‘Praxeus’ (TV)

‘PRAXEUS’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Praxeus with the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz

After the insanity that went on in ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’, I suppose things would’ve calmed down by the time we got to the next episode. And they do since it’s always fair to have a breather episode.

But I was hoping for a big follow-up to the exciting revelations that we’ve had so far regarding Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and her past. This is especially with Chris Chibnall co-writing this certain episode.

‘Praxeus’ is an episode by Pete McTighe and Chris Chibnall. Pete McTighe previously wrote ‘Kerblam!’, my favourite episode of Series 11 of ‘Doctor Who’! I still watch that episode to this day. 🙂

Pete McTighe has also contributed heavily to the classic ‘Doctor Who’ seasons on Blu-ray, especially the ‘Behind the Sofa’ items which I have greatly enjoyed watching. He comes across as a good egg. 🙂

I was looking forward to Pete McTighe’s contribution to Series 12 this time around. I hoped for a thrilling ride with a surprise twist at the end. I also hoped for some excellent character development.

After seeing ‘Praxeus’ though; I found it…err…um…decent. Okay look, the episode’s not terrible. It’s got some good stuff in it, especially with the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends featured in the tale. 🙂

But I don’t know; this episode felt underwhelming by the end. This is surprising, considering Chris Chibnall wrote this episode with Pete McTighe. I was hoping for there to be another plot revelation.

We have been getting them so far throughout the season. I hoped for something big as was the case in the previous episode with Jo Martin’s Ruth being revealed as another incarnation of the Doctor. 🙂

I think Pete McTighe should’ve written this episode by himself to match to the quality of the storytelling that featured in ‘Kerblam!’ I wonder Chris Chibnall ruined Pete McTighe’s initial premise.

If Chris Chibnall was going to co-write this episode with Pete McTighe, it should be significant and tie in to something for the two-part season finale. I didn’t feel I got that sadly from watching the episode.

Am I being unfair? Err…well…let’s talk about the episode. The story takes place in the 21st century. I presume it’s 2020, although I hope now it’s sometime in early 2020 rather than in the middle of it. 😀

In the episode, an astronaut crash-lands to Earth. Strange happenings go on with people dying in various continents such as Peru, Hong Kong and Madagascar. So, there’s 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. They also meet up with other people connected to all this.

It gradually leads them to somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Can the Doctor and her friends stop the terror that’s connected to the plastic pollution? Is it some kind of deadly alien virus affecting people?

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 story.

But I was thinking there could have been monsters like with the maggots that were featured in ‘The Green Death’. I wonder why Pete McTighe didn’t go for that as he’s a huge ‘Doctor Who’ fan himself.

The Daleks could’ve been the cause for the plastic pollution disease too. It could’ve connected to what’s been going on in this season had those metal monsters met up with Cybermen or something.

Instead, Praxeus turns out to be this deadly virus that’s killing the plastic inside the people. And it does this by encasing people into bone-like skin before they explode. That’s actually really terrifying.

At the time of this episode, fans speculated that the Praxeus virus was a reference to the coronavirus occurring in the world. Ha! I had no idea how much of an impact that virus would cause.

It’s interesting how fans speculated on that though, since the episode was written in 2019 before the coronavirus occurred in 2020. Also intriguing how fiction can often parallel with real life at times.

The episode has a good guest cast. There’s Warren Brown as Jake Willis, an ex-police officer. Warren Brown is so well-known in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe for playing Sam Bishop in the Big Finish audios.

Sam Bishop appears in the new ‘U.N.I.T.’ series and in the ‘Lady Christina’ series by Big Finish. I’ve heard Warren in the ‘Lady Christina’ audios. He’s also done other Big Finish roles in his acting career.

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? I’m quite baffled by that here.

It would’ve connected the ‘Doctor Who’ TV show to the Big Finish audios if he played Sam Bishop in the flesh. I honestly would’ve liked India Fisher to play Charley Pollard in the flesh on TV someday. 🙂

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 has gone missing because…he was his lover and husband.

Yeah that was introduced rather late in the episode. I think that could have been better if it was established early on. Maybe there were hints and clues of that, but on first watch, I didn’t register it.

