doctor Who73 Yards – is already being lauded as a high point for the refreshed show. Light on outright explanation, high on creepiness, Dot And Bubble doesn’t displace it. But it has a damn good go.

It’s the fourth of Russell T Davies’-penned episodes of Doctor Who series 14, and the contrast between the first two he wrote and the last two is particularly stark. The first two I felt was Doctor Who recruiting new younger viewers. The latter two have a flat-out science fiction edge, and the tone of a programme very comfortable on its feet, and also, not in a very good mood.

The setup here feels very Black Mirror-y, as we discover a world where people spend their days in a metaphorical and actual social media bubble. They get up, activate their dot, fire up the bubble, and interact with people via a series of fast moving information screens. People in the bubble are presented with their follower counts and such like, and appear to be living idyllic existences, set against bright pastel backgrounds.

Until, well, they start disappearing. That’s not quite as idyllic, and it’s the core mystery that drives the narrative.

What’s going on? Well, into the bubble of Lindy, effectively the lead character of this particular story, come the Doctor and Ruby. Played really well by Callie Cooke, Lindy is fully signed up to her bubble world, and oblivious to threats around her. It’s not quite Doctor-lite again, but it’s a story where the two lead characters take on more of a supporting position. Which is where a spoiler-free review’s discussion of story ends.

What doesn’t give anything away is to argue that over the 43 minutes of this episode, around half an hour of it in particular is really, really strong. The slow build up to things is really well done, then there’s a lull towards the back end of it, and then there’s a particularly memorable ending.

Separately, the sense too that the broader mysteries of the series are at least being poked at a bit more. 

What I really got from Dot And Bubble though is that this is, once again, angry, steely Doctor Who. A mid-season episode where there’s the space to tell a complete story and fire a few shots in the process. In this case under a blanket of colour, smiles, and a bit more music. The bright, lively, production design is a terrific cover for where Dot And Bubble wants to go, and two weeks running, demonstrates that Doctor Who is bristling with confidence, and not scared to show a bit of anger towards the world.

Really enjoyed this. The spoiler-y version of this review will follow at the weekend…

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