Sunday, 12 October 2014

Review: Doctor Who - Mummy on the Orient Express

Mummy! The Doctor's holiday turns into a horror when something goes a-murdering on the Orient Express...


'I'm the Doctor and I will be your victim this evening. Are you my mummy?'

Doctor Who has cultivated a new type of story for itself in recent years. Rather than just historical stories, contemporary adventures and proper sci-fi dramas set in the future, there is now the historical-in-space. In the past we've had the Titanic ... in space! Dickensian London... in space! This week, the show gave us, you've guessed it, the Orient Express ... in space! And, something else you already guessed, on board is a rather ancient and unwanted passenger...

As this was an episode premise I was very much looking forward to I'm glad to say it was a very enjoyable adventure. We have a gaggle of guest characters with their own secrets but other than that, 'Mummy on the Orient Express' wisely does not lay on the Agatha Christie allusions (something already done brilliantly in 'The Unicorn and the Wasp') and largely plays its absurd plot straight, meaning that we just accept the bonkers juxtaposition of a classic horror creature and the period glitz and glamour. In fact, a word (or a few words. Oh, what the heck, a whole sentence) must be given to the set and costume designs here as the famous train looked wonderful in its 1920s d├ęcor and the Mummy, along with its chilling conceit, really was quite a visceral creation for Doctor Who. It is sure to give children tears before bedtime (that is if they're even still awake - for British viewers, the show is being shown increasingly late in the evening, something I'm not too sure of). 

Due to the lack of the Doctor's companion in promotional material, I assumed the Orient Express was going to be a Clara-lite ride but in the end Jenna Coleman (looking glorious in full flapper garb) had an important decision to make this episode and it was lovely to see the Doctor's kinder side leaking out again as he tries not to annoy his friend. Frank Skinner is also likeable as engineer Perkins but with the amount of screen time he shares with the Doctor the role does smack a little of  'celebrity guest star of the week.' So much was made of him, in fact, that I was a convinced that he would either turn out to be the culprit or an agent of Missy. Well, it still could happen.

Overall, featuring an entertaining script from newcomer Jamie Mathieson and great visuals (the clock counting down in the corner of the screen is a nifty, almost Sherlockian, device), the episode's lighter touch is a welcome change from 'Kill the Moon' although particular moments of happiness here do somewhat undercut the drama of that episode. Still, it seems a trifle unfair to complain about such things as, on an insular level (there was no appearance of the Promised Land this week), this episode invited us on board and took us on surely the most solid, classic and classy adventure this series. If you have a counter-argument, I'd like to hear it. You've got 66 seconds...

Is there a Doctor on board? - The Time Lord has to solve the mystery of the mummy murders...

Next week: Separated from the Doctor, Clara must face an alien menace from another dimension in 'Flatline' on BBC One at 8.30pm.

1 comment:

  1. This week, the show gave us, you've guessed it, the Orient Express ... okostueme.blogspot.de

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