It was like the episode shock-surprised you with that revelation, especially as Graham asked Jake what his connection with Adam Lang is. Matthew McNulty guest stars as Adam Lang the astronaut. 🙂

Adam Lang gets infected by the Praxeus disease upon his return to Earth. Interestingly, his infection rate seems to be slower compared to other victims who got infected. Can the Doctor rescue Adam?!

The episode also has Joana Borja as Gabriela Camara and Gabriela (that confused me for a minute in the cast list :D) Toloi as Jamila Velez who travel together in Peru. I think the two are a couple as well.

There’s also Molly Harris as Suki Cheng and Thapelo Maropefela as Arumu whom the Doctor meets in Madagascar in the episode. The two happen to be scientists who see the Doctor run on the beach.

There’s also Tristan de Beer as Zach Olson whom the Doctor rescued on the beach at Madagascar before he got turned into bones with getting infected by the Praxeus disease and exploded instantly.

The Doctor, her friends and the others must find a way to counteract the lethal disease. If only the Doctor and her friends could’ve stopped the coronavirus fast enough the way they stopped Praxeus.

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 so well-handled.

Pete McTighe and Chris Chibnall are good in terms of the writing of the characters, who come across as resourceful and likeable. This especially with Yaz’s character as she isn’t so underused in the tale.

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 Jake and they find Adam in a warehouse. 🙂

The Doctor is in Madagascar where she meets up with Suki and Arumu and rescues Zach before he gets killed. It’s a juggling act of three storylines in the first half but it does come together rather neatly. 🙂

Tosin Cole is good as Ryan, especially when he meets up with Gabriela and helps her with finding Jamila. Ryan’s confidence shines throughout. There isn’t much of a hint connected to his dyspraxia. 🙂

Ryan also manages to capture one of the terrifying birds that flew about in the tale. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. There are swarms of flying birds connected with the Praxeus disease in the episode.

They’re also involved with the killing off of plastic pollution and such. The attacking birds did remind me of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ movie for some reason, even though I haven’t seen the film yet.

I’m dismayed they didn’t connect to the Doctor’s past. This is especially in keeping in mind that the Doctor had dealt with birds before when she was Sylvester McCoy during ‘A Thousand Tiny Wings’. 🙂

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. I did laugh at that.

The humour in this episode is rather good, especially with the interaction between the characters – both regular and supporting cast. I wish that could’ve saved the episode for me in being really good.

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 to them.

She has Gabriela joining her as her companion when going back into the warehouse. They soon go and teleport someplace else. I think that Yaz could have her own spin-off show with a companion. 😀

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 this when the Doctor reveals it to her. 😐

This is when the Doctor and the others meet up with Yaz and Gabriella inside the strange plastic-made construct in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I still like that Yaz got to have her own adventure.

Bradley Walsh is equally superb as Graham in the episode. I love that scene where he reads a tracker upside down before Yaz turns it the right way up for him in order to find what they came to look for.

It’s genuinely funny! 🙂 Bradley Walsh knows how to balance the comedy and seriousness of Graham’s character in the series and I think that’s why many people who watch the show like him. 🙂

There are some nice scenes between Graham and Jake when he tries to connect with him in his relationship with Adam. Apparently Jake and Adam haven’t been getting on well with each other. 😐

The way Graham connects to Jake sort-of echoes Graham connecting to Yaz during a low moment she had in ‘Demons of the Punjab’. Graham states he has had some nursing experience. With Grace?

Jodie Whittaker as ever is wonderful as the Doctor. I liked that moment when the Doctor is just there when Graham, Yaz and Jake weren’t looking, carrying Adam out of that Hong Kong warehouse.

I like it when Jodie’s Doctor is on fire whilst she’s working out the mystery featured in this episode. Her eagerness for adventure and her approach to treating humans nicely matches to that fieriness. 🙂

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 and the birds connected to the virus. 😐

She also tries to work out how various continents are connected with certain deaths. But the Doctor does have compassion and says she is ‘a romantic’ at heart when reuniting Jake and Adam together.

It was a surprise twist when Suki Cheng turned out to be involved with what was going on with the plastic, the birds and such. It’s also a surprise that Suki turned out not to be human as she appeared.

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. The Doctor and her friends do everything they can with providing an anti-virus.

They hope to use it against the Praxeus disease by spreading it out across the planet Earth’s stratosphere. They use Suki’s alien ship after she got killed. Yeah, even the Doctor couldn’t save her.

