Doctor Who XXXIV(8).8: Mummy on the Orient Express

MummyontheOrientExpressBusy with other things so again can’t manage a full review… but this was rather good. On one of the panels in which I partook at the last Nine Worlds, Laurie Penny said something along the lines that Steven Moffat writes both Sherlock and Doctor Who as addiction dramas. Mummy on the Orient Express made this explicit and provided another gloss on the Doctor’s reluctance to go back and see his old companions as expressed in The Sarah Jane Adventures: Death of the Doctor. The Doctor can’t go round for dinner because he would be returning to his drug; Clara can’t yet face this. Our travellers go off in varying levels of denial; Perkins (a deliberate echo of The Railway Children‘s Perks, surely, with Frank Skinner giving a performance with some echoes of Cribbins, and Perks was a man who knew more than he could explain to the young protagonists) can see what the Doctor’s life can do because he himself is someone with the maturity to know what life experience can do and someone who is comfortable with his identity in a way which the Doctor never can be. There was a lovely casting joke: anyone watching British television over the last fifty years could easily believe that Janet Henfrey must be well over a hundred by now. Lance Parkin observed at Facebook that Foxes’ rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, as released in advance on YouTube, was a spoiler of sorts, and he certainly had more than a point.

ETA: The motifs of the season were there too – soldiers, robots who are not quite robots but not yet/no longer quite people, deaths which are not perhaps deaths. Danny is left waiting and out of phase with Clara, rather like the mummy; and Doctor Who emphasises further its scepticism about the lifestyle of the Doctor and Clara. Once the companions wanted to go home, whereas nowadays at some level the viewer is encouraged to think that they should want to.

I’ve also been considering names. Seb, Chris Addison’s character, may be named after St Sebastian, one of the patron saints of soldiers; is Gus named after St Augustine of Hippo? I know little of him bar that most of his thought I’ve come across seems commonsensical in a way which suggests how far his theology is deeply embedded in western thought whether consciously religious or not; but I see from Wikipedia that he was deeply interested in the relationship of the body and the soul, and that the soul must respect the body. There have been a number of destroyed or refashioned bodies in this series of Doctor Who, no more than usual perhaps, but attention has been drawn to the Half-Face Man, the Sheriff, and all those people who have been killed only to turn up in Missy’s realm.

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Posted on 11 October 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I really enjoyed this episode. Good straightforward fun done well, supporting characters drawn swiftly and effectively, well-paced and put together. A million times better than last week, which simply dragged.

    I love that poster – where is it from?

    • The poster is from the online Radio Times, designed by Stuart Manning, who is doing a new poster each week reflecting the genres on which the episode draws.

      Reaction to this episode has been very positive and seems to have taken the previewers by surprise, most of whom took the ‘not as good as last week’ line.

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