TV Review – ‘Praxeus’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

After the insanity that went on in ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ the previous week, I suppose things would’ve calmed down by the time we got to the next episode. And they do, but I was hoping for a big follow-up to the exciting revelations we’ve had so far, especially with Chris Chibnall co-writing this.

‘Praxeus’ is an episode by Pete McTighe and Chris Chibnall. Pete McTighe previously wrote ‘Kerblam!’, my favourite episode of Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’! He’s also contributed heavily to the classic ‘Doctor Who’ seasons on Blu-ray, especially the ‘Behind The Sofa’ items which I have greatly enjoyed watching.

I was looking forward to Pete McTighe’s contribution to Series 12 this time round. I hoped for a thrilling ride with a surprise twist at the end. And after seeing ‘Praxeus’; I found it…err…um…decent. Okay look, this episode’s not terrible. It’s got some good stuff especially with the Doctor and friends in it. 🙂

But I don’t know; this episode felt underwhelming by the end. This is surprising, considering Chris Chibnall wrote the episode with Pete McTighe. I was hoping for there to be another plot revelation as we’d been getting them throughout this season. I hoped for something big as in the previous episode.

I think Pete McTighe should’ve written this episode by himself to match to the quality of storytelling that was in ‘Kerblam!’ Or at least if Chris Chibnall was going to co-write this episode, have it signify and connect to something in the two-part season finale which…sadly I didn’t feel I got from watching this.

Am I being unfair? Err…well…let’s talk about the episode. The story takes place in the 21st century (I presume it is 2020) where an astronaut crash-lands to Earth. Strange happenings go on with people dying in various continents such as Peru, Hong Kong and Madagascar. This is travel all about the world. 😀

Splitting her team up into groups, the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz investigate with finding out what’s going on by locating the astronaut as well as other people that lead them to somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Can the Doctor and her friends stop the terror that’s connected to the plastic pollution?

So yeah, the episode is quite topical. I discovered that by the time we got to the second half. Not that’s a bad thing. I appreciate the environmentally friendly message that’s being put into the tale. But I was thinking there could have been monsters like with the maggots that got featured in ‘The Green Death’.

You could’ve had the Daleks being the cause for the plastic pollution which would’ve connected to what’s been going on in this season. Instead, Praxeus turns out to be this deadly virus that’s killing the plastic inside people. And it does this by encasing people into bone-like skin before they explode here.

This episode has already got fans speculating that the Praxeus virus is a reference to the current Coronavirus that’s been happening lately. That is interesting speculation there, even though the episode was written in 2019 before the virus had occurred. It’s intriguing fiction parallels with real life.

The episode features a good guest cast. There’s Warren Brown as Jake Willis, an ex-police officer. Warren Brown is well-known in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe for playing Sam Bishop in the new ‘U.N.I.T.’ series and in the ‘Lady Christina’ series by Big Finish. He’s done other Big Finish roles in his career too.

However, I have to stress something that could’ve been taken with great advantage in this episode. Why couldn’t Warren Brown have played Sam Bishop in the episode? It would’ve made a big connection to the ‘Doctor Who’ TV show and the Big Finish audios if he played Sam Bishop in the flesh.

But nope! Warren is playing a police officer who got booted out of his job a while back and is now looking for Adam Lang, the astronaut who’s gone missing because…he’s his lover and husband. Yeah that was introduced late in the episode. I think it could have been better if it was established early on.

It was like the episode shock-surprised you with that revelation, especially with Graham when he asked Jake what his connection with Adam Lang was. Matthew McNulty guest stars as Adam Lang the astronaut in the episode. Adam Lang gets infected by the Praxeus disease. Can the Doctor rescue him?

The episode also features Joana Borja as Gabriela Camara and Gabriela (yeah that confused me for a minute in the cast list) Toloi as Jamila Velez who travel together in Peru. There’s also Molly Harris as Suki Cheng and Thapelo Maropefela as Arumu who the Doctor meets in Madagascar in the episode. 🙂

There’s also Tristan de Beer as Zach Olson whom the Doctor rescues on the beach at Madagascar near the Indian Ocean before he gets turned into bones with being infected with the Praxeus disease and explodes. The Doctor, her friends and the others must find a way to counteract the lethal disease here.

Okay, so I have to give the episode credit. I like how each of the three companions Graham, Ryan and Yaz get given something to do when they’re sent on errands by the Doctor. It’s well-handled by Pete McTighe and Chris Chibnall in the writing, especially with Yaz’s character as she isn’t underused in this.

In the episode, Ryan gets sent to Peru where he meets up with Gabriela after her friend Jamila goes missing. Graham and Yaz are sent to Hong Kong where they meet up with Jake before they find Adam in a warehouse. The Doctor is in Madagascar where she meets with Suki and Arumu and rescues Zach.

Tosin Cole is very good as Ryan, especially when he meets up with Gabriela and helps her out with finding Jamila. Ryan’s confidence shines throughout and there isn’t much of a hint connected to his dyspraxia here. Ryan also manages to capture one of the terrifying birds that’s flying about in the tale.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. There are swarms of flying birds connected with the Praxeus disease and killing off plastic pollution and such. This did remind me of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ for some reason, even though I haven’t seen the film yet. I’m dismayed they didn’t connect to the Doctor’s past.

Anyway, back to Ryan. It’s amazing he managed to capture a dead bird in order for him and the Doctor to examine it. It was funny the Doctor said to Ryan that he smelled of bird. 😀 The humour in this episode is rather good, especially with the interaction between characters – both regulars and supporting cast.

Mandip Gill is excellent as Yaz. It’s interesting to see how Yaz willing decides to go back into a warehouse in Hong Kong to collect something for the Doctor that could be vitally important. She has Gabriela joining her when going back into the warehouse. They soon go and teleport somewhere else.

