The Lazarus Experiment
Professor Richard Lazarus: I find that nothing’s ever exactly like you expect. There’s always something to surprise you. “Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act”—
The Doctor: “Falls the shadow”.
Production Code: 3.6.
Doctor Who Season: S29 (Ep6).
Story Number: 183.
I enjoyed this. Very trad, very Classic…
There was not much plot to it (a scientist unleashes a monster, which must be stopped) but the enjoyable aspects were more to do with the atmosphere created, the production design, the characters and the performances. Any of the two-handed scenes featuring Lazarus-the-man, the well-written scenes with Lazarus verbally sparring with the Doctor – these were the heart of the episode.
Gatiss managed to bring a believable depth to the villain while at the same time revelling in bringing a sinister theatrical undercurrent (like Morgus or Sharaz Jek in The Caves of Androzani.) The pitch of his performance was just right.
This was the most Classic in style of the 2007 season so far. (And the Doctor literally pulling out all the stops on the cathedral organ brought to mind the Davison era graphic novel The Tides of Time.) It did have contain some very Nu-Who moments though: the considering of the consequences of being a companion of the Doctor; the featuring of the reactions of the family of the companion. Freema Agyeman continues to shine as Martha Jones.
In a contrast of pace to the brilliant and thoughtful scenes where Lazarus ruminates with the Doctor, the traditional running-down-corridor scenes were fast paced and spectacular, and reinvented for the 21st century. Once again the Alien films were an inspiration for this production team, as the images of the Lazarus-creature lithely and rapidly pursuing the Doctor demonstrate. (The spinning-upside-down-pursuit camerawork was great!) Tennant is to be applauded for continuing the tradition begun by McCoy in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy by doing his own explosion stunts! (As the Doctor Who Confidential demonstrated after the episode.)
Tennant’s performance here was excellent; nice to see a more restrained approach; his quiet scenes with Gatiss were electric, especially the debate in the cathedral.
A very good story indeed.
2012 thoughts: This and Sherlock show that Gatiss can give a great villainous performance.