TV Review – ‘Can You Hear Me?’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

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

Well, if I found ‘Praxeus’ a disappointment the previous week, ‘Can You Hear Me?’ by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall was a big improvement. Yeah, there are some issues with some story points I was confused by, but overall this was a good outing. I found myself pretty gripped throughout this episode.

This was the first time I came across Charlene James as a writer in ‘Doctor Who’. I hope she’ll come back to contribute another ‘Doctor Who’ episode in the near future. I know I’ve been critical about Ed Hime and Pete McTighe’s contributions to ‘Doctor Who’ for Series 12, but they’re still good writers. 🙂

With that said, I find myself praising the contributions of new writers to ‘Doctor Who’ for Series 12 more than returning writers from Series 11. Maybe it’s because I’m being fair on new writers in that this is their first outings for the series. I do hope this won’t be a reoccurring pattern for future seasons.

Anyway, let’s talk about the episode. It begins in Aleppo, Syria in 1380 where a woman, Aruhan Galieva as Tahira, warns her people to take precautions about monsters coming in the night. No-one listens to her. Pretty soon at night, the city becomes ravaged by horrific werewolf-like monsters attacking. 😮

Meanwhile, in present day Sheffield, the TARDIS materialises as the Doctor returns Graham, Ryan and Yaz home to reunite with their family and friends. Graham meets up with his friends for cards; Ryan meets up with his best friend Buom Tihngang as Tibo and Yaz meets up with her very own sister Sonya.

I liked the scenes where Mandip Gill as Yaz reunites with her sister Bhavnisha Parmar as Sonya. It’s a shame about her parents not being around as they’ve gone off somewhere – Whitby for the night apparently. I would have liked to have seen Yaz’s parents for this TV episode as well as her sister Sonya.

In fact, Yaz and Sonya seem to be marking some anniversary for something. This is when Sonya cooks dinner for them, which Yaz is surprised by. I’m not sure what the anniversary is for but from watching the episode I suppose it’s something to do with Yaz running away from school and from getting bullied.

This episode features some nice character development for Yaz, especially when she has nightmares about the day she ran off from school and it involved a police officer. There is even a flashback to three years earlier where Yaz ran away from school. The police officer encouraged her not to run away.

It was also interesting to see Sonya as someone who isn’t just addicted to her mobile phone. There is a connection between Sonya and her sister Yaz and it’s nice it gets touched upon even if it’s not fully explored. I wonder if Yaz meeting that police officer in the flashback encouraged to be a police officer.

The nightmare aspect of the episode is integral, especially concerning the enemies of our story. The episode features special guest star Ian Gelder as Zellin. Wait! I’ve seen Ian Gelder before. He was in Series 3 of ‘Torchwood’‘Children of Earth’. Ian also voiced the Remnants in ‘The Ghost Monument’.

I wondered if there was going to be a connection to the Remnants from ‘The Ghost Momument’ with Ian Gelder since he’d been in that fairly recently. But as it turned out, his character Zellin has more mystery here. I’m not sure who Zellin is, but his name seems to be mythical and is thought to be a god.

Zellin is also a being that is similar to those of the Eternals from ‘Enlightenment’ as well as the White and the Black Guardians and even the Celestial Toymaker. There’s a game-playing feeling to this character apparently. I liked the references made to previous ‘Doctor Who’ entities that are like Zellin.

Zellin also has fingers that can detach from his hands. That was pretty creepy and quite gruesome to watch. The fingers, when implanted into someone’s ears, can cause people to dream. The people sleeping have nightmares to provide nourishment for Zellin’s mistress – Clare-Hope Ashitey as Rakaya.

Oh yeah, that’s another thing. The Doctor and her friends, along with Tahira from Aleppo 1380 – yeah, the Doctor travelled back in time to meet her before taking her along for the ride – go to this space platform in another dimension (I believe) where these two planets are about to collide into each other.

I couldn’t help think of my story ‘Doom of the Daleks’ that featured a collision of planets together. It’s called an extinction event. Drat! I should’ve called it an extinction event in my story. 😀 Anyway, this girl Rakaya, who was calling for help via Graham, was believed to be a kind of prisoner in that collision.

It was quite a surprise when Rakaya turned out not to be a victim of Zellin’s villainy and was actually feeding off from the nightmares that people had as nourishment. Pretty soon, Rakaya and Zellin head off for Earth where they continue to feed off from the nightmares of many people and to cause terror.

Just to talk about the regular cast. As well as Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh as Graham is excellent throughout. I still enjoy his comedy moments as well as his dramatic moments which are so well-balanced. The times where he’s sarcastic and very amusing around the Doctor were a joy to watch. 😀

Graham receives contact from Rakaya when she’s trapped in-between planets, which causes him to make a mess-up during card-playing with his friends. 😀 Graham also gets hooked to the TARDIS telepathic circuits by the Doctor…with headgear. Wait a mo. Couldn’t he put his hands on the console?

I thought in Series 8 of ‘Doctor Who’, you can connect to the TARDIS by placing your hands on the console like Clara did with Twelve. Even the Third Doctor placed his hands on the console to connect to the telepathic circuits in ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’. Am I over-thinking this issue?

