Doctor Who: THE MAZE OF DOOM Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE MAZE OF DOOM Review

Chris Morley gets lost in the Maze of Doom!

Where Series 11 of the once more rejigged Doctor Who gave Malorie Blackman the chance to step from page to screen in penning Rosa, perhaps Chris Chibnall should give David Solomons a call should he ever decide to stop taking it all so seriously & go back to the good old fashioned “monster of the week” days

Solomon's The Maze Of Doom, his second contribution to the world of Doctor Who after 2018s The Secret In Vault 13, has plenty of call backs to the Tom Baker years. The action starting after a strange fragment is found in the pockets of a fondly remembered old coat. The quest to discover exactly what it's for & who created it leads back to the beginning of the end for the man who wore it.

For his next trick, the author has provided a sort of sequel to The Horns Of Nimon. But where chunks of the earlier Secret In Vault 13 felt as though Solomons had simply given Baker a woman's hand to go with the rest of the latest incarnation of the Doctor's body, it would seem he's now actually found some time to study Jodie Whittaker's performance & throw some of it into what might otherwise have felt like a melting pot of the tail end of Jon Pertwee and beginning of seven years aboard a certain blue ghost monument for its longest-serving erstwhile captain.

Strange creatures roam the London Underground, and there are echoes of the Thirteenth Doctor's arrival aboard that train in Sheffield in the chase to track down a foe not seen since the Fourth surmised he might be about to go the way of the humble cricket ball during their last tussle......
DOCTOR: We're up a gum tree without a paddle.
K9: Define gum tree.
DOCTOR: Well, it's a tree that gives gum.
K9: Explain use of paddle in gum tree.
DOCTOR: You wouldn't understand, K9.
K9: Affirmative.
And indeed it would seem his latest successor is similarly encumbered, a shard of the mysterious fragment becoming embedded in Ryan and causing him to act rather strangely- a fate which also befell the Ancient Greek soldier Talos back in his own day after being similarly exposed.

The Nimon are of course based on the Minotaur of that particular period of history, or at least its mythology, which fascinates the fabulously wealthy Panos Polichroniadis in spite of the fact he too has been affected by a similar piece of what the Doctor deduces is Nimon technology. Panos chucking money about in a bid to find a cure for the almost fatally overwhelming heat coursing through his body, and his emergence from what his sister calls a Daedalus Box possibly deliberately echoing the similar tech used by Sutekh circa Pyramids of Mars. All dressed up under a sort of extreme clean energy scheme - namely drawing it from the future and sending it to what for him & those taken in by his grandiose claims is the present.

The Doctor then takes Yaz to see the grim effect on that future in a far less foreboding echo of a similar trip with Sarah Jane for company. Not that the stakes are any lower, of course! No reminder needed that she's a Time Lord, walks in eternity, blah blah blah. Not when the Earth is an overgrown wasteland and there's a plan to be worked out to stop that happening and get Ryan back to his old self, while putting a considerable spanner in the Nimon's own ambitions towards quite literally gaining power. Though there is an admission of guilt on her part at how their last meeting ended. Sending them back the way they came.

The newest examples of the species in Solomons' novel come with a rather pseudo-cybernetic twist in that the bullish exterior is a sort of suit designed to harness the fire inside the wearer and prevent them overheating, also granting almost superhuman strength, perfect myth fodder. Not that the man who first discovers the crashed Nimon spaceship believes in such stuff. Daedalus is eager to explore in the name of science, blissfully unaware of the subsequent consequences of his tinkering and indeed creation of the first robo-Nimon, the aforementioned Talos, of the royal guard attached to King Minos. Talos is soon put to work repairing the crashed ship ready for another flight, which ends rather finally in the far future as the culmination of the Doctor's efforts to understand and then combat the programming of this latest upgrade for the chaps with the horns.

The labyrinthine set-up of the ship itself becomes the perfect metaphor for what is a frequently wibbly wobbly and indeed timey-wimey plot, delivered with plenty of zip & wit as Solomons tries to position himself as a younger reader's answer to Graham Williams and/or Douglas Adams, which he's mostly successful in so doing.

In retrospect Series Eleven could have benefited from similar maybe somewhere in the middle, though whether Chibnall could have resisted the temptation to bung himself a co-writer's credit given his own previous brush with reintroducing & indeed redesigning old enemies is now a moot point.

Chibs himself would appear to have been cribbed off for the big finale given the parallels between the eventual fates of both Panos here & Ko Sharmus in Series Twelve's ending, and indeed the Doctor apparently willing to consider another regeneration before slinking off to the TARDIS & letting someone else do the work of saving the universe, any trace of Nimon influence literally gone in the blink of an eye just as it was way back when.
ROMANA: Doctor?
DOCTOR: Crinoth.
ROMANA: And the end of the Nimons.
DOCTOR: Good job, too.
The open ending of The Maze Of Doom sees the Doctor taking her “fam” back to the relative safety of the blue box she'd once fondly dubbed “old girl”, suggesting there could be more such good jobs to be done with the quip “quite a few millennia left in you yet”. Good news for the interested younger reader on this evidence.

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