Yaz initially thinks that she and Gabriela are on an alien planet whereas in fact, they’re somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She’s disappointed about that when it gets revealed to her by the Doctor as she and her party meet up with her. I did like that Yaz got to have her own adventure in this.

Bradley Walsh as Graham is equally superb in the episode. I love that scene where he reads a tracker upside down before Yaz turns it over for him to find what they’re looking for. It’s genuinely funny! 🙂 Bradley Walsh knows how to balance the comedy and seriousness of Graham’s character in the series.

There are some nice scenes between Graham and Jake when he tries to connect with him in his relationship with Adam. It sort-of echoes Graham connecting with Yaz during a low moment she had in ‘Demons of the Punjab’. Graham mentions he’s had some nursing experience. With Grace perhaps?

Jodie Whittaker as ever is wonderful as the Doctor in this episode. I liked that moment when the Doctor is just there when Graham, Yaz and Jake weren’t looking as they carry Adam out of that warehouse in Hong Kong. Jodie’s Doctor is on fire when she’s working out what’s going on in the story. 😀

There are occasions when Jodie’s Doctor can be distant from emotional dilemmas, especially when she’s frantically working out what’s going on with the plastic, the birds and how various continents are connected with certain deaths. But she does have compassion and says she’s ‘a romantic’ at heart.

It was a surprise twist in the episode when Suki Cheng turned out to be involved with what was going on with the plastic, the birds and such. I’m not sure what her motivation was as it did seem sudden and I don’t think it was explained quite clearly on first watch. I believe Suki is a human from the future.

The Doctor and her friends do everything they can with providing an anti-virus against the Praxeus disease by spreading it out across the planet Earth’s atmosphere (or stratosphere). They use Suki’s alien ship (or…perhaps Suki’s an alien instead of a human?) after she was killed by the Praxeus disease.

Yeah, the Doctor tried to negotiate with Suki to get her to help them stop the Praxeus disease before she became overcome with it and exploded. I must admit, the horror moments featured in the episode are pretty good. I do go “WHOA!” at certain points seeing the story when horror moments did happen.

I did think things went downhill by the time the episode came to an end. This is especially when Jake self-sacrificed himself by piloting the ship into the sky to spread the anti-virus across Earth’s stratosphere since the autopilot wasn’t working. That is until the Doctor rescued Jake with the TARDIS.

And look, I don’t like characters getting killed off even it might be supporting ones. But I think it would’ve been dramatic had Jake died and made a huge sacrifice to save others including Adam. If it was Sam Bishop self-sacrificing himself before getting rescued by the Doctor instead, I could’ve appreciated it more.

In the end, Jake and Adam are back together and are soon joined by Gabrielle who wants to travel with them. Gosh! She didn’t grieve for Jamila much. I’m not sure if Jamila was simply her best friend or her lover. I think it was the latter. The Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz head off into the TARDIS themselves.

So yeah, ‘Praxeus’ was a disappointment on my part and perhaps I was expecting too much from this episode. But there were good moments to be found and I appreciate the character development for our main leads and supporting cast. The environmentally friendly message was also appreciated here.

Next week’s episode is called ‘Can You Hear Me?’ by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Praxeus’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Jake should have died but instead we get a syrupy ending which kinda felt forced if he’d died it would prove that there was a hero quailty inside him sacrificing himself for mankind, i hope this isn’t going to become a trend like Moffats episodes were he couldn’t keep characters dead (RORY WIILLIAMS, CLARA OSWALD).

    I enjoyed it but Gabriela was so annoying, i was praying she’d get eaten by the crows because she got on my ruddy nerves “are we really going use the teleport” (groans) & how she spoke to Ryan was awful.

    I think issue again is these stories need to be 60 minutes in length, those extra ten minutes could have made this & episode 3 better by adding a bit more character drama & story plotting, instead the pacing feels rushed.

    On reflection I’d put this episode at 3/5 instead of my original 4/5 it has some good ideas but needed to be longer to flesh out the story’s narrative.

    A excellently written review Tim which perfectly summed up the story’s pro’s & con’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Well, to be fair, not all the episodes in Series 12 as well as the Chris Chibnall/Jodie Whittaker era have been like that. At least they didn’t bring back bodies from the grave in this episode. The ones that did die in the episode did stay dead. I think the issue with this episode, like Orphan 55, is that we’re not given enough time to know the characters and how they relate to each other. And whilst ‘Praxeus’ isn’t as bad as ‘Orphan 55’ (although I do like that episode as well as this one for their linear storytelling), it did feel underwhelmed especially when there wasn’t a lot of emotional impact from the characters. Jake self-sacrificing himself in the episode could’ve made us emphasise for Adam’s loss had he died.

      I did wonder if I was being harsh on this episode as well as ‘Orphan 55’ as I do like Ed Hime and Pete McTighe as writers and it’s a shame their contributions for Series 12 seem to be underwhelming compared to their episodes for Series 11. Maybe I wasn’t in a good frame of mind watching ‘Praxeus’ and misjudged it incorrectly as I’ve heard people rate it positively. I think it might be down to the editing and directing that’s causing the problem as the stories behind ‘Orphan 55’ and ‘Praxeus’ are good ones in general.

      Again, as I said before in a previous review, I think we should have more character-focused episodes on the companions. Graham, Ryan and Yaz haven’t been given an episode each in this season. They need to have their standout episode in this season like with Adric, Nyssa and Tegan in Season 19. I’m surprised that hasn’t happened yet.

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next one and hope that’ll be good. Thanks for your insight into this episode, Simon. Glad you enjoyed my review.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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