Anyway, Graham also gets to experience his own nightmares where he dreams about having his cancer back again. He also dreams about his wife Grace, which means another appearance of Sharon D. Clarke. It was nice to see Grace again. 🙂 Sharon haunts Graham over not saving her life as he should’ve.

I did like that scene at the end of the episode where Graham was sharing with the Doctor about his fears regarding his cancer coming back to him. The Doctor doesn’t have an answer and is quite awkward about it, but I appreciate her hearing Graham once he shares his anxieties about this matter.

Tosin Cole as Ryan is equally good. He reunites with his best friend Tibo, who I believe has mental health issues in the episode. I can’t claim to know much about mental health, but it’s good it gets addressed in this episode. There was even a BBC Action Line advertised at the end regards this issue.

Tibo has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before as he was briefly in ‘Spyfall’. I did wonder who Tibo was at first when watching this episode. I thought Ryan might’ve reunited with his dad following ‘Resolution’, but I suppose there’s not quite a connection between them yet. It was good to see Ryan with Tibo though.

Ryan shows concern for his friend Tibo when he’s bolting up his flat and not being himself lately, especially when they play video games together. Tibo shares with Ryan the nightmares he has and Ryan agrees to stay the night at his flat before he witnesses Ian Gelder’s character kidnapping him. 😮

As well as Graham and Yaz, Ryan gets to experience his own nightmares where he sees an older Tibo, played by Willie Jonah on a Earth that happens to be burning. Old Tibo accuses Ryan for why he didn’t come back home sooner and very often. Ryan’s absences from home get addressed a lot for this story.

The same goes for Yaz and Graham when they’re asked questions about their whereabouts from their friends. I like how this episode touches upon on Graham, Ryan and Yaz’s lives being away from home when travelling with the Doctor. This is where Chris Chibnall’s writing comes into play for this episode.

I did notice the Dregs from ‘Orphan 55’ appearing in Ryan’s nightmares during the episode. I wonder if this is a foreshadowing for what’s to come in the two-part season finale. This is especially when the Doctor heard the Master’s voice in her nightmares too. Hopefully things will be resolved satisfactorily.

Jodie Whittaker, as ever, excels as the Doctor in this episode. I like how she misses her friends already and decides to jump ahead to tomorrow lunchtime in order to meet them. This is before she gets interrupted by the mystery of Ian Gelder’s Zellin materialising in the TARDIS. I wonder how he did that.

Very soon, Jodie’s Doctor goes back in time to solve the mystery where she meets Tahira in Aleppo, 1830. I liked that moment where Jodie’s Doctor receives phone calls from her friends. She links them together on her mobile using her sonic screwdriver before taking Tahira with her and picking them up.

There are times when the Doctor does talk by herself in the episode when no-one’s around. Sign of madness, Doctor?:D It was funny when the Doctor was talking to herself, believing her friends were there when in fact they were taken by Zellin on the space platform. How come she didn’t notice her friends were missing?

I liked those confrontation scenes the Doctor had with Zellin where she’s shocked by his identity and being connected to other beings like the Eternals, the Guardians, the Toymaker and so on. The Doctor gets to experience her own nightmares as well as she sees the Timeless Child. But who is it? Is it a she?

The episode’s climax did seem to be rather rushed in how the Doctor and her friends defeated Zellin and Rakaya. It seemed a little too convenient. Maybe 10 minutes more wouldn’t have hurt to stretch it out a bit. But I didn’t mind that since it was made up with some good character stuff for our main leads.

Overall, ‘Can You Hear Me?’ was a good outing for Series 12 of ‘Doctor Who’ featuring Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz. I found it an improvement compared to the previous episode. It had a good surreal dream/nightmare scenario with nice character development thrown in.

I’m not sure what to make of the next episode in Series 12 of ‘Doctor Who’. This is especially concerning a historical figure the Doctor must’ve met already connected to Frankenstein and such. But maybe I’m being premature about this. Perhaps the next episode will turn out to be superb in the end.

Next week’s episode is called ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’ by Maxine Alderton.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Can You Hear Me?’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Got feeling this Tardis family will split at the Cybermen climax, Ryan definitely will leave i think as he’s showing signs he wants be there help his friend & feels he’s missing out on there lives.

    Good episode, i think Chibnall maybe subtly hinting at The Guardians arc teasing these two characters, i don’t think the God’s take to kindly to the Doctor containing two of there race in a sphere maybe a series 13 villain?

    Great drama, well acted & gave a positive message about mental illness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Yeah, I’m getting a feeling not everybody will be together by the end of the season. Whether the Doctor will have one of her friends killed; one of them leaves her or one of stays with her, I do not know. I’m sure we’ll find out by the time we get to the season finale which I’m looking forward to. I’ll hope we’ll get answers to questions concerning the lone Cybermen, Captain Jack, the Ruth Doctor and the Master. Maybe the Cybermen will appear in next week’s episode.

      I wondered if Ian Gelder was the Black Guardian or something. It could’ve been the case had they gone in that direction. Maybe they might return in Series 13. Who knows? It’ll be interesting to find out.

      Very pleased you enjoyed this episode, Simon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. Glad you enjoyed my review.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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