(And may I say, I'm very pleased with the handling of the Plot Arc this season. Dear S1 and S2: shoehorning a particular word into every episode is not an arc. Dropping hints throughout the season that something sinister is closing in while gradually ratcheting up the menace, that's an arc. We have an arc! It was not gratuitously mentioned in irrelevant episodes just for the tickybox value!)
Without further ado...
- I really, really love TARDIS scenes. And here we have (again) the Doctor flying with both hands and one foot. Ah, Doctor/TARDIS porn. And little zappy silly vortex noises. Can't we just stay here for 42 minutes?
- I don't object to the phone thing; some elements of taking on a new companion do require repetition. It both reinforces Martha's companion-ness and sets up events a few acts down, which is pretty good use of a minute in the teaser.
- The color palette of this episode is beautiful. The reds and oranges of the spaceship, the contrasty greens in the med center, the blue light in the capsule, and that gorgeous gorgeous sun (I don't care if it's ridiculously out of scale). I just want to lick the entire episode.
- Seven crewmembers? In the commentary, someone says they should've had name tags. Damn right. There's no time to develop anybody as having much of a personality, people get picked off before we can care about them in the slightest, we never even meet Korwin before he gets possessed, and I can't remember anyone else's name. At the end of TIP/TSP (oh, come on, comparisons are inevitable), I was wishing they'd take along some of the base crew as companions. At the end of 42, I could barely remember who the second surviving guy was. Yes, TIP/TSP had a lot more room in which to develop its characters, but 42 was clearly aware of its time constraints, and bit off way too much with that supporting
- I sort of hate it when the Doctor goes all "Awwww, c'MON." David Tennant's accent gets really broad and it's just... ew.
- But the "happy primes" bit was funny. I am easy. I can admit it.
- I had to watch this episode a second time because I failed to catch a lot of important details from the beginning. It's the first time I've rewatched anything this season, and it held up quite well. I was honestly impressed at how many potential nitpicks were actually headed off with explanations. The science may not make sense -- don't expect miracles here -- but for an episode of Doctor Who it's got remarkable internal consistency, and Chibnall deserves some credit for making almost every line of dialogue serve the plot.
- However: Chris, if you don't want everybody to consider your episode a cheap knockoff of The Satan Pit, please stop recycling elements. It was teetering on the brink even before we got the Doctor in that (same) spacesuit.
- Yes, the pacing screeches to a halt (bizarrely, since there are like TEN MINUTES LEFT FOR EVERYONE TO LIVE AAAAAAAHHH!!!!) while the Doctor puts on the spacesuit, waits for the chamber to decompress, etc, and Martha calls her mom and chats with Riley and despairs. They actually fudge the clock less than I thought they did in this section, but it still feels really weird. On the other hand, when you're in a little capsule heading inexorably for death, I bet four minutes does feel like a really long time.
- I spent most of the spacewalk scene wondering WTF the Doctor thought it was going to accomplish; that explanation flew by a little too fast. Why is there a safety return thing on the outside of the ship, not even within easy reach of the hatch? Oh, why the hell not.
- Purple! ... or did I say orange? Was that a Monty Python joke?
- I loved the entire Possessed Doctor sequence. This is where the episode goes from, "Wasn't this called The Satan Pit last time I saw it? And wasn't it better then?" to being something new. I am an enormous sucker for vulnerable, messed-up Doctor, and I loved his interaction with Martha. Who does a decent job at being intelligent and in control, even when the Doctor is freaking the hell out. She acts like somebody who might possibly have medical training. Wow.
- I don't care who says that Christopher Eccleston is a serious Shakespearean actor and David Tennant is a weasel; Tennant sells me on it. Eccleston's blindingly fake torturedness in Dalek was just embarrassing. Everyone who sneers about "gurning" was just as loud back in S1, before Eccleston was deified, and I think Tennant pulls this kind of thing off with greater conviction.
- I still have no idea what "impact" with a sun means, exactly.
- YES IT IS OKAY TO CALL STARS OTHER THAN THE ONE WE PERSONALLY ORBIT 'SUNS.' When being pedantic, consult a dictionary.
- Chris, what did we say about The Satan Pit? Did you have to lift the hug, too? I'm not somebody who sees Rose in every shadow, but there was massive visual resemblance there.
- For this entire episode, I've been okay with all the screaming and moaning, but I thought that hysterical giggle sounded really fake. But I guess hysterical giggles generally do.
- I think the Doctor/Martha relationship is really starting to gel. They're friends. They trust each other. They save each other's lives. She's going to leave of her own free will someday, and it's going to be okay. I like her.
- People were confused by the Doctor's upsetness in the TARDIS at the end? Were we watching the same show? The one where he almost killed everybody? "What was that look about? Is it foreshadowing something? Was he thinking about Rose?" Um.
- Yay for the TARDIS key, on a chain long enough to actually wear to boot. I love that it's just a simple Yale key; the design choices in the new show are just so damn awesome.
- I love the Doctor's face during Martha's phone call.
- And more sinister Saxon-ness!
- In short (ha): this is easily my favorite episode of the season. I found the first handful of episodes to be consistent but uninspired, hated the Dalek two-parter, and perked up at The Lazarus Experiment, but here it really feels like it's hit its stride. TLE has some good bits, but it was a quick hit of optimism that's gotten a little less exciting as it fades into memory. 42, on the other hand, has been growing on me, and the last third is the best Doctor Who I've seen in a long time. I am happy.
- I think Chris Chibnall may possibly have redeemed himself a little bit, though ten bucks says Rusty rewrote the good bits.