Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Time Lord 1.8 - Exactly What It Says On The Tin

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Episode: Mummy on the Orient Express
Song: Hold On, I'm Coming by Michael Bolton

A clock with sixty-six seconds ticks away, a lightbulb flickers, a mummy roars and the Doctor whispers.
Nigel: What the hell? Is this the trailer? Or a nightmare?
Dave: The timer in the background is wierd. I guess the countdown's going to be scientifically accurate, until in 42. And I liked 42, I really did, but...
Andrew: OCD. We get it.

A little old lady on a train spots the mummy through her opera glasses.
N: It's Mrs. Hardacre, vampire fodder from The Curse of Fenric!
D: It's Mrs. Bayle, balloonist-seducer from As Time Goes By.
N: I'm not sure if she's aged well or always been old... but that flapper gear does not look good on her.
A: Shouldn't the clock start now, the moment she sees it? Mrs. Bayle's been robbed of 12 seconds!

No one else can see the club-footed mummy. Little old lady takes a while to understand this.
N: Ugh. Is it going to give her the kiss of death?
D: She's a bit of a cow, demanding they chuck out what she thinks is just some cosplayer...
N: Oh good, it just killed her with magic. No zombie french kiss.

So there's a murder on the Orient Express. In space.
A: Clearly no one was paying attention to the end of The Big Bang, cause that's not an Egyptian Goddes... is it?
N: So Mrs. Bayle and everyone else is dressed out of Jeeves and Wooster and she asks if there's a costume party? Aren't they all cosplaying?
A: Killed once by vampires and once by a mummy. She just needs a werewolf to complete the set, really.
D: Thank god the Doctor didn't turn up when someone started calling for him. That's a relief nowadays.

For some reason, Clara is back and wants a final boring-not-scary adventure in time and space with the Doctor before she dumps his ass forever.
D: Wow. You think that conversation would be worth being seen.
N: Yeah, I thought she was sick of his holier-than-thou-callous-manipulative ways. And she's dealing with it by continuing to hang round with him.
A: Look at the Doctor, practically grovelling in thanks she's come back. He must be desperate to make amends. I'm surprise he didn't block her number and go back to his choice of passtime sitting on the TARDIS and sulking...
N: Damn, Clara looks good when she's cosplaying Phryne Fisher!

Some chick sings a Queen song.
N: She's famous.
A: Doesn't ring a bell. Murray Gold couldn't provide us a song again this year?
D: I hate Don't Stop Me Now. She should sing Trains & Boats & Planes, much more appropriate.
A: Is she going to be a main character? Coz, Kylie should have been the in-flight entertainment...
D: This is a kid's show and this dusky bint is crooning she is a sex machine about to explode!

The Doctor and Clara are super awkward together.
D: I really think Clara should have left in the last one. It would be a huge blow for his most faithful companion to ditch him, it would have smacked some sense into him. Instead she comes crawling back.
N: And the Doctor isn't even trying to say "Baby, I love you, I can change..." If he refuses to change his approach, well, why the hell should we keep watching.
A: In fairness, the Doctor's a lot funnier and a lot less mean this week.

N: Hey, B7 reference! The planet Obsidian! And Dr. Blight from Robin Hood and Hercules Fortisque from In The Red! Yay!
D: Wasn't he Canis in Death Comes To Time?
N: DON'T YOU DARE MENTION THAT ABOMINATION IN MY PRESENCE AGAIN!

Clara is ambivalent about her final holiday being on a mummy-infested deathtrap.
D: So Clara isn't so much pissed off about time travel and fighting monsters, just that she has to do it with Peter Capaldi? Because he's a total arse compared to Matt Smith.
A: ...looks like.
N: But the Doctor doesn't offer to try and be different - even Sixie could promise that - but just basically goes "No, no, you said you were quitting, you're not getting me to change my mind!" in a huff. He might be hurt, or he might not give a flying crap if he never sees her again and he's definitely projecting the latter.
A: Well, he could always go crawling back to Journey Blue if he wants a companion.
D: And I bet she turns him down too. Man, the War Doctor had more friends than this jerk...


