We’ve been avidly watching Heroes since it started showing here in the UK. The series has attracted a couple of big sci-fi names into guest roles, and have dropped in a couple of references to their more famous roles. First to appear is Christopher Eccleston, better known as the ninth Doctor – Claude, his Heroes character is fairly early on heard to use the ninth Doctor ‘fantastic’ catch-phrase. However the really stand out one has to be when George Takei – Sulu in Star Trek – turns up as father to Hiro Nakamura. As he gets into his car, the camera pans across the license plate – NCC 1701!
After being a bit disappointed with the return of the Daleks last week, I’m glad to say that the Lazarus Experiment was a definite return to form. Of course it was ripping off other sci-fi stories all over the place – The Fly and the Quatermass Experiment for a start, and of course the ambitious scientist whose experiment goes wrong has been done before in various forms during the history of Doctor Who, but it was thoroughly enjoyable none the less.
Amongst the cast, it also marked the first appearance of Mark Gatiss on screen in the series, him having penned The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot’s Lantern shown in the previous two seasons. Gatiss was given the pivotal role of Professor Richard Lazarus, the scientist whose great experiment on himself, alongside apparently making him younger, reawakens long dormant genes that transform him into a monster that rampages through the building. Considering that Gatiss is both primarily known as a comedy actor and is also a fan, his appearance could very well have been a hammy overacted disaster, but I am glad to say that it was great, with Lazarus being believable and well rounded, a notable scene being towards the end in Southwark Cathedral (although as the scissor arch in later scenes gives away was actually filmed in Wells) where Lazarus and the Doctor talk before their final battle.
Alongside the entertaining main plot, we also go quite a bit of significant seed sowing for later on in the season. During the course of the episode, Martha’s mother is warned by a mysterious guest at the party that the Doctor is dangerous. Initially you take it to be someone who works for Lazarus. However later on he reappears and tells her something else – something we as the audience do not hear, and later she slaps the Doctor. Then in the final moments of the episode she leaves a message on Martha’s answering machine saying that she knows who the Doctor really is, and the information comes from Harold Saxon himself. By this point it is too late for Martha to hear the warning – by this point she’s already talked herself into a permanent spot in the TARDIS, and is heading to new adventures…
Which leads nicely on to what is usually the ‘next time’ trailer. The episode next week has been postponed thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest. Since we’re also about halfway through this season, the production team gave us a special treat, a trailer for the whole of the rest of the season. In amongst clips of 42, you get to see quite a few moments from the much anticipated reworking of Paul Cornell’s 1995 novel Human Nature, plus Jack Harkness who is due to reappear in Utopia, and some more tantalising glimpses of John Simm as Harold Saxon – definitely looking good.
The BBC are going all out with the build up to the final episode of the current series of Doctor Who, even going so far as to suggest that fans avoid the internet so as not to be tempted by the daily teasers and clues on the www.badwolf.org.uk site!
I’m still no nearer to working out who or what Bad Wolf is, however a quick glance and the cast list for the episode on Saturday shows two names playing the Doctor, so it looks like it was always planned that David Tennant would take over at this point. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens, and how the changeover occurs.