Doc & Co want to breathe new life into space workers rights, but the puffed-up airheads running the head office may disagree
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The future has cranked capitalism up to eleven in this twelve-heavy story that has Capaldi putting on airs at Bristol University whilst gasping for another inspiring adventure in space. You can’t keep a good Doctor down, though, and when a serendipitous distress signal reaches the TARDIS across the airwaves they answer the call to adventure.
Constant breath of fresh air, Nardole, huffs after them as well, and soon has every right to air his grievances as the space station they materialise in is full of zombie astronauts breathing down their necks without an air to spare. With no heir apparent, and contending with the situation’s fluid dynamics, our heroes need to think up a wheeze fast while they’re waiting to exhale.
Doc ain’t just full of hot air when he says he’ll – air-quotes – breathe new life into the workers’ rights, but the puffed-up airheads running the head office may disagree. In business, in space, and certainly in space business, the suit makes the man, though, and as Air on a G string plays gently in the background, Team TARDIS must unionise before they can breathe a sigh of relief.
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Space capitalism and Space Zombies. Yeah, this one is fairly pointed in its political commentary, which is something I like in sci-fi when done well. And it is done well here so we’re all good (even if that bit makes me expect Tim Curry to turn up saying SPACE!).
Generally speaking it’s actually a fairly straightforward BUS story (Base Under Siege for the unfamiliar), with the Doctor coming up with a clever solution to get them out of it in the end. But it’s done well which is good. There’s a nice pre-title setup of our space zombies. The Doctor’s theme tune is a distress call, lol but so true. Also fluid link callback, nice. Interesting character point with the blue guy, Nardole and Bill (which I now realise is briefly mentioned later in this series when Bill and Nardole met the blue guy in WEAT so nice bit of internal continuity there).
The Doctor sacrificing his sight in order to help save Bill is very on point but I do find the Doctor predicting that Bill’s suit doesn’t have enough electricity to kill her very convenient. Really I do find this my only real gripe of the story. Everything else is either good or fairly standard.
Having the Doctor injured is a good way of setting up that the Doctor is sometimes a little fallible and foreshadowing the events of the next few episodes 4.0/5 Oxygen Credits
Summary: creepy, claustrophobic – done before maybe, but rarely done better.
Rating: 3.4/5 times Abby should have been slaughtered horribly by mad zombie suit people. We were ROBBED! ROBBED I TELL YOU!
Oxygen – it’s a straight up sci-fi horror story that tips many a nod to so many genres, from the Star Trek opening line to Night of the Living Dead type space zombies. With a warning about capitalist greed which has been covered by Who in the past (Sun-Makers for example) it echoes the theme of the film “Moon”. The main cast are fantastic as ever and Nardole actually gets more screen time and is great fun.
Overall, one of the strongest episodes of all NuWho I can remember. It’s incredibly atmospheric and scary at times harking back to the show’s heyday. I’m certain if I was a kid watching this I’d have been behind the sofa!
I award this story 4.9 packets of crisps from Birmingham out of 5.