Clara assumes the Doctor will visit her socially after they part company.
D: So... she does like the new Doctor? I thought she despised him!
A: Why would she assume he'd want to socialize with her? The only time he lingered in 2014 was coz he was hunting down a killer robot! And it's not like she's plunged into his timestream and seen him abandon everyone forever whenever he can?
N: Even Matt Smith didn't want to hang around her on Earth... Either Clara really isn't coping with her trauma or else the writers aren't talking to each other again. Coz that never causes problems...
D: By the way, true props to Peter Capaldi for this scene. He really is a great actor.
A: Never said otherwise. Just wish he would play the Doctor for once.

As night falls... somehow... the Doctor and Clara decide to stay up late and sneak around.
D: The Doctor's talking to himself. Does that mean the hiders are back?
N: He's doing a more convincing Tom Baker impression than Jon Culshaw. Not that that'd be difficult.
A: Isn't that a New Adventures thing where the ghosts of old Doctors would randomly cameo?
N: Nah. Just in Strange England.
A: I like Strange England.

The Doctor meets a bloke called Perkins investigating the murders.
D: His voice sounds just like Bryan Cox.
N: Wow, someone this Doctor gets on with right away! It's practically full-frontal sex!
A: I like the Doctor is actually interested in solving the mystery of his own free will instead of being forced into it at gun point. It's such a relief for him to actually want to be part of an adventure for a change.
N: Dude, seriously, he and Perkins are all but snogging! I haven't seen so much homosexual subtext since, er, 2 Broke Girls.
D: Subtext, my arse...

Clara meets Mrs. Bayles granddaughter Maisie who is clearly off her face.
D: Her voice sounds just like Olivia Coleman.
N: Yeah, anyone who introduces themselves with the words "I'm not mad" before attacking the wall with a stilleto heel is probably in need of new meds.
A: Luckily this means she's mentally a child and Clara will be nice to her. Even though she's only there to laugh at the rancid corpse and escape her own guilt...
D: I'm not sure how Clara is relating to this. Has she been hoping the Doctor will die horribly or something? Because otherwise, I'm not sure what this stuff about forgiveness is...
A: Maise's right. Clara's refusing to get out of the relationship is unhealthy for all concerned. Yes, that's right, a clearly crazy woman has a better grip on things than our companion.

The Doctor, in a right flirty mood, shares lollies with old posh men just like himself.
D: So, um, is he gay this week? Has he ever been this nice to women?
N: That bloke is the "Fill Her!!! Cum Sah Dispatch!!!" loser from The King's Demons.
A: Wow. He definitely got some acting lessons in between.
N: Mind you, this time he doesn't have Anthony Ainley in a red wig gargling John Cleese catchphrases...
D: The Doctor's doing that "what's the most important thing?" rhetoric question again. That bugs me. It's as relevent to the ongoing plot as him just shouting "What? What?! WHAT??!" for all the good it does. Stop showing off and get on with the story, damnit.
N: Yeah, how were the audience supposed to know the Orient Express is full of Mummy experts? Was Mrs. Bayle a Mummy Expert? No! Damn this is irritating.

Meanwhile, a non-speaking extra is killed by the mummy. Or the Foretold, as it's called.
N: Meh. The guy didn't even get dialogue. Are we supposed to be weeping?
A: It's another voiceless unstoppable monster that takes ages to kill people so you realize just how much you're screwed before you die. That's, what the sixth this series...
D: If there are so many legends about the Foretold, there must be survivors. Especially if they know there's some way to tell it to spare your life...

The Doctor yells at the security guard for being lazy, but Perkins is helpful. More helpful than Clara, anyway.
N: Yeah, this is more like it. The angry Doctor determined to stop the killings, bullying people OUT of inaction and doing everything possible to save things instead of sulking.
D: Maybe Clara has finally snapped him out of it.
A: Perkins is clearly companion material. Haven't seen such obvious TARDIS fodder since Craig.
D: He'll be dead before the credits, I bet.

