‘Can You Hear Me?’ (TV)

‘CAN YOU HEAR ME?’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Zellin with the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz

If I found ‘Praxeus’ a disappointment, ‘Can You Hear Me?’ by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall was a big improvement. Yeah, there were some issues with certain story points that I was confused by. 😐

But overall, this particular ‘Doctor Who’ episode was a good outing. I found myself pretty gripped throughout this episode. That’s certainly thanks to the character development found in the regulars.

This was the first time I came across Charlene James as a writer in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m hoping she’ll come back to contribute another ‘Doctor Who’ episode in the near future, hopefully for Series 13. 😀

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. I’m hoping they’ll prove me wrong with their future contributions.

With that said, I find myself praising the contributions of new writers to ‘Doctor Who’ for Series 12 more than the returning writers from Series 11. Maybe it’s because I’m being fair on these 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. Maybe it’s due to over-confidence with previous writers on first efforts, I don’t know. 😐

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 some monsters coming in the night. 😮

No-one listens to her. They think that everything’s going to be okay during the night. But pretty soon at night, the city becomes ravaged by horrific werewolf-like monsters that come to attack its people.

Meanwhile, in present day Sheffield, the TARDIS materialises as the Doctor returns Graham, Ryan and Yaz home to reunite with their family and friends. Very nice of the Doctor to do that for them! 🙂

Graham meets up with his bus depots friends for cards; Ryan meets up with his best friend Buom Tihngang as Tibo (who was previously in ‘Spyfall’) and Yaz reunites 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 her parents aren’t 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. There’s still no resolution over the concerns Yaz’s mum Najia had about her daughter being with the Doctor.

That’s been unresolved since ‘Arachnids in the UK’. Anyway, Yaz and Sonya seem to be marking some sort of anniversary for something. This is when Sonya’s cooking dinner for them. Yaz is surprised by that.

I’m not sure what the anniversary is meant to be about, but from watching the episode, I’m guessing it’s something to do with Yaz running away from school and from getting bullied. That’s intriguing. 😐

This episode features some nice character development for Yaz, especially when she has nightmares about the day she ran off from school. It involved a police officer who came after her in the country.

There’s even a flashback to three years earlier where Yaz ran away from school. The police officer encouraged her not to run away. I’d like to think Yaz was inspired to be a police officer since then. 🙂

Incidentally, Nasreen Hussain plays Anita Patel, the police officer who went after Yaz running away from school. It was nice to see the scenes between Yaz and Anita three years ago and in the present.

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 rather nice that this gets touched upon here.

I admit it’s not fully explored, but I appreciate it being there. I’m surprised Sonya didn’t pester Yaz for her to give her Ryan’s mobile phone. Maybe Sonya gave up over that at some point in the series.

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, haven’t I?

Ian Gelder previously appeared in Series 3 of ‘Torchwood’, which was a five-part TV serial called ‘Children of Earth’. Ian also voiced the Remnants in ‘The Ghost Monument’, which is very fascinating.

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, it wasn’t the case here. 😐

Instead, Ian’s character of Zellin has more of a mystery to him. I’m not sure who Zellin is, but his name seems to be mythical and he is thought to be a god. But there’s only one God that I know of! 🙂

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. I liked those nods to those past beings. 😀

I did wonder if Ian Gelder was the Black Guardian or something. It could’ve been the case had the production team gone in that direction. We haven’t seen the Black and White Guardians in a while.

Maybe the Black and White Guardians could return in Series 13. Who knows? It would be interesting to find out. I wonder if David Troughton could be persuaded to play the Black Guardian on TV at all.

There is a game-playing atmosphere and feeling to Zellen’s character. It’s interesting how that gets played out during the episode and the dark lighting wherever he goes makes him pretty intimidating.

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 nightmares. 😮

The people sleeping have nightmares to provide nourishment for Zellin’s mistress – Clare-Hope Ashitey as Rakaya. Oh yeah, that’s another thing. I was surprised by how she turned out in this story.

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 a space platform in another dimension.

They follow up all the clues that have been happening to them concerning visions, nightmares and friends being abducted. On the platform, they all see two planets about to collide into each other. 😐

I couldn’t help think of my ‘Fifth Doctor’ story ‘Doom of the Daleks’, featuring a collision of planets. In this tale, it’s called an extinction event. Drat! I should’ve called it an extinction event in my tale. 😀

Anyway, the girl Rakaya, who was calling for help via Graham, was believed to be a kind of prisoner in that collision. I believed it too and I hoped the Doctor and her friends would be able to rescue her.

