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by Mister Hex (foreverguardian)
at May 21st, 2007 (07:33 pm)

By Andrew Hawnt

Experiments don't always work. Sometimes they present some fine results, and sometimes they cause catastrophes. Putting Doctor Who into an almost realtime setting was an unusual idea and upon initially hearing about it, rather an exciting one.

There have been arguements in fandom ever since it was announced that the show would return in a 45 minute format instead of the traditional 25 minutes. Granted the 45 minute format had been tried in the classic series' past but it didn't work out that great or last for very long. For the most part the new era of Doctor Who has handled the 45 minutes very well indeed, but some limitations do occasionally show up.

One thing that is noticeable is that two parters are often unevenly balanced, with a slow first half and an overtly busy second half. Granted this gives ample room for characterization and plot dynamics but it does make for the odd slightly dull episode. The single episode tales have generally been of an excellent standard but now and again we are offered a 45 minutes so crammed with action and movement that it leaves little room for characters to gel or the plot to make much sense.

But only occasionally. The stories are largely well told in the 45 minute format, but I do now and again long for the days of four and six part stories, which you could really get your teeth...erm... eyes into. Now we either have RUSHRUSHRUSHENDING or a case of plodding for an episode and hurtling along for the next. The balance, delicate as it is, needs to be struck, and while the basic premise of 42 (and boy is it basic) is sound, the execution leaves a great deal to be desired...

I guess each season will have an episode I loathe to some extent. Season one it was BoomTown, season two it was Fear Her, and this year it appears to be 42.

On the upside, we still have the delights of Human Nature, The Family of Blood, Blink, Utopia, The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords to look forward to.

Well, it had to happen at some point this series didn't it? Maybe we've just been spoiled with the other episodes, but this week, after the two week wait thanks to (the Eurovision song contest), there are a fair few fans out there who feel let down. At its best, Doctor Who can provide the most original science fiction entertainment on the planet, but occasionally the makers will forget that the show has a unique premise to exploit, and will instead just cobble together any old rubbish from a bag of SF cliches.

Sadly that has been the case this week, with a sorry excuse for an episode in the shape of '42'.

Despite the fantastic trailers and the sense of anticipation, 42 turned out to be nigh on 45 minutes of badly assembled nonsense. Here's hoping its just a blip of woe in an otherwise excellent series. Sporting a script ripped off from half a dozen dodgy SF films (most notably the recent movie SUNSHINE), an unremarkable guest cast (apart from Michelle Collins, who was surprisingly good), some horribly convoluted plot points and a plethora of reused sets and costumes (take a look! I'm sure I saw reused sets from the Girl in The Fireplace, The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, plus the Doctor wears the actual spacesuit he wore in The Satan Pit!).

The direction, while suitably breathless, felt far too much like an episode of Red Dwarf to make decent drama.

Redeeming features? A decent performance from Tennant (especially the chilling possession), the gorgeous scene in which the escape pod separates and leaves the ship (played in ominous silence), some excellent CG effects and Murray Gold's epic music.

The most intriguing part of the story is the closing minutes, in which we are privy to Martha's call to her mother, which is being observed by agents of Mister Saxon. I do like Martha's family members when they show up- they do feel like an actual family, which seemed a bit forced with the Tylers.

Here's looking forward to the next episode, and the delights of Human Nature

How does the next episode look?

On the run from vicious aliens, the Doctor transforms himself into a human and hides as a schoolteacher in 1913, but who are the mysterious Family of Blood/ The first episode of the show to adapt one of the 'New adventures' Doctor Who novels from the 90's, this looks like a fascinating episode indeed...

Doctor Who is shown on BBC1 each Saturday, and repeated each Sunday and Friday on BBC3

The official online teaser for 'HUMAN NATURE':