Doctor Who season 11’s most recent episode, “Kerblam!” featured a couple of kisses to the past that any fan worth their salt couldn’t have missed. However, it’s easy to overlook the subtle importance of both of these easter eggs.
First off, the TARDIS team were drawn into the mystery concerning the intergalactic Amazon when the Doctor received a belated package from the company, which contained a red fez, of the kind that Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor loved to wear (all together now: “fezzes are cool!”) – and finds the message “Help me” written inside. The implication is that the Kerblam delivery man only gave it to the Time Lord now as she travels around so much and probably hasn’t been in this part of the galaxy or timezone since her eleventh incarnation.
However, it’s later revealed that the Kerblam system was fighting back against the way the villainous Charlie was manipulating it and the call for help came from the system itself. While it’s possible the Doctor had previously ordered the fez, the system might just have wanted to an excuse to deliver the message to the time traveler and probably picked a fez based on her previous purchases (a running joke in the episode).
Secondly, the Doctor briefly tells her pals about the time she was with Agatha Christie facing a giant wasp. This is, of course, a nod to 2007’s “The Unicorn and the Wasp,” in which David Tennant’s Doctor did just that. It seems like a throwaway gag to a random past episode, but it may have been carefully chosen by writer Pete McTighe.
As you may or may not know, “Kerblam!” owes a fair bit to the classic 1977 installment “The Robots of Death,” which takes the structure of an Agatha Christie whodunnit and applies it to a mystery about murderous robots run amok. So, in reality, this easter egg was something of a roundabout tip of the hat to its major influence.
Doctor Who will continue this Sunday with “The Witchfinders” and with any luck, we might just get a few more neat nods to the past.