Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Lazarus Experiment

Despite the slight apathy I was feeling after last weeks episode I had regained my Doctor Who excitement by mid-week, no doubt at least partly thanks to a shiny new issue of Doctor Who Magazine and a few sly episodes of Frontier in Space. Therefore all was right with the world again when I sat down to watch episode six of the third series; The Lazarus Experiment.

Fairly straight forward story but so well executed. The Doctor gets to be a proper science whizz and fiddle with wires and all that sort of boffin stuff, Gatiss was excellent as a baddie not so far from the Doctor's level of intelligence and I loved their scenes together. This episode makes Mark Gatiss only the third person to have written for and acted in Doctor Who since 1963. I bet he's pleased as punch (whatever that does mean). He must have ben thrilled to be a part of an episode that homages Nigel Kneale as much as this one does with all it's science tapping into ancient horrors. Thelma Barlow was an unexpected boon in this story as I hadn't expected a great deal from her part. Lady Thaw was as much of a monster as Lazarus.

The monster was grotesque and well realised. Scrabbling along corridors and leaping across balconies. Very scary.

Mr Saxon's Evil Little Helper was a nice touch - really building him up aren't they. How long has he been watching the Doctor? Since Canary Wharf? Since the Sycorax invasion? Since the Slitheen? He must be very well prepared to take the Doctor on when he's good and ready. Whoever he is.

Not crazy about Martha's family but they serve their purpose. Considering her Mother seems to have an extra function as Mr Saxon's pawn I'm not thrilled with the acting so far; Adjoa Andoh seems to be a bit more Albert Square than the Powell Estate. Also it seems to me that Reggie off of radio one may as well not be in it so far. Why were they all invited to this experiment anyway?

Martha is briliant and I much prefer her to Rose; and also that her relationship to the Doctor is very different. The Doctor manages to be rude or insulting to her at least once an episode - which I love. He's got a real edge to him now. She keeps making moon eyes at him though so I guess that'll be where it goes.

DT, free of the winking atavism of last weeks closing scenes, is splendid here. Cool and distant to Martha at the beginning; his interaction with Martha, her Mother, and most of all Lazarus is a pitch perfect pleasure. Best of all is the Cathedral conversation between Lazarus and the Doctor. 'You think history's only made with equations?' Lot's of great dialogue throughout the script.

With it's glossy look and fast pacing topped off with multiple climaxes, this story felt more like a good old fashioned SF blockbuster and I think that was the right thing to follow last weeks psuedophilosphical clunking imagery and Star Trek sentimentality. As a result I was already grinning all over my face when the episode ended...

AND THEN... there's the trailer. We're halfway through the series and at the risk of jinxing it I don't see what can go wrong with any of the remaining episodes, Jack, Saxon, Cornell, Moffatt, Chibnall, Derek frickin' Jacobi! If the scarecrows and spaceships and explosions weren't enough for you there's John Simm in a room full of dead or incapacitated people wearing a respirator and tapping the table. The scariest thing I've seen in Who yet.

Vote Saxon!

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