It was quite a surprise when Rakaya turned out not to be a victim of Zellin’s villainy. She was actually feeding off from the nightmares that people had as nourishment. That’s pretty horrible and very vile.

Pretty soon, Rakaya and Zellin head off to Earth where they’re about to continue feeding off from the nightmares of many people and cause terror. Will the Doctor and friends be able to stop the two?

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 drama moments. They’re well-balanced.

The times where he’s sarcastic and very amusing around the Doctor were a joy to watch. 😀 I liked it when the Doctor asked him “You trust me, don’t you?” and he replied “Have I got to answer that?” 🙂

Graham receives contact from Rakaya when she’s ‘trapped’ in-between planets, which causes him to make a mess-up during the card-playing with his friends. I hope his own packs of card he brought. 😀

Eventually, Graham also gets hooked up to the TARDIS telepathic circuits by the Doctor…with some cumbersome headgear. Wait a mo! Couldn’t have Graham put his hands on the console instead? 😐

I thought in Series 8 of ‘Doctor Who’ you had to connect to the TARDIS telepathic circuits by placing your hands on the console. That’s what Clara did when the Twelfth Doctor showed her how to do it.

Even the Third Doctor placed his hands on the console to connect to the telepathic circuits at the end of ‘Frontier In Space’ and the beginning of ‘Planet of the Daleks’. Am I over-thinking the issue? 😐

Anyway, Graham also gets to experience his own nightmares when he dreams about having his cancer back again. He also dreams about his wife Grace who haunts him about not saving her life. 😐

This means having another appearance of Sharon D. Clarke back as Grace. It was nice to see her again, although I wish we had an episode where Graham travelled back in time to meet Grace again.

I did like that scene at the end of the episode where Graham shared with the Doctor about his fears of his cancer coming back to him. He wonders whether his cancer will come back, asking her opinion.

The Doctor doesn’t have an answer for him and is quite awkward about it. I do appreciate her hearing Graham share his anxieties about the matter. It shows how much he trusts her in the series.

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 a lot about mental health whilst I watched this tale.

But it’s good it gets addressed in this episode, emphasises how much Ryan connects to his friends. There was even a BBC Action Line advertised at the end of the episode concerning the issue on TV. 🙂

I did wonder why Ryan reunited with Tibo in the episode as I thought he might’ve reunited with his dad following ‘Resolution’, but I guess there’s not quite a connection between them yet in the series.

It was good to see Ryan with Tibo though. They both get to enjoy some video games whilst meeting up, though Tibo is rather anxious having had nightmares lately and hasn’t seen Ryan in quite a while.

Ryan shows concern for his friend when he’s bolting up his flat and not being himself lately. He also notices how untidily Tibo has left his flat. It reflects what happens to the friends Ryan leaves behind.

Eventually, Tibo shares with Ryan about the nightmares he’s had. Ryan agrees to stay the night at his flat before he witnesses Ian Gelder’s character kidnapping him in the story. What a shock that is!!! 😮

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 future version of Earth that happens to be burning. Burning, hey?!!

Hmm. Old Tibo accuses Ryan for not coming back home sooner and not very often. Ryan’s absences from home get addressed a lot in this story and it was very intriguing to see that touched upon here.

The same goes for Yaz and Graham when they’re asked questions about their whereabouts from their friends. I like how this story touches upon Graham, Ryan and Yaz’s lives being away from home.

This is where Chris Chibnall’s writing comes into play for the episode. You can tell he knows the characters inside out since he created them and I like how he enhances them more in the episode. 🙂

I did notice the Dregs from ‘Orphan 55’ appearing in Ryan’s nightmares during the episode. I did wonder whether this was a foreshadowing about what was to come in the two-part season TV finale.

This is especially when the Doctor heard the Master’s voice in her nightmares too. It didn’t turn out to be the case here but it’s pretty fascinating how you speculate on things whilst watching a season.

Jodie Whittaker, as ever, excels as the Doctor in this episode. I like how she misses her friends already once they’ve gone and tries 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. The Doctor needs to check that she’s got them shields up when that occurs.

