Saturday, 9 November 2013

Gridlock, Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks and The Lazarus Experiment


The Face of Boe.

Into the past, into the future, the far future, a hundred years or something after the events of ‘New Earth’, but we are back on New Earth the planet for this tale about cars stuck on a motorway. It doesn’t make perfect sense – the city of New New York has been in lockdown after a mood (Davies decides to tackle drugs as one of his themes) went feral and became an infection. So everyone is stuck going very slowly around and around the motorway whilst the city is in quarantine. So how can rain get through? Because when the Doctor and Martha arrive it is raining.
Thomas Kincade Brannigan - Ardal O'Hanlan.
The majority of the episode is spent going from car to car with some lovely little characters, the most memorable played by Ardal O’Hanlan who is just a wonderful actor. He could play the Doctor one day I reckon, but in this story he’s a cat, called Thomas Kincade Brannigan. He’s a wife who’s human, and in their car they have a bunch of kittens!
Down at the bottom of the motor way are… the Macra. An interesting and perhaps somewhat out of the
The Macra lurk at the bottom of the expressway. CGI Macra
blue as a returning monsters, not that they play much of a role in the story, as in the second Doctor tale they live off the fumes, but apart from snatching the odd car they are pretty quiet. The Face of Boe reveals to the Doctor ‘You are not alone’, before dying. Who is the Face of Boe? Maybe it’s not important, or maybe we will find out in a later episode. A nice creation. The final piece of the story is this beautiful hymn that the motorists sing from time to time. It’s quite moving although strangely there appears to be a bit of a backing track at times.
Heading towards the light.
The story has its limitations. One – the CGI is very very clearly CGI. The time and money required to make it look more real I guess just wasn’t available so that’s a little disappointing. And the fact that for 12 years or more people have been stuck on the motorway without doing anything is a little hard to swallow. But it’s a pretty good one all up.

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks

Miranda Raison as Tallulah - three ls and an h.

I know this story is not well liked, and after viewing it, it’s not hard to see why. It’s clunky, it features bad accents and bad acting, the concept is all a bit weak, and it’s more concerned with where the story is set that anything else.
I don’t know how this story came about or evolved, but I can only presume Russel T Davies came to the writer Jacqueline Raynor asking for a story set in New York City, or perhaps the brief was even more exact – NYC during the depression with Daleks. I don’t know exactly. Some writers work well to a brief, others don’t. Maybe that’s an issue here, maybe it was too constrained for Raynor I just don’t know.
Quite a view.

The Daleks find themselves underneath New York City in the depression, and are anxious to get the Empire State Building finished early so that a lightning strike mixed with solar flare activity will give them the energy they need to bring a whole bunch of new ‘human’ Daleks to life. The Doctor’s DNA mixes it all up though and the human Daleks destroy two of the real Daleks, who have already killed Dalek Sek, leaving one Daleks to scream ‘Emergency Temporal Shift’ and disappear – exactly how these four Daleks (the Cult of Skaro) escaped their previous misadventure.
Dalek Sek combines with Mr Diagorous to make... this.
They have pig slaves. They have turned people into part-pigs to serve them. WHY? WHY OH WHY? It’s pointless and certainly adds nothing to the plot. Two of the main characters are hard to deal with as an audience. Miranda Raison is Tallulah, with three ls and an h as she tells everyone she introduces herself too. She’s the star of a revue at a theatre not too far from the Daleks’ base of operations. Just because the character’s a stage star though shouldn’t mean that all her lines are written like they are part of a musical. It’s terribly clichéd stuff ‘Hands in the air and no funny business!’. Oh dear dear dear. And the accent is very much a ‘stage’ New York accent. The sort of thing you hear if you go to London’s West End and watch a British production of an American musical.
And pig slaves. Every story needs em, right?
But she’s not a patch on Mr Diagorus, as if that’s even a real name. Actually, before he mingles with Dalek Sek he’s fine, but after they become one, apart from looking ridiculous, it becomes one of the worst acted parts in Doctor Who history. Ok, he was given a seriously tough job, but it’s honestly dreadful. I am sorry. But it’s pure pain watching that character.
Actually, much of the two parts are seriously painful.

The Lazarus Experiment

Professor Lazarus (Gatiss) Before the process.

And after, talking to the Doctor and Martha.
Unfortunately it doesn’t get better. ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ shows that just because you’ve only got 45 minutes doesn’t mean you need one idea and see if you can stretch it to make a successful episode. The name is misleading, although Lazarus does appear to come back from the dead at one point, but I would have thought bringing the dead back to life was the point of the episode, yet it is all about turning back time to make the young look old.

And the guy’s name is Lazarus?
And then he changes a bit more again.
Please. There is some nice stuff with Martha’s family – we are back in a modern day setting so that’s nice. And her mother is warned about the Doctor, and this has come from Mr Saxon, a name we might have heard a couple of times so far, but now it seems Mr Saxon could be a significant character leading up to the finale. We will wait and see I guess.
It’s all very icky this episode – Mark Gatiss plays Lazarus, who is rejuvenated back to a young man (he
Most of the Jones' family.
starts off as an old man). The aged make-up sadly is rather obviously. Not bad per se, but obvious. He turns into a feral monster which really is not the best work the production team have done thus far, the face doesn’t look like Gatiss (although it might actually be him) and it’s all clearly CGI. Very quickly the story is about hunting down the monster and killing it and little else. And like ‘Timelash’ it appears to be resolved too quickly so they brought the thing back to life for another fifteen minutes of fun.
Worse still is the fact that Lazarus is a creepy old pervert. Really it’s dreadful.


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