Doctor Who: 42

Martha: "I can't believe our lives depend on some stupid pub quiz."

So there were glaring holes in the science. So it was mostly Sunshine crossed with Alien. It also reminded me quite a bit of season two's "The Impossible Planet/Satan Trap;" I was thinking that maybe they re-used some of the same sets. And when you spend your entire first paragraph pointing out what they did that has already been done, it's not a good sign.

But the thing is, I did like a lot of this one. I liked the story, the pacing, the sweat, the lighting, the claustrophobia. The crew were all really likeable, except for those who were turned into maniacal sun creatures. The captain was tough, competent and compassionate, and she took responsibility for her mistake by giving up her life and taking her husband the threat with her. Too bad nearly everyone died.

I even liked the pub quiz. Although if they were drunk when they thought up those questions, wouldn't they have been likely to program the wrong answers? And I was confused about which crew did it. Wouldn't it make no sense at all if it was a previous crew?

Moving right along.

I do love how the Doctor just jumps into a situation and tries to fix it. Martha jumped in with the same spirit. The Doctor went all white eyes and she got to save everybody; her reward was her shiny new key to the TARDIS. She even got in a little romance with a nice guy during a near death situation. Yes, she panicked big time in the escape pod, and for a moment, I thought they were writing her out. And her Peter-Pan-like "I believe the Doctor will rescue me!" speech was a bit much.

And yes, the universal roaming cell phone bits are always hard for me to swallow, but it certainly worked dramatically when Martha thought she was going to die. And during the pub quiz, when Martha called her mother to ask her that Elvis versus the Beatles question, all I could think of was that Martha used all of her lifelines.

More about Mr. Saxon, whoever he is. Sort of comical, the idea of someone trying to trace that call.

Bits and pieces:

-- I assume that the title of the episode, "42", has to do with the pub quiz, being as it's the answer to everything. Although it was also the number of minutes they had until the ship crashed into the sun at the beginning of the episode. For that matter, it's also the last and most important of Hurley's numbers on Lost.

-- I really, really, really wish that they'd used "minimum safe distance" instead of "impact with the sun." We all know that you couldn't get close enough to crash into the sun; you'd burn up way, way, way before.

-- Again, they were immediately cut off from the TARDIS, or hey, houseguests, problem solved.

-- Another good-sized body count. Of the seven crew members, five died.

-- If you haven't seen Sunshine, it's a recent, pretty good, thought-provoking sci-fi movie about a suicide mission to re-ignite the sun.

-- And if you haven't seen Alien, shame on you. Go out and rent it immediately.

Paul Kelly says...

According to Chris Chibnall (the episode writer), this episode was called 42, partly (as Billie says) because they only had 42 minutes to resolve their dilemma, but it was also a tip of the hat to ex-Who writer Douglas Adams, for whom 42 was the answer to life, the universe and everything. (At least in his books.) Plus, the real-time format had much in common with American TV series 24. 24... 42. You see how clever it all is?

At least Martha managed to get a snog tonight. All that pent-up sexual tension between herself and the Doctor was always going to end up in some sort of lip-locking shenanigans -- I just didn't expect it to be with some random guy. Great escape pod scene though, with the Doctor mouthing "I'll save you" through the vacuum of space, and Martha's hand tapping frantically on the pod window. Great use of silence, too.

The first half hour of the episode was a little boring, but once the Doctor was taken over by the sun entity, it suddenly burst into life. Tennant was brilliant in the possession scenes, but apart from that, the plot was essentially a retread of the Tom Baker episode "Planet Of Evil".

Martha's mum Francine really isn't making it easy for us to like her. At least Jackie was charismatic and funny. Francine's a right pain, and seemingly in cahoots with Saxon's minions. Which can only be bad news for the Doctor and Martha.

Quotes:

Doctor: "Talk about dumbing down. Don't they teach recreational mathematics anymore?"

Doctor: "Martha, be careful. There may be something else onboard the ship."
Martha: "Any time you want to unnerve me, feel free.
Doctor: "Will do, thanks."

Doctor: "Now, where was I? Here Comes the Sun. No, resources."
"Here Comes the Sun" is, of course, a Beatles tune.
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

4 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Despite a decent concept and some brilliant direction by the mighty Graeme Harper I’ve never been fond of this episode. The whole ‘Burn With Me!’ plot felt like a tacked on excuse to slip a monster into a show that didn’t need one and to give the kiddies another toy they could nag their parents into buying. Russell T. Davis has certainly given into the merchandising side of the force.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I like this episode a lot. I know it will never be deemed a classic or anything but it worked for me, especially after the previous three.

Anyone else thrilled that Martha got a love interest in this episode? Riley would've been a decent companion as well.

Love the continuing push of the Saxon mystery. I think it's been the best handled one so far, more subtle perhaps.

Michael Colvin said...

Another use of allons-y - quickly becoming a catchphrase!

42 minutes is approximately how long an episode of TV is without commercials. Nice way to watch when on DVD.

THe "BURN WITH ME" did not have the intellectual capacity to be used as a theme. There was no hidden meaning or turn of phrase with it.

I to also thought of the lifeline idea with the phone call...

Arie said...

One thing I like about this episode is how mad the Doctor was with humans, and specifically humans who just take resources from a sun without scanning for life first. The Doctor is just too pro-human for me sometimes!