DOCTOR WHO - Mummy on the Orient Express REVIEW - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO - Mummy on the Orient Express REVIEW

Christopher Morley starts the clock on his review of Mummy on the Orient Express.

Welcome one & all to the Technicolour magic of Cine-Who! Take your seats & do try not to rustle your jelly babies as we go looking for a Mummy On The Orient Express! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that what we're looking at here is a fusion of The Mummy & Murder On The Orient Express. All played out in the furthest reaches of space. That's right, in effect we find the Doctor doing an episode of Poirot! And just like nearly every one of the Belgian detective's screen outings, somebody's snuffed out in the first few minutes. Janet Henfrey, who of course had earlier played Mrs Hardaker in The Curse Of Fenric & been killed by Haemovores, returns for an appearance in New-Who & promptly dies again, the first victim of the Foretold ( as the mummy of the title's known).

If you're keen to spot another cameo from a Classic Who stalwart, look for Christopher Villiers too. Here he's Professor Moorhouse, another victim. You'll also have seen him as Hugh in The King's Demons alongside another Peter who happens to have held the role of the Doctor. Peter the Elder/the Fifth incarnation of the Doctor was more affable/fallible though. Pretty handy at cricket, too. But we digress!

Even Murray Gold's score seems to tip its hat to that of Murder - as composed by one Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, who once dipped his toe into similar waters as the man behind the incidental music for the First Doctor's maiden brush with romance in The Aztecs. Ah, the lovely Cameca...... it would also be foolish to ignore the fact that mummies of a sort once menaced the Fourth Doctor in Pyramids Of Mars! So we might have reason to suppose that another new writer, Jamie Mathieson, has plenty to work with here. He's got previous too, having taken his pen to episodes of Being Human. He's a funny chap, too...

Nobody's laughing when the Doctor has to break it to his fellow passengers that when they're about to pop their clogs will they see the Foretold, though- they'll only have 66 seconds of life left after clapping eyes on it as well. Bet the brochure never told them that! Handily the train has a laboratory though, so some analysis is possible if a bit difficult given that to analyse the meddlesome mummy it has to be looked at. And if you look at it you die. Quite the pickle. The whole business does at least offer the Time Lord a chance to outdo old Hercule, though. Using data on every passenger aboard the train, he sets about working who's next to shuffle off this mortal coil..

Is he a genius, or is he just being arrogant? The chief engineer, Perkins, poses the question ( portrayed by Frank Skinner, stepping ably into ' funny man' shoes of the sort last worn by Ken Dodd as the Tollmaster in Delta & The Bannermen). Well, we must surely conclude there's a touch of genius in Perkins himself, who helps the Doctor to realise how & why the Foretold's doing what it does. It's taking victims out of phase & draining their life energy! About time the Doctor got around to solving the mystery really- he'd first taken the phone call about it in his previous incarnation ( The Big Bang- remember that phone call at the end?). There's a sarcophagus/stasis chamber in the bowels of the train that just might remind you of something, too...

There's another question to be answered as well, come to think of it. Who's the real monster here? Is it the Foretold, shambling about the place, or is it the Doctor himself? You'll recall Clara was none too impressed at the end of Kill The Moon. But by the final acts of Mummy you might well wonder if we're beginning to see a shift similar to that undergone by the man he started out as. And its not just his sense of style, either- Twelve's fashion choices not unlike those of his younger self in The Gunfighters this time out. You'll remember that both started out as slightly prickly older men, but quickly mellowed given extended periods of time with their human companions. We just might be starting to see that shift happening for a second time..........

Sure, there are moments when he's still a bit of a hard-ass. But underneath all that bluster he still cares, wanting to save every last passenger aboard with just as much fervour as he could muster in his bids to return that dinosaur home from Victorian London & then thwart the Half-Faced Man into the bargain ( Deep Breath), change Rusty's mind ( Into The Dalek), stop the Sheriff in his bid to become King of England with the help of those robot knights ( Robot Of Sherwood), find the source of that recurring dream where you think you've got company at night ( Listen), rob the Bank of Karabraxos but actually as it transpires for quite a noble reason ( Time Heist), save his old Coal Hill stomping ground from the Skovox Blitzer alongside a few janitorial responsibilities, handled with both a brush & a cheery whistle ( The Caretaker) & challenge the population of a future Earth to step up to the plate & decide the future of their Moon ( Kill The Moon).

He still doesn't much care for soldiers, though. Just as he turned down Journey Blue's overtures towards a trip in the TARDIS & was openly hostile to Danny Pink before sort of warming to him he takes it upon himself to dispatch the Foretold, a bandaged-up squaddie from a future war. Complex fellow, isn't he? But at least more layers of his character are becoming apparent, & should provide ample reason ( as if you needed any) to tune in to Flatline- another Mathieson effort which should change the way people look at Banksy's art forever!

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