The Doctor learns that Clara and Crazy Maisie are locked in the baggage cart with a sarcophagus.
N: It's that damn iron maiden again!
D: "Fill her!"
A: Yeah, the story's very much on the Doctor's side this time. Clara's really giving mixed signals. Does she want to stay with him or not?

Another murder is due, but it turns out the sarcophagus is full of bubble wrap and another non-speaking extra is dope-slapped to death by the invisible Foretold.
D: Wow, so the invisible countdown can trick the audience into thinking someone will be killed. That's... novel.
A: Captain Blight's turnaround is a novel twist, too. Everyone's pulling their finger out this week instead of bitching at the unfairness of everything. Such a change from moan, moan, moan all the time.

The Doctor reveals that the train computer has lured them together to study the Foretold.

A: It's Missy behind it all, obviously.
N: Another B7 ref! The holograms switch off with teleport sfx! Not even Big Finish can do that.
D: All the hard-light holograms are from Red Dwarf, though. Does that make it canon?

A: So, wait, was the famous singer a hologram too?
D: Heh. I like how the best guard was a hologram. Too good to be true, huh?

Of course to study the Foretold, they need to see it so Professor Moorhouse gets a fatal dope-slap.
N: Nifty change for the pointless deaths to be the point of the story.
D: And a reason for the Doctor to be rude. There is literally no time for kindness or mercy.
A: Mind you, if he didn't keep shouting "KEEP TALKING DON'T WASTE THIS CHANCE!" the poor guy might have got a word in edgeways in the first place.
D: Um, are they just leaving the bodies on the floor? It's hardly safe work practises...

Clara rings up to reveal what the bubble-wrap sarcophagus really is.

N: Handy they left all those diagrams around for Clara and Maisie to find. Why didn't Gus tell them? Are we trying to find something for Clara to do now Perkins is in town?
D: No, let me get this straight - they seriously believe the unstoppable Foretold can be wrapped up in bubblewrap? Are they going to post it second class or something?
A: Ooh, the Foretold's rampaged through dozens of ships before this one. Were they all space-trains I wonder?

Gus the computer spaces the catering staff when the Doctor keeps talking on the phone.
A: Bit of an overreaction. It was work related!
N: Why couldn't the Doctor just text?
D: Why couldn't Gus just say "hang up or the kitchen crew get it!"?
N: Space-catering is clearly the most dangerous job bar Spinal Tap drummers - they got butchered in Voyage in the Damned as well, and by computerized death machines too.
A: And we have this weeks' "avoidable massacre caused by Doctor's stubbornness". Woo-hoo.

It quickly transpires that the Foretold is hunting the weakest of the pack - including mental illnesses. But since Captain Blight has PTSD he's next for the fatal groping.
A: Wow. You know, I think this is the first time David Bamber's played someone halfway sympathetic.
N: Yeah, he faces death with a surprising amount of dignity, all told. Almost Brigadierish.
D: The claw passing through the Doctor's head is well freaky. I can see why this ep didn't get past the censors and they shoved the whole thing to a late night slot.
A: The Doctor's right for once about the need to be brutal; it's like the more determined and passionate he is on something the more he'll behave like an utter fuckwit. And Perkins puts his finger on the problem - the Doctor has to justify his arrogance before anyone will put up with him.

The Foretold's next victim will be Maisie because obviously Clara is perfectly sane. Obviously.
N: Oh, so NOW the Doctor can use the phone without mass deaths? Definitely a cut scene.
D: I think we've got another downer ending on our hands, people: Clara's missed most of the episode, so she doesn't realize it's for the greater good. The Doctor comes across as a callous psycho again, but this time we can actually see his side. This is very good.
A: You think Moffat wrote it?
N: Impossible. We're actually seeing it on screen instead of idly discussed in throwaway dialogue.

