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August 28, 2015

Doctor Who: 42

by Martin Conaghan, posted May 24th 2007 8:40PM
Doctor Who(S03E07) I'm starting to get the feeling that Russell T. Davies and company are filling time for a big run-in towards the end of series three of Doctor Who.

Last week's episode, 'The Lazarus Experiment' was almost an exercise in filler TV, and this week's roll of the dice (die?) took us into the far reaches of outer space, some time in the future, where a crew of humans were plummeting headlong towards a Sun-like star.

The '42' in the title referred to the 42 (or so) minutes duration of the episode, and the 42-minute countdown until the ship exploded in the corona of the burning sphere.

It's not that the plot wasn't exciting enough, or intriguing enough -- it just felt forced. Real-time adventures can often be hit-or-miss, and I reckon this one was a bit of a miss.

Whereas an episode of 24 often requires a long exhalation of breath at the end of a Jack Bauer-fuelled roller coaster ride, I just felt relieved that '42' was over because I was starting to feel bored.

The basic premise went like this; a bunch of people on a ship had 42 minutes to stop it crashing into the Sun. The master-controls of the ship's engines were several decks away, locked behind a series of password-protected doors -- and a strange supernatural being had possessed one of the crew and was wandering about frazzling them to death.

So, along come Martha and the Doctor, having picked up a distress signal, and our protagonists were chucked headlong into the drama on-board the S.S. Pentallian, which included Martha being jettisoned in an escape pod, only for the Doctor to rescue her, before being possessed himself.

And so it went, until our favourite time-traveller figured it all out and saved the day. Again.

For the second week in a row, I now find myself searching for more inspiration when writing up a review of Doctor Who, and longing for the wider plot to start revealing itself. Despite another brief glimpse of the4 forthcoming 'Mister Saxon' character in the shape of some shadowy operatives monitoring Martha's phone calls to her mother, we're still no closer to the mouth-watering part of the series.

However, the preview for next week's episode gave a hint of promise, being part one of a two-parter, in which a 1913 schoolteacher called John Smith finds himself disturbed by dreams of adventures in time and space... and a mysterious blue box....

Out of seven, I'd give this episode a four.

(Doctor Who - S03E06) How do you rate this episode?
1 - Worst10 (6.3%)
29 (5.7%)
319 (11.9%)
420 (12.6%)
546 (28.9%)
618 (11.3%)
7 - Best37 (23.3%)

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Akbar Fazil

FAP, not sure I understand why you are naming me here.

May 25 2007 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Akbar Fazil and who approved this drek.

And frankly I'm getting tired of the "mad dash" plot device. Does every episode have to have the doctor discovering something and then filming him making a "mad dash" down the hallway/tunnel/corridor to go do something.

More characterization and less running please.

May 25 2007 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Well Larry Hamilton, you have missed the mark in your insult. RTD did not write this episode. This one was penned by Chris Chibnall.

May 25 2007 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Funny, my first association about 42 was Douglas Adams and the answer to "life, the universe and everything".
And I'm sorry to say I didn't like the episode.

May 25 2007 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"the blame lies solely on the shoulders of the Martha Jones character"

I think you're onto something. I've been trying to give the Martha character the benefit of the doubt, but she still hasn't grown on me. We're seven episodes in and I still don't have any real sense of what the Martha's actually about - what are her motivations? I'm not asking for Konstantin Stanislavsky but a deeper sense of why the character's sticking around might make the audience care about her.

Mind you, doing all that and still coming up with interesting episodes is very difficult. Balancing the story pace within each episode, character development and a broader story arc would be tricky, which is why I'll never cut it as a writer!

May 25 2007 at 3:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"The energy of the previous two series seems to have been diminished in this one. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later."

I couldn't agree more... though I feel the blame lies solely on the shoulders of the Martha Jones character... she, like her family, tend to come off as more annoying than interesting...

as for this episode, seems I'd rather take a nap half way through than see it through to the end... luckily it was dvr'd to watch later... though while watching it I kept wishing I was asleep... hmmm

May 25 2007 at 1:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, I love the doctor, not so much this one. I grew up watching Tom Baker, as the doctor and I loved him, I cry when he was replaced. I would watch him again if they show the old show, I watched them on PBS as a kid, and they scard the day lights out of my brother. I wished they would bring back some of the good shows, and 86 this junk, like a show about cavemen, who are they going to go with that.

May 25 2007 at 12:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry Hamilton

Uncle Rusty T. proves once again he is a horrible writer. Too bad he was put in charge of such a great franchise like Doctor Who. His writing glares of plot holes and reuse like no other. Half of his writing is meant for nothing other than pleasing fangirls and does nothing for true scifi fans.

This episode was absolute dreck. It seemed like I was watching The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit episodes from last series. Get on with the real story underlying this season. Is Saxon The Master? Is he the Raini in disguise? Stop writing emo BS where the doctor cries that he is so scared to please the fangirls and start writing real science fiction.

Thank you. :D

May 24 2007 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was doing my best trying to remember older Doctor Who shows where the Doctor ends up on a spaceship that's doomed. I can think of at least one with the Sixth Doctor, but I'm sure there's a few more. This one was the standard "haunted house" approach, only without any cats jumping out of closets and with the female captain pleading with/for the boogeyman/husband. It wasn't thought through enough. In the best shows like this, you have some OTHER character to root for, and that just didn't come through, either. It's like they want to have enough action to fill the "42 minutes", so they leave out any extra characterization of anyone. They tried that with the captain in this case, but just kind of left things lay. And there certainly wasn't enough there for a second episode. Filler ep.

May 24 2007 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Basically, all I can think of watching new Doctor Who is "JOHN SIMM!!!!"

I'm waiting patiently. Did enjoy the episode, though.

May 24 2007 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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