Smile (Doctor Who)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

266 – "Smile"
Doctor Who episode
  • Kiran L. Dadlani – Kezzia
  • Mina Anwar – Goodthing
  • Kaizer Akhtar – Praiseworthy
  • Ralf Little – Steadfast
  • Kalungi Ssebandeke – Nate
  • Kiran Shah – Emojibot 1
  • Craig Garner – Emojibot 2
Directed byLawrence Gough
Written byFrank Cottrell-Boyce
Produced byPeter Bennett
Executive producer(s)Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
SeriesSeries 10
Running time46 minutes
First broadcast22 April 2017 (2017-04-22)
← Preceded by
"The Pilot"
Followed by →
"Thin Ice"
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Smile" is the second episode of the tenth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and broadcast on 22 April 2017 on BBC One. "Smile" received generally positive reviews from critics, with critics commenting on the Doctor and Bill's growing relationship.

In the episode, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) visit an off-Earth colony only to find it devoid of any life except for robots that communicate via emoji.


Despite Nardole's caution, the Twelfth Doctor allows Bill to select her first destination for a trip in the TARDIS. They land in the far future on an off-world Earth colony.[a] The colony is empty except for millions of nanobots called the Vardy that maintain it, along with robotic avatars that interact with the pair via emoji.[b] The robots give the Doctor and Bill badges which report their emotions also through emoji—seemingly the only way to communicate with the Vardy.

The Emojibots, on display at a Doctor Who exhibition.

The Doctor suspects they have arrived before the full colony ship is due, but remains curious as to the absence of any type of pre-colony crew preparing for their arrival. They discover the bones of these humans being used for fertiliser. The Doctor realises that if the Vardy sense they are not happy, the nanobots will consume them to their skeletons, and warns Bill to keep smiling as they escape. Resolving to destroy the Vardy before the arrival of the unsuspecting colonists, the Doctor locates the ship that brought the pre-colony crew to the planet and plans on overloading its reactor. However, Bill discovers a young boy who leads her to a large number of hibernation chambers including some humans just awaking; the Doctor realises that this is the colony ship.

The pair review the ship's logs from the non-hibernating flight crew. The Vardy were programmed to help construct and operate the colony and make the colonists happy, monitoring the emotional state of the colonists through the emotion badges and avatars. When one of the flight crew died of natural causes, it created grief among the crew, something the avatars were not programmed to register. The Vardy took this as a sign of disease and killed those who displayed unhappiness. This created a "grief tsunami" which rapidly wiped out the flight crew, and will likely wipe out the waking colonists when they discover what happened.

The colonists believe they must combat the Vardy to protect their hibernating crew, while the Vardy start to show the beginnings of sentience through self-defence. Failing to dissuade them from fighting, the Doctor resolves the situation by "resetting" the Vardy to their original state, before they saw grief as a disease. The Doctor offers to help negotiate between the colonists and Vardy to avoid the same mistake. Later, the Doctor and Bill return to Earth, but find themselves on the frozen Thames as an elephant looks on.


The Doctor mentions that there are many Scotlands in space, all striving for independence. This was previously mentioned in "The Beast Below" (2010).[3]

The Doctor warns Bill not to look at his browser history, the same order he gave to Osgood in "The Zygon Inversion" (2015).[3]

Outside references[edit]

The colony ship is named Erewhon, based on the work Erewhon: or, Over the Range by Samuel Butler; the story is of a man that finds a seemingly idealistic society but then turns away when he discovers there are harsh penalties for even slight offenses.[4] References are made to two songs, "Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie and "Any Old Iron", made famous by Harry Champion.[4]


The read-through for this episode and the previous episode, "The Pilot", took place on 14 June 2016.[5] Filming for these episodes began on 20 June 2016[6][7] and concluded on 28 July 2016.[8]

The Vardy are named after Andrew Vardy, a professor of swarm robotics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Vardy once worked on a short story with Cottrell-Boyce based on his robotics research.[9]

Location filming took place at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain.[10]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

The episode was watched by 4.25 million viewers overnight, a slight decrease from the opener for the series, and came fourth in the ratings behind Britain's Got Talent, All Round to Mrs. Brown's and the FA Cup.[11] The episode received 5.98 million views overall and received an Appreciation Index score of 83.[12][13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)6.84[14]
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)84%[14]
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB+[15]
Entertainment WeeklyB[16]
SFX Magazine[17]
TV Fanatic[18]
New York Magazine[21]
Radio Times[2]

