Review: The Empress of Mars
Obligatory Spoiler Warning
If you haven’t seen it yet. Well, go see it Right Now!! It’s the best episode of the series so far.
It just is. Ok.
The pre-credits sequence has the Doctor taking the mickey out of NASA and then seeing “God Save The Queen” come up on the screen as a message etched in the Martian landscape we are off on quite the romp.
As Writer Mark Gatiss describe it as kind of a Jules Verne episode. A Victorian Regiment on Mars. I thought they’d have a hard time explaining that one. But Gatiss weaved that very logically. The Victorian soldiers fighting in Africa come across the damaged spaceship of an Ice Warrior they dubbed “Friday” (yes, that’s cheese, loved it) and they help him get home and he promised them, like any good genie would, “riches beyond your wildest imagination” or was that Luke Skywalker to Han Solo, I’m confused. 🙂
The Ice Warrior, of course, is just playing along until the bumbling apes helping him do the dirty work waiting for them to strike gold. His kind of gold.
An Ice Queen. Very Royal. Very Regal. And very powerful. Very well played.
The Doctor is again in that situation he was frequently in with UNIT, trying to keep the humans from getting slaughtered by the Alien because they blunder around and shoot at everything.
Peter does another great turn as his Doctor tries to keep the Humans alive and keep The Ice Warriors from killing them mainly. The Military Mind, eh Brigadier… 🙂
I didn’t even mind the Victorian-era SJW slam about women in the episode, because it was true back then to begin with.
The characters were great. The Cowardly Commander who redeems himself, the dastardly over-the-top, mustache-twirling psychopath Catchlove who reminded me of Monty Python,really. Even “Friday” was excellent as he is the one who helps convince his Queen not to slaughter the humans.
“I dare say the British army is more than a match for a bunch of upright crocodiles”
All so very Victorian. 🙂
But one of the things I really did wonder about occurred during the episode when Nardole goes back to the TARDIS and the TARDIS dematerializes back to the University and refuses to budge.
Then it stuck me.
Nardole has “K9 Disease”!! or Matt’s available is limited (or the third option-it’s deliberate which is boringly likely). K-9 Disease goes back to 1980 when K-9 was made a companion of the 4th Doctor and the writers were baffled by the computer that could solve the mystery of the week in 2 seconds flat. So they abused him horribly nearly every week to get him out of the way of the plot.
I think it more likely that Matt is the third banana in a 2 hander, Peter and Pearl. So they let him for a few scenes and then he’s off so the story can focus on Peter and Pearl.
But I swear that notion just popped into my head.
But the highlight was at the end.
And voiced by the original actress, 92 year old Ysanne Churchman!!!
After she retired from acting in 1993, Mark Gatiss and the BBC team pulled out all the stops to persuade Churchman to return almost 50 years later.
Alpha Centauri, a one-eyed green alien made a cameo via video link as an ambassador for the Galactic Federation welcoming the Ice Warriors to the wider universe.
Which leads eventually to superb 2 episodes of Peladon in the Jon Pertwee era in 1972 and 1974.
Now that’s how to end a Doctor Who episode. A small addition, but one that both gives long-time fans an added grin, and also gives the impression that the universe ticks along whether the Doctor is visiting or not.
A nod to the past. Something that should happen more often. WHO has a very rich 54 year history, use it! 🙂
God Save The Queen.