Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

It’s a very special episode of Verity! Why? Not just because today’s Doctor Who episode has an exclamation point just like we do — it’s also because we have three Verities in the same room to do a hot-take style review! Join Deb, Erika, and Katrina as we give our pretty much immediate reactions to this week’s episode.

What did you think of “Kerblam!”? Let us know in the comments!


“Folding Beijing”
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lax
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Download or listen now (runtime 55:25) 

Comments on: "Ep 182 – Kerblam!!" (10)

  1. The Doctor changing her ankle code delayed her finding out that Charlie was the threat. The ‘system’ sent out a call for help and then allocated her the seemingly menial role to get her near him. (I thought it odd at the time and couldn’t work it out) But it became obvious to me at the end. She had the best of intentions obviously, but I wonder if Kira might’ve made it to the credits had The Doctor not gone the long way round.
    I’d like to wish Doctor Who an early Happy 55th Birthday!

    • kurteh said:

      Thank you!

      You’re the only other person I’ve seen who also has posted this!

      And no one from the two Who casts I listen to mentioned it on air either.

      • Greg! said:

        It’s possible that the others of the wonderful Verities! (not on the rota for this particular podcast) might’ve brought this to the table. I suppose Graham’s initial comedic reaction to being a janitor does mask the issue somewhat.
        The plot’s sleight of hand in this moment does it’s job.
        I think I’ll add an ! to my name as it seems appropriate here 🙂

  2. Loved hearing your hot take/though processes! You enjoyed the things I did, had really interesting things to say about the episode on the fly, and then you were like, wait… the system and Charlie did the same thing? HMMM. Which was my double take too…

    Personally, the more I think about the episode, the less I feel the message holds up, but the character moments and individual scenes were a lot of fun for me.

  3. Stacy Livitsanis said:

    This episode was going so well, but as soon as I started thinking about it, it all fell apart. The parallels to Amazon are blatant and obviously intentional, but it ignores so many real-life parallels inherent in the story, such as who profits from this company, who is buying the products and the wider social context around those questions. Without addressing those issues, what’s the point? The fact that this blatant allegory for a capitalist mega-corporation’s exploitation of people didn’t address WHO profits and benefits from the exploitation is an insurmountable flaw. The episode keeps introducing elements that should be addressed, that it seems to want to critique and pick apart, but then it doesn’t.

    The portrayal of the odious manager who mistreats Kira failed to honestly confront the issue of abuses of managerial power and mistreatment of workers. An obvious misdirection, he was redeemed, but without really addressing his poor behaviour. He was looking out for the workers’ well-being the whole time. So was he harassing Kira as a cover? His first appearance was brilliant, as he pettily threatens the Doctor with “How’d you like a warning for insubordination?” and the Doctor’s reply couldn’t be more Doctorish: “I’d love one. I can add it to my collection.” There’s the Doctor’s anti-authoritarian spirit I love coming out.

    Kira’s death is utterly nonsensical. It’s only there so she can die in front of Charlie so he can be shocked and feel sad about it. Kira is killed by the company computer system that’s being attacked by Charlie solely to make Charlie sad, to ‘teach him a lesson’?. Why not, you know, do that to Charlie? If that isn’t a ‘fridging’, I don’t know what is.

    When the Doctor said: “The systems aren’t the problem. How people use and exploit the system, that’s the problem. People like you”, it felt like an unwelcome, conformist un-Doctorish attitude. The most charitable reading I can apply is that the episode is saying these vast corporate systems aren’t essentialist immovable edifices. They weren’t implemented or run by the computers and the robots, but by people, and people can change the systems or abandon them. There’s nothing about them that’s intrinsic or inherent. The Doctor’s line about the systems not being the problem fits in with that. It wasn’t the robots that took people’s jobs. Some humans higher up made that decision. But the muddled message and confused plotting with the system itself being under attack by a human worker doesn’t align with that. Too many issues are ignored. We don’t see those human higher ups for example.

    Great set-up, brilliant character moments, and a plot that doesn’t remotely stand up to scrutiny. I did enjoy watching it, though. And Graham’s sarcastic delivery of “I can detect even the most subtle of social cues” kept me chuckling through the faux satire.

    • Sarah42 said:

      I loved the Doctor saying she had a collection of warnings for insubordination, but then she proceeded to declare that the system’s not the problem. That’s not a line I ever expected to hear from the Doctor. This episode is a vile little mess in part because of that. I miss the Seventh Doctor and Ace overthrowing a government overnight. Now we have a Doctor who will watch and warn that nothing can be changed. Why not go back to Gallifrey to fit in with the Time Lords, Doctor? You keep saying you’re still figuring yourself out after regeneration — maybe you should just go back home and fit in with the other noninterventionists.

      I remember reading some comment that S11 would be kind of like Star Trek. I took that to mean it would be the Doctor and friends taking joy in discovering the universe. Instead, it’s obeying the Prime Directive — this culture doesn’t live up to our enlightened ideals, but we can’t interfere. How very Time Lord of it.

      This show’s such a mess. I said I was done, but still find some shred of wish to give this era a chance. It keeps showing that’s a waste of time and energy.

      • Stacy Livitsanis said:

        I just re-watched The Happiness Patrol and there’s no conformist prevaricating there. Like you said, the oppressive regime is completely overthrown, overnight. Why can’t the show do that now? Do they think that’s too radical an idea now? Is there some misguided thinking that it’s ‘too unrealistic’ to have that happen? It’s Doctor Who, not a Ken Loach film. The moment it stops being outrageous, something’s wrong.

  4. Mark Nixon said:

    One can choose to assume that Kerblam! is Amazon by another name or one can look at it as a stand-in for modern automated systems, which are used by owners to extract as much profit as possible with little regard for the human consequences. People built the systems, and people can change how they’re used. Expecting the Doctor to lead a socialist revolution is a bit much, but YMMV 🙂

  5. Andrea Gill said:

    How bizarre, I had literally finished reading the Henrietta Lacks book the night before listening to this episode! Now reading Folding Beijing.

  6. Thanks for another lovely podcast!

    Again, I enjoyed this episode while watching it, but again, it didn’t make much of an impression. Apart from the historicals, which have had some substance, I feel like the stories so far have been a bit too much like bubble wrap – squeeze them too hard and and they pop.

    I am not someone who wants the Doctor to be the lonely god, full of angst and making bombastic speeches, nor do I want the whole of space and time to be in the balance every week, but I want to feel like the stories matter. I’m thinking of relatively small-scale stories like Horror of Fang Rock or Midnight. Maybe not great examples because each is a bit grim, but I prefer dark and grim to light and frothy.

    Then again, I am a horror fan and my happy Who place is the Hinchcliffe era, so that probably tells you all you need to know about me! Maybe I just have to accept that this is not going to be my fave era of new Who. But I’m greedy! I want EVERY era of the programme to be made just for me! 😀

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