"Smile" received generally positive reviews from critics, with many labelling the Doctor and Bill's growing relationship the highlight of the episode. "Smile" holds a score of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, the site's consensus reading "Though moments verge on the ridiculous and portions are bland, "Smile" grows compelling, fun, and chilling when focusing on two leading characters hanging out for much of the episode".[14]

Alasdair Wilkins of The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "B+", crediting Frank Cottrell-Boyce's improved writing and stating Cottrell-Boyce "acquits himself far better here than in the season eight misfire 'In the Forest of the Night'". He went on to say "The Doctor and Bill's growing friendship and Bill's character in particular are the real joys of 'Smile'".[15]

Writing for IGN, Scott Collura also praised the Doctor's relationship with Bill, stating he's "totally sold on this new Doctor/Bill dynamic at this point, and this season's new direction as well." He also took into consideration the themes and undertones of the episode "dropping some fairly heavy thematic material into the mix as well". He awarded the episode a score of 8.6, considered "great".[20]

In a review for the Radio Times, Patrick Mulkern was critical of the show's slow pace and "leaden anticlimax." Mulkern did note that the production was "extraordinarily beautiful" and the robots were "terribly cute" and well-designed. He also praised the performance of Capaldi and Mackie as "hugely watchable" although her character was "more lightly sketched" than it had been in the previous episode. Mulkern thought that the story "presents interesting ideas but, as drama, is as bland and insipid as emojis themselves."[22]


  1. ^ Referred to offscreen as Gliese 581 D.[1]
  2. ^ Referred to offscreen as Emojibots.[2]


  1. ^ "Visit Doctor Who's spectacular colony world... in Valencia".
  2. ^ a b Mulkern, Patrick. "Doctor Who Smile review: "A grief tsunami! It's a tough one to sell and I'm not buying it"". Radio Times. Patrick Mulkern. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b Pete Dillon-Trenchard (22 April 2017). "Doctor Who: Smile geeky spots and Easter eggs". Den of Geek. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b Mcalpine, Frasier (24 April 2017). "'Doctor Who': 10 Things You May Not Know About 'Smile'". BBC America. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  5. ^ Lazarus, Susanna (14 June 2016). "Pearl Mackie joins Peter Capaldi for the first Doctor Who read-through of series 10". Radio Times. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Matt Lucas to join Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie for Doctor Who series 10". BBC. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  7. ^ Jones, Paul (4 June 2016). "Doctor Who series 10 starts filming in two weeks". Radio Times. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  8. ^ "The latest on Doctor Who series 10". BBC. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  9. ^ Kelland, Ariena (21 April 2017). "MUN prof inspires robots on new episode of Doctor Who". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Series 10 filming in Spain". DoctorWhoTV. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Smile – Overnight Viewing Figures". Doctor Who News. 23 April 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  12. ^ Marcus (15 May 2017). "Smile – Official Ratings". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  13. ^ Marcus (24 April 2017). "Smile – Audience Appreciation:83". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  14. ^ a b c "Doctor Who, Series 10, Smile". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  15. ^ a b Wilkins, Alasdair. "The Doctor and Bill are fantastic together, then a Doctor Who episode happens". Alasdair Wilkins. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  16. ^ Serrao, Nivea. "Doctor Who recap: 'Smile'". Entertainment Weekly. Nivea Serrao. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  17. ^ Delahunty-Light, Zoe. "DOCTOR WHO S10.02 REVIEW: "A QUIRKY IDEA THAT NEVER REACHES ITS FULL POTENTIAL"". SFX Magazine. Zoe Delahunty-Light. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  18. ^ Wiedel, Kathleen. "Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 2 Review: Smile". Tv Fanatic. Kathleen Wiedel. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  19. ^ Nguyen, Hanh. "'Doctor Who' Review: Bill Continues to Make Us 'Smile' Despite Creepy-Cute Emojibots". IndieWire. Hanh Nguyen. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  20. ^ a b Collura, Scott. "DOCTOR WHO: "SMILE" REVIEW". IGN. Scott Collura.
  21. ^ Ruediger, Ross. "Doctor Who Recap: The One with the Emojibots". New York Magazine. Ross Ruediger. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  22. ^ "Doctor Who Smile review: "A grief tsunami! It's a tough one to sell and I'm not buying it"".

External links[edit]