Very soon, Jodie’s Doctor goes back in time to solve the mystery of what’s happening and it’s there she meets up with Tahira in Aleppo, 1830. I like how that scenes builds up with a monster attacking.

I also liked it when Jodie’s Doctor received phone calls from her friends and she links them together on her mobile using the sonic screwdriver. She soon takes Tahira with her and picks up her friends. 🙂

There are times when the Doctor does talk to herself in the episode when no-one’s about. Sign of madness, Doctor?:D It was funny the Doctor was talking to herself, believing her friends were there.

This was when in fact they were taken by Zellin aboard the space platform. How come she didn’t notice her friends were missing? Was she too absorbed in the space platform’s tech to even notice?

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 and the Toymaker. Very gripping! 🙂

Eventually, the Doctor gets captured and taken prisoner by Zellin and Rakaya. The villains are about to set off for Earth to absorb more nightmares from people whilst the Doctor gets put to sleep here.

The Doctor gets to experience her own nightmares as well as Graham, Ryan, Yaz and others. She sees the Timeless Child which has haunted her lately. But who is the Timeless Child? Is it a she or he?

Very often, I like how a continuing story arc keeps being prevalent in certain episodes in ‘Doctor Who’. The Timeless Child arc is really better than what Steven Moffat did with the Hybrid in Series 9.

The episode’s climax did seem 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.

Mind you, I didn’t mind that aspect much since it was made up for with some good character stuff for our leads. It’s often something you don’t find in Steven Moffat’s era compared to Chris Chibnall’s.

And yes, I know how I keep on about Chris Chibnall’s being better than Steven Moffat’s and some would disagree on that. But that’s how I feel as I feel engaged with the characters a lot more often.

It’s a surprising contrast. It’s also intriguing I find Steven Moffat’s era to be average and sandwiched between Russell T. Davies and Chris Chibnall’s eras of ‘Doctor Who’ as I consider them really good. 😐

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 a huge improvement compared to ‘Praxeus’. 🙂

‘Can You Hear Me?’ has a good, surreal dream/nightmare scenario atmosphere with some nice character development thrown in! It’s those kinds of ‘Doctor Who’ stories I often want to see here. 🙂

It’s also good to have a ‘Doctor Who’ episode where it can be scary in a slower pacey atmosphere compared to fast-paced episodes like ‘Orphan 55’. Segun Akinola’s music might also aid that aspect.

At the end of the episode, the Doctor announces about she and her friends visit somewhere involving Frankenstein. She tells her friends to get a change of clothes as they take off in the TARDIS.

At the time, I wasn’t 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.

Maybe I was being premature about this. Perhaps the next episode will turn out to be superb in the end. I was looking forward to what would happen where and when the Doctor and friends go next. 🙂

I was getting the feeling that not everybody would be together by the end of Series 12. Maybe one of the Doctor’s friends would get killed; one would leave her and one of them would stay with her. 😐

I didn’t know what to think. I did wonder if Chris Chibnall would be brave enough to try and kill one of the leads like it happened with Adric in ‘Earthshock’. It’d be unexpected and attention-grabbing. 🙂

I was hoping that we would find out more once we got to the season’s two-part finale. I hoped we would get answers to questions regarding the lone Cybermen, Captain Jack, the Fugitive Doctor, etc.

I did speculate that the Cybermen would appear in the next episode of the season, even though they were promised to appear in the two-part finale. I suspected the Master would appear in the finale.

The DVD/Blu-ray special features for this episode are as follows. On Disc 4 of ‘The Complete Series 12’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s a ‘Closer Look’ on ‘Can You Hear Me?’

‘Can You Hear Me?’ rating – 8/10


The previous story

For the Thirteenth Doctor was

  • ‘The Piggerbackers’ (Comic)

For Graham was

  • ‘The Piggerbackers’ (Comic)

For Ryan was

  • ‘The Piggerbackers’ (Comic)

For Yaz was

  • ‘The Piggerbackers’ (Comic)
The next story

For the Thirteenth Doctor is

For Graham is

For Ryan is

For Yaz is

Return to The Thirteenth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Graham’s Timeline
Return to Ryan’s Timeline
Return to Yaz’s Timeline
Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index
Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index
Return to Doctor Who Timelines
Return to Doctor Who
Return to Sci-Fi

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