“To our last hurrah”
Written by Jeffrey Zyra
When I saw that Doctor Who was going to do a story called Mummy on the Orient Express it had me worried. Being a fan of Agatha Christie’s novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ I had reservations that it would be stupid and be a cheap knock off of the Christie novel. When I saw the trailer and saw that it was in space and the premise of whoever sees the mummy has 66 seconds to live well I was a bit more interested than worried.
Mummy on the Orient Express reminded me of a Tom Baker story written by Robert Holmes. Except that Robert Holmes would have given us a better ending. I don’t mean the way he defeated the enemy but the fact that we didn’t learn who Gus is? Unless I missed something it would have been good to see The Doctor confront Gus and bring him to justice. That really is my only fault that and keeping Clara locked in a storage car for half the episode. But those are all minor tit for tats.
Back to the Robert Holmes and Tom Baker style of story it did have that feel. In fact Peter Capaldi seemed to be channeling Tom Baker in this story. Not the goofy Tom Baker from the Graham Williams era but the serious and slightly aloof Tom Baker from the Philip Hinchcliffe era. In fact this had more of a feel of that era than last week’s story Kill the Moon. Right down to the Jelly Babies in the cigarette tin this story was just channeling that era of Doctor Who. This made me a happy camper as I really love that era of Doctor Who and I am glad they are going in that direction with the stories.
I did enjoy this story as it was different and had a pretty cool looking monster in the mummy. I really enjoyed the concept of the 66 seconds left to live when you see the mummy and thought it was explained pretty well. I thought it was clever that the mummy turned out to be a soldier who was trying to die but was continuing to fight the war he was from. The way the Doctor figured it out by using his brain was pretty good also and I’m glad that is back in Doctor Who instead of zapping it with his screwdriver. The way The Doctor theorized what it was and then figured out what to say to make the mummy stop was really good and was the high point of the story.
The nature of The Doctor is becoming clear that he is a man that will make the tough and hard decisions even if it is not a popular one. Like asking the poor victims what they see with the time they have left while not having a care or sympathy for those who died is pretty cold but you can see why he did it as he was trying to save more than the few that he more or less sacrificed because he could not help them. It is strange seeing The Doctor helpless but at the same time you can see the frustration in him because he cannot save them. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor seems the most alien and Mummy on the Orient Express really brings that out in a more prominent way than the other stories in series 8.
I really enjoyed the character of Perkins. I liked him so much that it was a shame that he is not a companion of The Doctor. There was good chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Frank Skinner that it was a shame not to have him travel with The Doctor. Perkins even questioned The Doctor’s tactics just like a companion and it also helped bring out the alienist more in The Doctor.
While Mummy on the Orient Express is not the greatest story this season it was very entertaining and did resemble a Hinchcliffe and Holmes style of story and that made this reviewer pretty happy. Hope they have more stories this clever that brings about the scares and has a really good solution to the problem.
Grade B +