This was before Suki became overcome with the disease. I must admit, the horror moments featured in the episode are good. I did go “WHOA!” at certain points once seeing the story’s horror moments.

It was even a shock upon re-watching the episode when Arumu got attacked by birds in the episode. I’m disappointed that no-one asked where Arumu was once he had been attacked by the birds here.

Then again, the Doctor and the others were in a rush to get out of Suki’s lab once the swarm of birds came to attack them. They probably didn’t have time to think about Arumu and whether he had died.

I did think things went downhill by the time the episode came to an end. This is especially when Jake tried to self-sacrifice himself by piloting a ship into the sky to spread the anti-virus to save the Earth.

He had to do it since the autopilot wasn’t working and the anti-virus needed to be spread across Earth’s stratosphere. But the Doctor soon rescued Jake with the TARDIS, stopping his self-sacrifice. 😐

And look, I don’t like it when characters get killed off in an episode, even if it’s one of the supporting ones. Very often, I’m very happy to see characters survive a perilous event in order to be redeemed.

But I think it would’ve been dramatic had Jake died and made a huge sacrifice to save others, including Adam. That way, it could’ve emphasised how much he loved Adam and save other people.

If it was Sam Bishop self-sacrificing himself in the episode before he got rescued by the Doctor instead, I could’ve appreciated it more! That way, the Big Finish connections could’ve been stronger.

To be fair, not all the episodes in Series 12 as well as the Chris Chibnall/Jodie Whittaker era have been like that. They haven’t all ended with the dead returning to life like Steven Moffat had done it.

Pete McTighe and Chris Chibnall didn’t bring back everybody from the grave in this episode. I’m pretty certain that Jamila, Zach and Aramu stayed dead from the virus once this episode had ended.

I think the issue with this episode, like ‘Orphan 55’, is that we’re not given enough time to know the characters to a great extent and how they relate to each other, like with Jake and Adam being lovers.

But then, ‘Praxeus’ isn’t as bad as ‘Orphan 55’. ‘Praxeus’ does have a slower pace compared to ‘Orphan 55’ which is all over the place. If the stories were two-parters, I would have enjoyed them. 🙂

I do like that the storytelling in both ‘Orphan 55’ and ‘Praxeus’ is linear. Yes, there is jumping to and fro in ‘Praxeus’ with going to various continents, but at least it isn’t Steven Moffat-confusing writing.

Despite that, it does feel underwhelming when there isn’t a lot of emotional impact from the supporting characters. This is especially concerning how Jake and Adam’s relationship gets resolved.

Jake self-sacrificing himself in the episode could’ve made us emphasise for Adam’s loss when he lost her husband. It sounds and feels tragic I know, but it would’ve made the self-sacrifice very dignified.

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. And how dare she become a third of the crowd?

Again, I’m not sure if Jamila was simply her best friend or her lover. I’m pretty sure it was the latter as it’s implied in the tale. The Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz soon head off in the TARDIS at the end.

So yeah, ‘Praxeus’ was a disappointment on my part. Perhaps I was expecting too much from this episode, but it felt underwhelming. It wasn’t as good as Pete McTighe’s previous effort in ‘Kerblam!’

There were good moments to be found though and I appreciate the character development for our main leads and supporting cast. The environmentally friendly message is also appreciated in the tale.

I do wonder if I’m being harsh on ‘Praxeus’ as an episode as well as ‘Orphan 55’ as I do like Ed Hime and Pete McTighe as writers. It’s a shame their contributions for Series 12 seem so underwhelming.

This is a contrast compared to their episodes for Series 11. Maybe I wasn’t in a good frame of mind when watching ‘Praxeus’ and misjudged it incorrectly as I’ve heard many people rate it positively. 😐

It might be down to the editing and the directing that’s causing the problem as the stories behind ‘Orphan 55’ and ‘Praxeus’ are good ones in general. Again, if they were two-parters, they’d be good.

Like I said before in previous reviews, there should be more character-focused episodes on the companions. Graham, Ryan and Yaz haven’t been given an episode each in this season, which is sad.

They need to have their standout episode in Series 12 like with Adric, Nyssa and Tegan in Season 19. I really would like to happen for these three characters and I’m surprised that hasn’t happened yet.

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 ‘Praxeus’.

‘Praxeus’ rating – 6/10


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