Monday, August 4, 2014

The Lazarus Experiment - "Really shouldn't take that long just to reverse the polarity. I must be a bit out of practice."

The Lazarus Experiment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 3, Story 6 (Overall Series Story #187)

Mark Gatiss does acting*
Image via Doctor Who TV
Are there another three consecutive episodes, since the new series started, as lame as the stretch capped off here by "The Lazarus Experiment"? (I think some would go an episode further and say "42" completes the superfecta of weakness, but I actually rather like "42.") "Love & Monsters" and "Fear Her" are bookend by sold stories; Series 6 doesn't do much for me on the whole, but even though it has two-in-a-row clunkers, I think "The Doctor's Wife," "A Good Man Goes to War," and "The God Complex" each prevent a run from forming.

To some extent, the less said about this story the better. But, at the risk of going off on a rant, I'll mention a just three of the things I like least about this story. It's not all that wrong with, but an inclusive list is unnecessary because its problems are so well documented elsewhere.

Right out of the gate, Ten being such an ass to Martha has gotten tired and old -- it was tired and old back in "The Shakespeare Code," so for it still to be a thing at this point in the series is pushing it. Nobody's a fan of Martha's unrequited feelings for the Doctor, but dropping Martha off as if she's done traveling with him and dematerialising is a jerk move, and I'm not sure coming back a moment later makes it any better.

Mark Gatiss is a mixed back when it comes to his overall contributions to DW. I'm quite fond of "The Unquiet Dead,"  a little less so of  "Cold War," and enjoyed "Adventures in Time and Space" -- although the Matt Smith cameo in the last of those was regrettable, if well-intentioned. The rest of his work, not the least his portrayal of Prof. Lazarus here, leaves me cold.

The unforgivable thing with this story though is how the cocktail party guests at the big unveiling clap politely and go back to nattering as if they hadn't just seen an old man rejuvenated ... and all nearly been blown up in the process. "Yes, he appears fifty years younger and nearly killed us all, but have you seen the boy with the crostini?" These British elites take their Keep Calm and Carry On very seriously, one gathers.

Is there anything to like about this episode? Sure, there's the geek service:
TISH: He's a science geek. I should have known. Got to get back to work now. I'll catch up with you later.
DOCTOR: Science geek? What does that mean?
MARTHA: That your obsessively enthusiastic about it.
DOCTOR: Oh, nice. 
So, that's reassuring. The quip about taking too long to reverse the polarity worked for me as well.

The reference to Eliot's "The Hollow Men" feels a bit forced; however, if you told me before first watch only the plot outline and that there'd be an allusion to a famous poem, I'd have said the lazy writer's reference would be to Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night," so I won't let my own failure to recall "The Hollow Men," before Lazarus mentioned Eliot sour me on moment. These sorts of things go over better when they aren't trotted out as opportunities for a character earn kudos for being well-read, but well-read heroes are a good thing.


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