Doctor Who: The Lazarus Experiment

Lazarus: "I'll be fine in a moment. It's probably just a cramp."

This episode could have been really good. There could have been so many interesting explorations of Lazarus' change as it related to the Doctor's longevity, immortality as a curse instead of a blessing, lonely god, hubris, and so on. The experiment was even evocative of how the Doctor regenerates, and the youth booth much the same size as the Tardis. The parallels were so obvious that I honestly thought that was where they were going.

But no. Lazarus goes off and argues with his wife, turns into a mutated giant lobster, and starts rampaging about. Lots of icky dead bodies and chase scenes. And then the story turned into a cross between the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera. Yes, there could have been screaming and chase scenes, but couldn't we have had some substance first?

Lazarus turning on his wife so quickly made so little sense, too. It seemed to me that a man that obsessed with youth would have had a young trophy wife, not one his own age. And if he'd cared enough to stay married to her for so long, wouldn't he have wanted her in the booth too, like immediately? Ah, well. It was probably rampant lobster hormones or something.

Speaking of marriage... the rest of this one was the Doctor versus his new, angry "in-laws." Mum, Tish and Leo are nothing like Jackie and Mickey, but they still want Martha to have nothing to do with that dangerous Doctor that constantly gets their Martha into danger. And Martha is still looking at the Doctor so longingly. Instead of taking her on as a proper companion, the Doctor really should have detached before it gets ugly, which you just know it will. And what about her schooling? Being a doctor isn't something you just blow off, like working in a shop.

Who was the guy talking to Mrs. Jones? Who is Harold Saxon? I don't remember hearing that name before.

Bits and pieces:

-- I really liked the Doctor in a tux at the party, snarfing down hors d'oeuvres. I particularly liked the formal black and white sneakers; the red ones just wouldn't do, I suppose.

-- Martha's sister is named Tish, for Letitia. I've always been fond of the name Letitia. I thought for a moment that Tish would go along. She certainly seemed interested.

-- I'm late mentioning this, but I swear that the Doctor yells "Run!" in pretty much every episode.

Paul Kelly says...

Tonight's episode was a veritable who's who of British television. We had Thelma Barlow (AKA Mavis Riley from Coronation Street) playing Lady Thaw, the difficult to spell Adjoa Andoh (AKA Colette Griffiths from Casualty) playing Francine Jones, and Mark Gatiss (member of The League Of Gentlemen) playing Professor Richard Lazarus. It's cool that so many famous people want to be on the show, but I really wish they wouldn't. It's so distracting.

We had a genetic manipulation story last episode, and the idea of recapturing one's youth has been a staple in science-fiction since the year dot, so it was always going to take something special to make this episode shine. I don't think they quite pulled it off. The CGI monster wasn't quite up to snuff, but admittedly looked great running around the ceilings and walls. The capsule effects, likewise, were excellent. And, as is slowly becoming the norm, some excellent location shooting made this episode visually captivating. There were some lovely externals of Southwark Cathedral, and some nice internals of Wells Cathedral. I've actually been to Wells Cathedral but don't recall the tower looking like that. Was it part was a set, maybe?

Sadly, Tish turned out to be a little shallow. She seemed repulsed by the Professor's earlier advances, yet no sooner had he shed forty years, and she was all over him. Err, Tish... it's the same bloke. And not a very nice one, either. It was cruel of him to to ridicule Lady Thaw's looks, when only hours before he'd looked like a wrung-out dish-rag himself. How quickly one forgets.

There were some nice contrasts, too, between Lazarus and the Doctor. Whereas Lazarus was a man hell bent on prolonging his life, seemingly at any cost, the Doctor has had longevity thrust upon him by an accident of birth and it's not been an easy ride. He's outlived his whole race, his friends, his loved ones. And while Lazarus seemed happy to write people off as collateral damage providing his long term goal of living beyond his natural life span was maintained, for the Doctor it's the people that make life worth living.

Some nice Doctor/Martha stuff too this week. Martha was quite right to complain about her permanently temporary companion status. Give the girl a key to the TARDIS, dammit! We even got to see her knickers this week. Not that the Doctor seemed particularly impressed. Someone put him in a bag and shake him up. Please!

Quotes:

Doctor: "No, I'm sorry, did he say he was going to change what it means to be human?"

Doctor: "That looks like it might be a sonic micro-field manipulator."
Tish: "He's a science geek. I should have known."

Martha: "It's impossible."
Doctor: "And that's two impossible things we've seen so far tonight. Don't you love it when that happens?"

Marsha: "Tish, he's a monster!"
Tish: "I know the age thing's a bit freaky, but it works for Catherine Zeta-Jones."

Mrs. Jones: "Keep away from my daughter."
Martha: "Mum, what are you doing?"
Doctor: "Always the mothers. Every time."

Doctor: "Lazarus. Back from the dead. Should have known, really."

Lazarus: "Maybe you are older than you look."
Doctor: "I'm old enough to know that a longer life isn't always a better one."

Martha: "You should take more care in the future. And the past."
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

3 comments:

shawnlunn2002 said...

I really didn't take to this one. It's just a bit generic for my liking I guess.

Mark Gatiss played off well against David Tennant I guess but Lazarus isn't the best villain we've had.

I actually like Tish. The rest of Martha's family aren't as great I guess.

Loving the Saxon mystery.

Paul Kelly said...

As well as "run"... "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" gets said an awful lot too. Obviously, the script-writers know how to copy and paste. Either that, or at some point, there's going to be a big storyline pay off... where we find out that the Doctor's been suffering from progressively worsening amnesia ;o)

Paul

Michael Colvin said...

Minor add on - really like that we finally saw Martha remember that she's a medical student. I thought with her whole family in black tie that something might have happened to either her mum or to Leo, but luckily they escaped with just a concussion.