“It’s hardly a perfect 20s recreation if Queen is playing!” (Mummy on the Orient Express Review #1)

My Private Notebook

Fair warning, this is long – but you are treated to gifs along the way. If you don’t like gifs… *shrugs* – though I have now taken from it most of the remarks and paragraphs made in the shared review. Too, it’s rough, but that the entire idea: my random spontaneous bizarre thoughts as I experience what I’ve now decided was a bizarre episode of cult favourite Doctor Who. If you want to see more of my thoughts, go to Nevillegirl’s post.

I originally tallied down my thoughts for Engie whilst watching Mummy on the Orient Express, but they got so rhetoric, dry (as in dry wit) and random that I decided not to share them with the review I was doing with her. A silly sense of humour that requires spontaneity is awesome, but not when one has to be in pair. Hence, review #1. #2 I’ll repost that sometime this week. Sundays are meant to be my days off… #toomuchtodo

Obviously spoilers. As with my review of Into the Dalek, I also had my good friend and Doctor Who conversationalist @EmuCat live tweeting alongside me, which made for some interesting tweets, the conversations of which I’ve included. Then we’re good to go! Without any further ado…

Oh, sorry, wrong fandom.

A bit overdramatic a pre-titles opening, though the concept of the ticking clock is interesting.

“Is there a Doctor?” Here’s where I expect The Doctor to jump out. Oh, look, a wild TARDIS appears.

I still love those opening titles. A perfect balance between Classic and new Who, me thinks.

“But in space.” You don’t say.

Don’t Stop Me Now. How appropriate. Are they really travelling at the speed of light? I doubt it. Give me proofs and figures.

CoNVER1

Indeed he was. I haven’t talked about the setting here, but you can find it in the other review.

Oh, hi Clara. *not impressed* But is this just an ulterior Clara? “It’s like you’re malfunctioning.” Four for you for the robot reference – I’d actually be interested in seeing a version of Clara that’s actually a robot. It would make the frequent death/resurrection interesting.

Oh, okay, it’s her last trip. I see. Interesting conversational dynamics between them – anger, but restrained and kept together, in the way Clara is great at doing. Plus, there’s that scene of talking whilst trapped in the carriage. This is almost a third draft I’d write. Okay, cruel comment. But the thought stands – Doctor Who gripped me more when there were less emotional complications. Even Martha put the alien-fighting before her feelings.

The Doctor is doing his best to avoid the conversation again.

convolasthur

Thought I recognised it. Nevertheless, it’s a very 30s phrase.

Ooh, some science. This makes me happy. Excelsior Life-Helping 😀 I’m not gonna say I want one, ‘cause that would be Playing God, but I’ll admit that it sounds like a cool piece of tech, especially for the context.

Perkins! Oh, hey, Frank Skinner. *waves* Great character. Very rounded. Very witty. His choice to walk away is very poignant – reflects Clara, and foils every past companion. The not-companions. He’s a great intelligent mechanic, too, and it’s been a while since there’s been a side-character with such attributes, even if he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with The Doctor on so many levels.

This is almost Dieselpunk in itself – technology and electronics in a world run by steam(ish) and gorgeous archaic decoration. Otherwise, the world would be dark and cold, I suppose, and that would be poor evening TV performances.

That smile ❤

Call me Gus!

I liked Gus. I like optimism in death. I like computer voices, disembodied souls, even if they leave obvious doubt in everyone’s minds as to their Good-Sinful orientation. Will we ever meet Gus again? I hope so. I want to know the history of this train.

But the sonic isn’t working! Oh, hi, I was right: transportation of artefacts. Funny that it’s here because of the mummy, rather than t’other way around.

convo2

Now I wans’t convinced by the sacrifices. They didn’t give us long enough to know the captain or the expert – “can we get a new expert?” yes please. I don’t even remember his name – before they were claimed by The Foretold.

Clara’s dress is nice. Good choice of muted colours, even if they match her hair. Call it cliché of the era, but I want that dress. So pretty! And it suits her. If only life had costume designers.

I didn’t like Maisie. She irritated me. I didn’t see much point to her character but that of ‘the one to save’ or ‘Clara’s friend’. Umm… Bechdel test anyone? I know, I know, it’s been commented that some characters do need to get things off their chest this way – but I, a girl who often fails the Bechdel test in life, was sitting there, thinking “can we please move on now? I’m bored.”

Her makeup. It’s terrible, and I mean that it’s deliberately so. It reflects her life – and what a twisted, non-paranoid life that was! It also suggests more of the falsity behind the entire set up of the train. Not only are the guests playing dress-up with their imaginary, faulty 1934, but the train is playing dress-up with them, right down to the holographic passengers. That begs the question, though – what role was Maisie meant to be in the scientific investigations? She must’ve had some mind on her, but with the trauma, she was shown to be nothing but weak, and the stress of her overdone makeup showed that.

But I couldn’t connect to her. I didn’t see the depth beyond her exterior, and isn’t that writers are meant to make us see?

The occasional cutting back and forth to the clock in the corner was disorientating.

Conflict: you can’t run from The Foretold (which makes sense if one retrospects to the phase-shifting science). Good. Another time-pressure level.

