Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dr Who Series Eight: Episode 8 — Mummy On The Orient Express

11th October, 2014.

Oh, now HANG on … !

I think I’ve just seen Peter Capaldi’s first episode as the Twelfth Doctor!

Hubba … hubba … HUBBA … !

Ahem … !

I’m burbling, aren’t I … ?

To the point of burbling enthusiastically … !

I better start telling you why, hadn’t I … ?


If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll realise many things.

Possibly more than I’m comfortable about you realising you’ve worked out.   That’s one of the costs of writing any kind of public document like a blog: we probably give away more about ourselves than we think.

At ANY rate … !

At any rate, you’ve probably worked out I like asking tons of pointless questions, that I like Terry Pratchett … 

And that I’m a fan of the British TV show, Dr Who.

You’d’ve equally worked out I’ve been watching the revived show since it first aired, back in 2005.   Including — to be a touch more specific — the eighth episode of series eight.

Tonight’s episode, in fact.

The episode called Mummy On The Orient Express … 

Wowsa … 


Written by Jamie Mathieson and directed by Paul Wilmshurst, Mummy On The Orient Express sees the Doctor taking Clara for A Last Hurrah — as, after last week’s episode she’s provisionally decided to Give up life in the TARDIS — on the space going version of The Orient Express.

What they don’t know?

What they don’t know is that one passenger has died before they get there.

Something that the Doctor — with a little help from Chief Engineer Perkins, played by Frank Skinner, and Professor Moorhouse (Christopher Villiers)  — realised is an ancient Mummy-like creature called the Foretold.

The catch … ?

Is that they can’t initially work out how it’s killing people.

Or why, come to that matter.

All they can tell is that the Foretold can only be seen by the people it’s going to kill.

And that once its victim has seen it … ?

They have sixty-six seconds until they die … 


Now … 

Impressed … ?


It’s another cracker, along the lines of last week’s episode, Kill The Moon.

But Mummy On The Orient Express does feel rather different: and I think — in part — I know why.

For starters … ?   Mostly, new Dr Who has focused — not unwisely, I think — on the companions.

The show has been their story: from Rose, Martha, Donna, Mickey, all the way through to Clara herself, the series has generally focused on them.

Clara — obviously — ever since she joined.

Tonight’s episode, though, felt as though it focused not exclusively on Clara: but on her relationship with the Doctor.

A Doctor who — by now — realised Clara wants out: and is slowly coming to terms with the idea.

And getting used to the fact she’ll be off, however he may feel about it.


There’s something else, as well.

Mummy On The Orient Express also felt comfortably both very New Who — if you’ll forgive the term — but also very old Who.

The very old who I’m thinking of … ?   Is the late Robert Holmes, known for some of the series darker moments in the Tom Bakers years: things like Talons of Weng Chiang and The Deadly Assassin.

Like Mummy On The Orient Express they homaged earlier stories: And Then There Were None, in the case of MummyThe Deadly Assassin nodding at The Manchurian Candidate and Talons of Weng Chiang arguably referencing everything from Sherlock Holmes, to Fu Manchu, to The Phantom Of The Opera, to Music Hall, to … 

Well, probably quite a lot, if you’re prepared to dig.

My point is … ?

My point is this.

I don’t know how younger viewers will take to Mummy On The Orient Express: I really don’t.

As an older fan, though?

As an older fan of the show, I’m glad to have seen Mummy On The Orient Express.

I think I can get out quite a bit from the two viewings I’ve had.

After all, I want to know why Gus — the Orient Express’s onboard computer system — would have orders to ‘reverse engineer’ things from any research into the Foretold.

I want to know what — if anything — that has to do with the Nethersphere* story arc.

I want to know what the artefact the Foretold† was guarding actually said: I don’t actually read Cuneiform.

But I fully expect to get more with each viewing of this episode: both as an individual episode, and as part of the Series 8 arc.

If the rest of the Series eight is like this?

I fully expect to be enjoying it.

*        This seems a relevant point to mention, here: I’m aware there ’s been all sorts of speculation about Missy: the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere character that’s been cropping up.   The one thing that occurred to me … ?   Is that the Nethersphere could well be all sorts of things.   What struck me was that it could well be a corrupted version of the Matrix: originally introduced in The Deadly Assassin, and said to be capable — in that story — of storing the memories of dead and dying timelords.   It certainly struck me that that seems to be what the Nethersphere is doing.   There’s something else that occurred to me, just now: whilst briefly flicking through this piece.   The Doctor has spoken of mistakes he’s made.   What if one of them is something that goes wrong, after Ms Oswald closes those doors for the last time.   What if Missy is Clara … ?   I don’t know: we get hints she and Danny have healthy descendants, after all.   We’ll have to wait and see …

†        There’s also that time limit, before the Foretold kills: 66 seconds.   Professor Moorhouse quotes the rhyme:

The Number of evil, twice over
They that bear
The foretold’s stare
Have sixty-six seconds to live.

I have a feeling the number thirty three will be important … 

1 comment:

Nik Nak said...

There’s something ELSE I didn’t mention: and should have, I think.

I said — in this — that Mummy Om The Orient Express, felt like Capaldi’s first episode.

Yes: I thin k I do mean that.

I know one of two of the scripts used in series 8 — Kill The Moon’s the obvious one — had been written for Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor.

Indeed, I think some scenes are very reminiscent of him.

However, I think Mummy On The Orient Express — and Inside The Dalek — sees Peter Capaldi’s version of the Doctor settling down.

That’s why I say Mummy On The Orient Express is Capaldi’s first. He’s finally worked out how he’s playing the role …