TV in Review: Doctor Who, “42″
June 13, 2012 7 Comments
So the premise of “42″ is clever. We learn quite quickly that the characters have 42 minutes before crashing into the sun, which means that we’re in for a “real time” episode in a series known for breaking the rules of time. Of course, you can’t break the rules of network time, as those may be stronger than the laws of physics. 42 minutes it is, with some good old-fashioned sci-fi. Look! Spaceships!
For me, “42″ was similar in effect to the last episode, “The Lazarus Experiment,” in that both of them were fairly straight-forward and satisfying stories. Nothing overly remarkable, but nothing cringe-worthy, either.
It’s full of high-adrenaline action, as they have to get through a succession of doors answering questions as if this were a really high stakes SAT. No, wait, it’s pub quiz time! (Every Tuesday night at The Rose and Crown in Palo Alto.)
The Doctor is going to engage in banter whether it’s a more tender scene or if he’s having to run down corridors at full speed. Here, he uses optimism as a means for taking control of the situation and getting the group organized.
ORIN SCANNELL: Nothing’s any use. We’ve got no engines, no time, and no chance.
DOCTOR WHO: Oh, listen to you! Defeated before you’ve even started! Where’s your Dunkirk spirit?
That’s right, we already know that this Time Lord is an anglophile. It always comes down to The Beatles and Dunkirk, although Elvis does win the battle of the number ones.
The Doctor gets to act like a doctor, although that isn’t always fun as it can mean having to break bad news to family members.
KATH: Is the infection permanent? Can you cure it?
The mystery that layers over the action and keeps us engaged is the story of why the disease ever arrived in the first place. Scooping out the heart of a sun is a potent image, and allows for a moral at the end of the story.
POSSESSED-BY-THE-SUN DOCTOR: Humans! You grab whatever’s nearest and bleed it dry!
There were even a few clever references to sci-films. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) makes an appearance when the pod is jettisoned and the constant soundtrack subsides for a few seconds of silence.
And they borrow from Frankenstein (1931) as well…
DOCTOR WHO: It’s alive. It’s alive. It’s alive!
Has the Doctor ever actually run into Doctor Frankenstein in his travels? Or Mary Shelley, at least? That could be fun…
So yeah, I had fun with this one. It was mostly self-contained, although Martha’s mom seems to be involved with the wrong crowd, which is exactly what she thinks of Martha. Parents, what are you going to do?
The BBC first aired Season 3, Episode 7 of Doctor Who on May 19, 2007.
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