Clara has issues with the Doctor, especially as he knew this was a trap. Well, not "knew" but "hoped".
N: Hah! That's right out of Archer, that is. More of this Doctor, please!
A: I'm confused. Why base an entire story on one line of dialogue and then get it completely wrong? I mean, didn't years of New Adventures and Big Finish and crappy Kartz/Reimer fanfic suggest this was a bad idea? What was the point of the Orient Express in Space - it could be anywhere isolated... Mummy on a Submarine in Lava for all it matters...
D: Big picture wise, Clara's quite selfish, really. I mean, if you think about it, if the Doctor kept ignoring the lure, then all the people on the train would be dead meat. She's actually angry that the Doctor's chosen to try and save people. Mind you, little picture wise Clara's had every negative about this new guy confirmed.

Clara continues to yell at the Doctor for being a lying piece of amoral crap.
D: ...has JLC always had that mole on her lip?
N: ...no. She must have painted it on. She didn't have it in previous eps, that's for sure.
D: Maybe she's not concealing it as a sign of her disgust. As a protest.
A: As long as it doesn't burst open and spiders come out. Moon spiders.

And Clara is still very cross.
D: She's conveniently forgotten her lying to Danny and everyone, hasn't she?
A: Well, that's a rather dodgy privacy issue. She's not been leading someone to her death before.

Maise sees Mummy. Doctor zaps Maise. Doctor zaps Doctor. Doctor sees Mummy. Doctor won't shut up about it.
N: So, starter for ten: how the hell did the Doctor manage to built a mental-traumer polymorph brainsucker thing out of a random prop in less than three minutes?
A: Come to think of it, if the Doctor's so mentally screwed up, why hadn't the Foretold gone for him sooner? Unless he really has got over all his survivor guilt and stuff...
D: The question is, has Clara guilt-tripped him into saving Maisie or was he going to save her all along?

The Doctor still won't shut up.
D: So the bit at the start was a flashforward to this bit?
A: Oh god, "Are You My Mummy?" Why do people find that funny? WHY?!

The Doctor says pax and the Mummy turns to dust.
A: Another bit of malfunctioning tech. It seems the big theme of NuWho is that lack of IT Support will cost untold billions of innocent lives.
N: But... people knew that you could escape the Foretold by saying the right thing, so other people have surrendered. Why didn't the Foretold turn to dust ages ago? Are there other Foretold? Is this sequel fodder?
A: "Spread the word. Just say you surrender and the mummy will die. Appeasement is good!"
D: The Doctor seems very sympathetic for a monster that's a soldier. Maybe seeing Captain Blight kark it and getting the know Danny had finally got that freaking chip off his shoulder.

Gus the computer, full of gratitude, turns off the air and blows up the Orient Express.
D: Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. There is no kill like overkill is there?
N: Won't that destroy the very tech Gus was after in the first place?

Clara wakes up on a pink beach with the Doctor.
A: Are they in heaven now? Is Missy going to turn up?
D: God dammit, I dread to think how many cut scenes this story has. This is as bad as Curse of the Black Spot!
A: Well, the Doctor's explained everything but this is like that DAAS Kapital episode where it cuts to them in bed saying "Wow, what a lucky happy ending we had!" Except, you know, that was a comedy and this is supposed to be serious drama.
N: I don't get why the Doctor dragged the unconscious Clara out onto a beach. It's not like it's a particularly pretty beach. The whole place looks like Captain Goodvibes' island after deforestation...

Turns out the Doctor teleported everyone to safety. Or maybe he let them all die.
N: Oh yeah, that's it. Undo a whole episode full of character repair why don't you.
A: I mean, yeah, I could buy the Doctor letting them all die. This one, anyway. It's pretty much what he's done before. We have to blindly trust he did the good thing because there's not a lot of evidence to say otherwise.
D: So we are, in fact, back where we started. Great.