It’s almost 11.30 in the captain’s cabin.

Okay, that was an interesting – if a Christie-esque cliché – turn of ‘who is the one behind this?’. This is the peak in the story, the pick up of pace in a slow episode. And, of course Gus is morally questionable. You’re aiming to catch and/or kill this phase-shifting creature, after all.

Oh, wow, it’s not a train. And, oh look, more fake scenes. This seems to be a running line of interest – a possible link to Missy and the final episodes? So who invited them onto the train? And they didn’t know? A bit of continuity stuff here. Give me facts, numbers, eras!

A good use of the lab and lab-rat settings, though gruesome. I prefer the idea now that’s a set experimental scene, rather a façade where nothing fits. Is that a homage to At Bertram’s Hotel? It also pokes some fun at the forced falseness of the 30s class system, even when the times are changing I guess, for links like that, this episode gets cookies, but links and references are not enough to sustain me.

The use of The Doctor to work out the pattern – and now the pace does increase. Randomness. Or not. But the Mummy is trying to help…? Oh, no. He’s just trying to kill the enemy.

Ooh, phase shifting (not musical). I knew that if they explained science they’d do it well. The addition time pressure that they will all eventually die is worth it, I think, but, for me, it’s a little too late. I wonder if The Doctor, having two hearts, would be the last to die in that situation.

The implication of picking off the weakest – now, is that hardly fair? I mean, good tactic – we sometime video-game players use it to slaughter the enemy, but in real war, one’d probably want to try and knock out the big man first. One swipe from him and you’d be dead. Just kick away the mini men at your ankles.

Okay, I’ll admit those are pretty sharp. *cymbal crash somewhere far in the distance*

Oh, no, Clara don’t go off on one. Not now, when people have 66 seconds to describe a being that will consume their entire energies at the end of that minute-six.

Cinematography: beautiful, luscious train, in contrast with the haggard, bandaged brown-grey of the mummy. The deep, dark colours of the captain’s cabin intrigues me – does it reflect his darker past and personality? I don’t like him personally, but I like the arc his character faces.

And the brown of the mechanical bay – a reverse reflection of the lab atmosphere, which is surprisingly bright against the dark under-train discoveries…almost as if the more the characters learn about the creature and their position, the more their surroundings reflect the growing knowledge. The blue and whites of the lab are very…stark. Cold, but a safe kind of cold. The use of light is great, too, especially in those final scenes. Another stark change. Unsettling. Irritating.

The TARDIS too is looking very blue today. Electronic. In a nice way. That’s a nice bookcase. Gets points for space symmetry.

The ending… I don’t know what to say. I’m kind of gaping at the screen. Clara’s ‘wobble’. Hmph. She’s still there. I’m not convinced.

CONVO3

The Doctor. He lies. Of course. I guess it would be interesting to know whether he did or did not save those people, and the idea of him being a monster again. I feel this episode nevertheless veiled its darker moments, so that one could enjoy the science and the sci-fi without, for the most part, having to contemplate the social and ethical dilemmas nearly all of the characters go through… Clara and her want to leave; the captain and his desire to ignore what’s in front of his nose, probably a symptom of his PTSD; Maisie, who’s bottled up her dislike of her gran for so long (she’d be a good Christie murder suspect); The Doctor and his cold, harsh nature here. Can I just point out how quickly the scientists walked away from the window after the cooking team was decompressed? I know they have to work for their lives and not mourn, but nobody says two words about Gus’ methods of persuasion and lack of mercy, least of all The Doctor.

Who is the greatest monster in Mummy on the Orient Express? I don’t think we will ever know.

People have been saying about this reference/foreshadowing:

I’m not sure about that being a foretelling, though. Goddess. After all, the other Christie-esque episode had ‘foreshadowing’ where The Doctor says to Martha just before she leaves him that they should visit Mrs. Christie.

The more I think about Mummy, the more I want to write huge paragraphs of why I didn’t like it. My biggest criticism/disappointment was that it wasn’t fun. Sure, it was entertaining and there were a selection of passable one-liners, but I didn’t find it fun in the way I did the Unicorn and the Wasp.

Dark, though. Dark and deep.

Overall, a very weird episode. Not what I expected at all, but impressive. 3.5/5. I’m sure you’ll find loads of other blogger reviews if you Google. Two analytic ones I liked were New Who For You Too!’s live Tumble of the episode and Doctor Who TV’s look at the 12 Great Moments from it. Do check both of them out, as they look at the episode in a much more positive light (I’ve tried and I do think it was very clever, I simply couldn’t get myself to enjoy it, as sad as that was, and one must go with the gut instinct on a review), whilst also touching on some of the more in-depth points and themes that I, in either of my reviews, have not spent enough time on to pull apart. Oh, and do check out the Doctor Who Extra program on YouTube. This, of course, allows for admiration of costume, set, lighting, filmography etc without my questioning of the overall arc and plot and me with my analytic magnifying glass 😀

Mummy on the Orient Express will certainly be one of those episodes that stands more as a stepping stone to the characters’ actions and overarching series plot than one that I’d watch for its solo merits (contra Unicorn and the Wasp).

Have a good day.

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