Review: Doctor Who S3.6

After two weeks of terror, Who gets good again. And Mark Gatiss is responsible? All is not right with the world

Doctor Who likes nibbles

Damn you, Who! After the past two weeks, I was all prepared to spend the rest of the series slagging you off for navel-gazing sci-fi twaddle and po-faced lecturing. So what do you go and do? Take my least-favourite Who-man – Mark Idiot Bloody Lantern Gatiss – and turn him into a sympathetic yet monstrous, well, monster. And it even had decent CGI. You know, Who, sometimes it’s the waiting to find out what you’ll be like that’s the worst thing of all.

Yes, Gatiss is Lazarus, a scientist who has discovered how to reverse the ageing process by enlarging your DNA, or something similar that said ‘DNA’ a lot. Having made himself young and despatching of his partner – the second Dinnerlady this series, and counting – he proceeded to munch his way through one other party attendee before galloping after the Doctor, failing to notice there’s less meat on the fellow than in the average school burger.

Interestingly, did anyone notice that the Doctor ran from him through what were supposed to be hi-tech laboratories, but was obviously filmed in a school science lab? Celebrity editor Nadine Baggott was right, you don’t need to pay celebrity prices to look young – just head down your local comp with a couple of test tubes.

The episode also gave plenty of screen time to Martha Jones’ family. Happily, her father has been shoved out the nearest door (or, more hopefully, put in the cupboard with Helen Raynor). Her mother, Shouty Nurse-Woman from Casualty, is good at shouting, as her name would suggest. And even though Martha spent a fair bit of time gushing with sister Tish about how wonderful the Doctor is, which is unfortunately de rigeur these days, it seems like a largely alright family unit.

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What was best about this episode, though, was the right balance between talk and action, or yap and zap, if you will. After escaping into Southwark Cathedral at the point that rubbish episodes normally finish up, we get the Doctor talking in an actual conversation, not a yelled lecture, with a very human enemy.

Discussing the point of living longer, it carefully skirted around duller but more likely issues that such technology would really throw up, such as demographic problems, and just focused on one relatable theme (without meaning to sound like a broken record, Raynor Raynor Raynor. LEARN, WOMAN). Then just to balance it off we still got a good old chase up a bell tower. In short: yap, zap, hurrah. Although if they could put Mark Gatiss in more clothes in future, I don’t think anyone would complain.

Most exciting of all, the trailer at the episode’s close showed us what to expect in the rest of the series. No surprises, but hee hee hee, doesn’t it look great? Oh, Doctor Who, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.