But the Doctor was actually always going to save Maise. Or maybe he wasn't.
N: "Would you like to think that about me?" he says. So is he asking would we like to think he was heartless or would we like think he isn't but pretends to be? God damn it, Doc, answer a fucking question properly!
D: I don't get this "choose from bad choices" stuff. The Doctor could either let Maisie die or try without certainty to save her. That's nothing like what he did to Clara last week, marooning her on a suicide mission and leaving her convinced he was playing games with her life.
N: And ultimately, if the Doctor isn't heartless then he must have learned pretending to do so is just driving everyone away. Which is obviously not what he wants. Is it?
A: I'll say that the Doctor's justified himself in this story. Clearly the script editor didn't link it up neatly to last week, because the Doctor's proving himself not to be a heartless jerk but not a well-intentioned enabler of the human race...

With Clara's continued companionship up in the air, the Doctor picks Perkins as a replacement.
A: Awesome! He'll be like a cross between Drax and K9!
D: What's more, he's getting on with the new Doctor - he's seen him at his best and won't compare him to Matt Smith. It's always the way, the better companions don't compare and contrast.
N: He's like an older version of Fitz. Or a male Evelyn. This is truly impressive.

Perkins says no.
All: FUCK!
A: He's sad to say no, it's obvious. But it's stated that the TARDIS, the Doctor and Clara are bringing out the worst in each other. They are off-putting. This is obviously deliberate.
N: Yay, it's supposed to be miserable crap. Let joy be unconfined.

D: We can but hope Perkins will pull a Donna Noble and return as a full-time companion once all this crap is out of the way.

Clara seems a bit... odd.
A: Is the oxygen starvation made her wierd? She's getting turned on by the power of life and death that the Doctor has over people... that's... I mean, hell, even Thomas Fuckwit Brewster wasn't this bad.
D: By contrast, the Doctor seems to hate his life. Is it just Perkins turning him down or what?
N: I wonder how much 12/Perkins slash fics are already out there.
N: What's this about the Doctor never giving up TARDIS travel? TRENZALORE, PEOPLE! He gave it up for 900 years and he sure as hell wasn't "addicted" to having supreme power over the war...
A: This is... it's not badly-written, but badly-researched. Clara seems to have decided TARDIS life isn't fun or dangerous but the ultimate control thrill which MIGHT have made sense after she changed all of human history, but this week she was locked in a room all night.
N: Maybe now she's decided the Doctor's not heartless, she doesn't feel guilty about enjoying the power rush.
D: Shit, this is exactly how Servalan started!

And one phone call from Danny convinces Clara to restart her double-life.
A: Wha...? What?!?

D: For someone with such a big issue about lying, Clara's certainly using it a lot, isn't she?
A: Wait a sec. Clara's saying she's staying because Danny's fine about her travelling, as if it was only Danny that was stopping her travelling. Despite all the times she's told the Doctor to his face it's her decision.

D: And Danny WAS fine with her travelling as long as she didn't get pushed too far. I mean, in theory, all she has to do is ring Danny and say "I'm giving him a second chance" and he should be cool. Obviously, there would be lengthy talks but...
N: It's obviously this power trip she's on. Now she's screwed up the Doctor and Danny's childhoods she wants to control them in the present and the easiest way to do that is lie.

The Doctor is so, so happy to have her back.
D: Wow. Actual smile. Not scary flesh-hungry grin.
A: You see! It's not difficult! Just let him be happy! Give him a robot dog or something!
N: And Clara's happy too. I mean, she's obviously gone mad with power, but at last they both look actually happy to be involved in... anything. This is a good note to end on.
D: Will Clara keep the lip mole from now on?
N: I hope not...


4.9/5

N: According to The Official DWM poll results, this is already the 11th most popular DW story ever.
D: What's 10th?
N: Remembrance of the Daleks.
D: That's fair. This had a scary monster, likeable Doctor, decent characters, Perkins...
N: Only the dodgy continuity is really an issue.
D: I bet that was in the deleted scenes. Why do they make the episodes so long if they have to edit them?
A: Makes you wonder what's so awful it couldn't be shown...

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