The latest episode of “Doctor Who”, “The Lazarus Experiment”, seemed to take its ideas from just about every horror film ever made so, not surprisingly, failed to come up with anything new! Everybody was dressed very smartly, no doubt reusing the tuxedos from last year’s “Rise of the Cybermen” as well as the Sycorax’s big red button from “The Christmas Invasion”, but it couldn’t disguise the derivative nature of the story. David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly” starring Jeff Goldblum; “The Quatermass Experiment”; one of the films chosen in my previous post, “Lifeforce”; the conclusion of Tim Burton’s take on “Batman” which itself referenced Charles Laughton in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”; these were just a few of the sources from which “The Lazarus Experiment” borrowed. It even plagiarised “Doctor Who” itself for its resolution! As recently as “The Runaway Bride”, in fact, amplified sound has been used to defeat an enemy. But before overcoming Santas last Christmas, the Doctor, in his second incarnation, defeated seaweed creatures through amplifying companion Victoria’s scream in “Fury from the Deep”!
“Fury from the Deep” happens to be my all-time favourite “Doctor Who” story but it has a lot to answer for! It was the tale which introduced the sonic screwdriver but in Victor Pemberton’s story was actually used to sonically undo the screws of a gas pipeline, believe it or not, and wasn’t the multi-multi-purpose gadget it has become in new “Who”. I’ve never been keen on K-9’s use as a cure-all in the latter Tom Baker seasons but I don’t recall the computer dog ever being as overused as the sonic screwdriver is now. I recommend rewatching “Gridlock” in order to count the number of times the Doctor gets it out and puts it away when moving between vehicles! Then there’s the psychic paper, used again last week in “Evolution of the Daleks”, which is another gimmick too far. Ever heard of getting into a building using a fake pass, a much more plausible method of achieving the same result in a story? But, when the Doctor whipped out his sonic thingy in the confined space of the Professor’s machine, this week, and Martha asked him what he was going to do with it, I was ready with a few suggestions!
I believe Russell achieved another first with “Lazarus”, too, but I may be wrong. Has the Doctor ever had sisters as companions for a story before, I wonder? He could go one further and try twins next! How about the Cheeky Girls? They have experience, so to speak, in the pop world to commend them, just like our very own Lil Bill, so they must be good!! Anyway, it was strange how, in “Smith and Jones”, Tish didn’t even mention her new job to Martha and yet they are supposed to be really close! And, also in the girls’ debut story, how did Tish manage to get so much time off work to go visit her sister at the hospital, then spend the evening celebrating brother Leo’s birthday, when just twelve hours later, as specifically mentioned in the current story, she is supposed to be organising Richard Lazarus’s demonstration!!! Can’t they even get continuity right within a single season? And, finally, to add insult to injury, the possibility of the Doctor one day meeting Beethoven was discarded with a cheap throwaway line when there is a really good story waiting to be written about the pair of them!