The Doctor takes Martha on one last trip before returning
her home, but everything is not as it should be... In New
York, 1930, in the midst of the Depression, people are disappearing:
the homeless, the poor, the starving and huddled masses. Savage
pig creatures hide in the sewers, while beneath the Empire
State Building, the Daleks are at work, preparing their most
audacious plan yet...
It has been pointed out to me that, in addition to the overt
theme of the Doctor (David Tennant) getting over the loss
of Rose and accepting Martha (Freema Agyeman) in her place,
and the Mr Saxon arc, the third series of the revived Doctor
Who is also peppered with allusions to the 1965 serial
The Chase. For instance, both The Chase and
and Jones feature a vampire of sorts (a robot
of Count Dracula and the Plasmavore Florence Finnegan respectively)
and introduce a new companion played by an actor (Peter Purves
and Freema Agyeman respectively) who portrayed a different
character just three episodes earlier (Morton Dill and Adeola
Oshodi respectively). Several instalments include visits to
London (not that that's unusual for Doctor Who). The
Shakespeare Code features the Bard and Queen Elizabeth
I, while 42 makes mention of the "classical musicians"
The Beatles, all of whom were depicted on the Time-Space Visualiser
in The Chase. The two-part story Daleks in Manhattan
/ Evolution of the Daleks contains the most obvious Chase
elements of all - time-travelling Daleks and the Empire State
Building - as well as a reference to Frankenstein (inert
human bodies being revived by lightning).
This two-parter also has the dubious distinction of being
quite the silliest Dalek story since The Chase, boasting
some singularly uncharacteristic Dalek dialogue and a bunch
of half-man half-pig slaves. To make matters worse, we had
a pig person just two series ago, in Aliens of London.
It's a bit too soon for the show to be repeating itself like
To cap it all, there's the human Dalek (Eric Loren). Kids
might find him scary, but to me he just looks like a bloke
with a Kaled mutant stuck on his head. The design also resembles
a monster from a previous Who story: Scaroth in City
of Death. Hmmm, makes you think, though...
maybe the human Dalek genome somehow made its way back in
time and ultimately evolved into the Jagaroth. Perhaps Scaroth
is a popular Jagaroth name, in honour of the Daleks' dead
home planet, Skaro...
this serial's fundamental flaws, the visual thrills are as
appealing as ever, including CGI mutations, aerial exterminations
and glamorous showgirls. And it's always good to see the Daleks
back in action, even under these reduced circumstances.
The Doctor finally gets Martha back home, but as the pair
say their goodbyes, they learn of a scientific demonstration
by one Professor Lazarus, who promises to change what it means
to be human. But his experiment goes wrong, resulting in a
horrific genetic mutation which embarks upon a killing spree
that only the Doctor, Martha and Martha's sister Tish can
many a classic Who story from the early Tom Baker era,
the next two episodes on this DVD shamelessly purloin ideas
from other popular fictions, mixing them up in the creative
blender to produce exciting new concoctions. The Lazarus
Experiment is a mutant hybrid of The
Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The
Quatermass Experiment. There are also dialogue
lifts from Star Wars and This is Spinal Tap.
Of course, this isn't really Martha's final adventure with
the Time Lord. Instead, he accepts her as a proper travelling
companion from this point on. With the "getting over Rose"
storyline now all but resolved (though the Doctor has yet
to give Martha her own key to the TARDIS - he does that in
the next instalment, 42), the Mr Saxon arc begins in
earnest here. The politician and paymaster of Professor Lazarus
(the wonderfully arch Mark Gatiss) is referred to several
times, and this episode paves the way towards the events of
The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords. Intriguingly,
the Doctor notes on several occasions the similarities between
the process of regeneration and Lazarus' experiments in rejuvenation.
The LazLabs logo, comprising series of circles, also bears
a resemblance to Gallifreyan symbols.
The CGI effects for the Lazarus mutation are good, though
the creature's human face is a real letdown. Like the woeful
Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, it lacks convincing
human expressions. Otherwise, this is a fine episode, if hardly
Interestingly, the programme concludes not with the "coming
soon" teaser for the rest of the episodes in this series,
as was seen at the end of the broadcast version, but with
a regular-style trailer for the next episode, which presumably
was created and was the original artistic intention before
it became clear that Doctor Who would take a break
for a week to make way for the Eurovision Song Contest.
A spaceship hurtles out of control towards an alien sun.
Cut off from the safety of the TARDIS, the Doctor and Martha
have just 42 minutes to save the crew and themselves. As the
ship's personnel start to disappear, the Doctor discovers
that they are not the only ones on board. And when Martha
calls her mother for advice, why is her parent so keen to
keep Martha on the phone...?
42 refers not to the answer to the Ultimate Question
of Life, the Universe and Everything from The
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but rather
is a play on the title of the "real time" espionage thriller
series 24. This is not Doctor Who's first foray
into real-time narrative - that would be the audio drama,
Time. Nor is it genuine real time - the countdown
elapses more rapidly than the programme's actual running time
and reaches zero before the end of the episode. Nevertheless,
it is an exciting and sufficiently innovative storytelling
device. (Resemblances to Danny Boyle's movie Sunshine,
on the other hand, are coincidental and less fortuitous.)
Chris Chibnall also raids ideas from Who's own past.
The creepy killers in their protective suits are very Ambassadors
of Death, with a hint of Pyramids
of Mars thrown in for good measure (steam rising
from a victim's shoulders). There's also a dash of Planet
of Evil, insofar as the ship and crew cannot escape their
fate until they return something a crewmember should not have
Another thing the episodes on this disc have in common with
the early Tom Baker era is the Doctor's habit of screaming
in hideous agony. As with Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars,
the Doctor finds himself unable to resist his enemy's mental
influence here. In both Evolution of the Daleks and
Human Nature (on the next DVD), the Time Lord willingly
exposes himself to a painful ordeal in order to achieve his
goal, just as he does in Terror of the Zygons. Indeed,
in both Evolution and Terror, the cause of the
Doctor's suffering is an electrical current.
The Doctor even admits to being scared - and I mean really
scared - which is rare for him, making this a particularly
strong, gritty and dark episode. Adding to the grit is a cast
of guest actors renowned for roles in less than glamorous
series: Michelle Collins (EastEnders), William Ash
(Clocking Off) and Anthony Flanagan (Shameless).
42 might be considered too strong for little kiddies
(you can tell it was written by a Torchwood writer),
but I appreciate its harder-than-usual edge.