MUMMY ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

by Jamie Mathieson 
Starring Peter Capaldi and Frank Skinner
Airs Oct 11
After the tumultuous ending of last week’s terrific episode, Kill The Moon, many of us were wondering, “What the hell happens now?” With Clara and The Doctor not on speaking terms, it felt like a new start for the grumpy old Time Lord.
The Doctor has finally taken that invitation to the Orient Express (this one, an almost perfect reconstruction of it, in space) for some time off (allegedly), but finds mysterious deaths and an ancient force at work, picking off the passengers one-by-one.

Director Paul Wilmshurst, who performed such sterling cinematic work on the previous episode, continues his hot streak with Mummy the Orient Express.

The titular creature, known as The Foretold, is immense; its design and execution flawless (perhaps maybe too much for some younger viewers). Wilmshurst’s camera enhances the true terror and hair-raising horror going on in the adventure.

Each death scene is one to savour; taught, tense and terrifying. In terms of chills, this director is currently Who‘s best at that multiplying them. And top marks to Jamie Hill for portraying the creature in such a macabre and creeping fashion – this is not some kind of pantomime mummy and most assuredly not Scooby Doo.

Frank Skinner, who, for some, may have been inducing negative prejudicial fears (mainly because  he’s not really an actor), is wonderful. Playing Perkins, the train’s “driver”, Skinner will most definitely fall into the category of “Awww, I wish they’d traveled with The Doctor!” by the time you get to the end of the episode.

He’s a real treat. Rather than playing, predictably, a comedic role, Perkins is not. Yes, there’s the odd, very odd gag but he’s a like-mind of the Time Lord and, indeed, comes off almost as menacing at some points. A tremendous job from a life-long fan, heartening to see.

The Twelfth Doctor reaffirms his, what I call, “prick status” by being slightly less than sympathetic throughout, joking in the face of other people as they die. It’s more than a tad unsavoury and most unsettling despite his best wishes at heart. Mummy very much continues this series’ examination of his otherly and cold side.

Like Kill The Moon, this ep also has an interesting halfway gear change, of sorts, moving from the 20s flapper-inspired settings to, well, something quite different… It’s a brave shift and I’m not too sure the resolution of the piece quite works. But there’s a bigger problem here in this disappointing installment – the hangover from last week’s denouement with Clara and The Doctor.

The shadow of their break-up, as it were, hangs heavy over this episode.
Perhaps a little too heavy for my liking. For me, it gets in the way of
the actual story; distracting the mind with the emotional pull of their
problematic relationship. It affects the fluidity of the adventure, giving it a start/stop feel.

After a few weeks of top-notch tales, Mummy on the Orient Express somewhat derails Series 8. What could have been another excellent horror ep is instead a rather confused, unfocused and patchy story.

Oh, and fans of the “Bechdel test” may well raise a wry smirk during one particular scene. 

Mummy on the Orient Express airs on BBC One at 8.35pm, Oct 11

Thanks to the BBC

7 COMMENTS

  1. This review really confused me. The majority of it seems overly positive and makes it seem like a good episode and then out of nowhere this review calls it a disappointing installment. It just seemed very out of the blue. Why not state from the beginning it was disappointing and then talk about positives not give the impression that it's a good episode when really you believe it's not.

  2. ''What could have been another excellent horror ep is instead a rather confused, unfocused and patchy story.''

    Like this review? Because I am still trying to understand it.

  3. Yeah, I have to add my voice to those going "huh?" with the tone of the review. That said, it's nice to see the season shaping up to be the most consistent in living memory in terms of fans either love the episodes or they hate them. No one can accuse Series 8 of sticking to the status quo.

  4. Yeah, I also found the sudden negativity a little abrupt. I've gotten the impression from other reviews that this episode was good but flawed. I'm guessing that's what we were supposed to get from this review as well, but the wording used at the end perhaps reads a little more negative than intended?

  5. Do people get 12 is in a character arc and he will 'soften" up?… They did the same with Hartnell. PC is amazing. Lovin series 8.

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