Sunday 12 October 2014

Mummy on the Orient Express (time shift)

It’s tough to make predictions – especially about the future.
- Yogi Berra

Or (if you want to be all obvious about it)

 You and I do not see things as they are.  We see things as we are.
- Herb Cohen

Me:  Well, I think going on that last scene, we saw the moment – the actual moment – where Clara’s doom becomes totally certain.  She made a choice and that’s it.  She’s not coming out of this one.  Right, okay, so…  Gus?

Him:  It’s a terrible name, isn’t it?

Me:  Played by John Sessions, who’s quite a famous actor.  Interesting.  That’ll be coming back at some stage.  I was wondering for a while there if it was going to turn out to be Perkins who was behind it all.1  It’s all building up and we haven’t seen the last of this episode either.

Him:  Maybe ‘Gus’ stands for something?

Me:  Yeah, could be.

Him:  Like…  ‘Germans Unified Sutekh’?

Me:  Oooo…  Could be.  See what you did there.  Jamie Matheson, the writer – some bits I wasn’t…  I was really surprised to see Clara in the TARDIS at the start, I didn’t think they were going to do that. 

Him:  Okay.

Me:  And then having the episode cover the break-up – giving them a final trip…  You can’t do that.  If you’re going to end something, you end something, you don’t drag it out.  And you certainly don’t do what Clara did at the end.  But we’ll come back to that.  I thought the pre-credits sequence was really effective.  What did you think of the sixty-six seconds?3

Him:  Why was it sixty-six seconds?

Me:  It was do with the phase and the changing of energy – the transferring of one thing to another.

Him:  Why sixty-six?

Me:  That’s how long it took.

Him:  No, I mean-

Me:  And it sounded good. 

Him:  Why didn’t they just go with sixty?

Me:  Sixty-six is just one step away from six-six-six and the Kerrang letters page.

Him:  So’s sixty.

Me:  “Life would be so much simpler if you liked the right people…”  Then the bit about fairy tales that mask the fact that what Maisie said there also applies to tragedy.

Him:  I must’ve missed these conversations.  I was looking at the Mummy.

Me:  No, this is when Clara and Maisie were stuck in the room for ages and ages. 

Him:  Yes, that was a necessary scene.

Me:  I thought Frank Skinner was bearable.  He could’ve been worse.2  David Bamber, the chap playing Captain Quell, has been in things like Rome4 but also has form with Steven Moffat, because he used to be the deputy headteacher in Chalk.  He was good.   

Him:  Chalk was that massively successful thing that Steven Moffat wrote, wasn’t it?

Me:  Moving on.  Did you notice Foxes in there?

Him:  As in the type you get in the garden or the “YOU SICKEN ME!” kind?

Me:  What’s the-?!  So, you weren’t impressed with her singing performance?  All that sh-boop sh-boop?

Him:  What? 

Me:  The ‘jazz’ version of Don’t Stop Me Now by the Queen.5

Him:  The surname kind.

Me:  Foxes is her stage name. 

Him:  The second kind.

Me:  Is that seriously what you though?  I can’t type this up!  That’s a bit harsh.

Him:  No, no.  I’ll need to explain that later.

Me:  You will.  Did you think she was good?

Him:  I don’t know.

Me:  Okay.  I’m going to have to say something about the music, because, once again, the music came very close to wrecking a couple of scenes for me.  Is Murray Gold getting to see these episodes before he-

Him:  It wasn’t that bad.

Me:  Some of it was alright.  A lot of it was alright.

Him:  Through most of it there really wasn’t much music at all.

Me:  And those bits are good. 

Him:  There were only really two bits where you shouted at it to,“SHUT UP!  SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!”

Me:  I know, I know.  It really gets to me now.  I just wish…  It’s all well and good having music over dramatic bits, that’s fine, I get that.  Last week, having let the actors run without underscoring them with this saccharine stuff that sounds like it’s from some blinking eighties Christmas movie…  Can you just not do it?  It’s really distracting.  Anyway, I like the way the Doctor-

Him:  Oh, you liked something about it, did you?  That’s a change.

Me:  No, no, no, no.  Although I’m saying-  I’m being hyper-critical of it because most of the time they’re really getting it right with the music.  And the rest of it – apart from the Orient Express itself, which I didn’t think looked very good-  But, what else are they going to do?  They’re not going to set it on the proper Orient Express.

Him:  I’ve explained this.  It had to be in space.

Me:  Yeah, we did this last time. 

Him:  No, I explained why it had to be in space while we were watching it.  Otherwise, they could’ve just hopped off the train.

Me:  Did you get a sense of Horror Express?

Him:  In that it was, Horror Express?

Me:  Ha!


Me:  It was.

Him:  Why was the Foretold targeting the weaker ones?

Me:  I’ve seen that in something else.  I’m trying to think what…

Him:  I think that’s Doctor Who that you’ve seen that in.

Me:  Yeah.  It’s that kind of a thing.  Clara’s drinking a lot.  There was stuff said about addiction that I thought was interesting.  I noticed someone in the States had written a thing that really surprised me about how… how he liked the idea that Clara would go home from work and she’d open a cheap, screw-top bottle of wine and then get tucked in.  Yeah.  You only get screw-top bottles of wine now.  Basically. 

Him:  You can get cans of wine.

Me:  They don’t make them with corks anymore.

Him:  Cans of wine, cartons of wine…

Me:  Cartons?  Like a tetra-pak carton of wine?

Him:  Yeah.  You can get cartons of grape juice and you can get cartons of wine.

Me:  What, with a straw?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  “For the drinker on the move.  Or on the bus.”  I liked the mystery shopper moments.

Him:  Kegs of wine.

Me:  I liked the-

Him:  Barrels of wine.

Me:  The song seemed like Proms-bait and…  Can you watch when you do that, BBC?  Please don’t slip back into the old rote…  Having dialogue trying to sell the music doesn’t work.  It’s not happening at the moment, but keep an eye on it.  The dialogue tonight was strong, the performances were very strong, great direction from Paul Wilmshurst, Peter Capaldi was electrifying and…  Jenna Coleman’s getting better and better and better, probably.  What did you think of her haircut?

Him:  Like those plastic bottles you get milk in.  You can get wine in those.

Me:  What about Jenna Coleman’s haircut? 

Him:  It looks like it’s part of her face.  It's at just that perfect length.

Me:  Gus’ll be back.  I don’t think this’ll be a repeat of The Doctor’s Wife, where you had Mr Sheen playing the-  Not Mister Sheen the cleaning product-

Him:  House?

Me:  Yeah.  I liked the line, “I just hope it’s a good one.”  I thought that was metatextual, though obviously it wasn’t.  Don’t write in, it’s not for fun.  The jelly baby case?

Him:  I thought that was a box of fingers.

Me:  Ha!  “Gosh, this Doctor’s dark.”

Him:  Ha!

Me:  “Care for a finger?”

Him:  Or maybe they were just really, really, really inflated maggots.

Me:  The first person to die, the elderly lady, she’d been in Curse of Fenric, so obviously that further bolsters my theory that Courtney’s Fenric.2  Nods to Voyage of the Damned?


Me:  It was in space the first time.


Me:  And TIIIIIIIIME!  The domestic side of it was very interesting.  It would be nice if the Doctor and Clara… just went on a journey and didn’t come back to Coal Hill for a while.  She’s basically…  Well, Clara’s cheating on Danny by doing this.


Me:  The way that she turned it around…  That deep breath she took…  Clara made a decision there and it really paid off the scene in Kill the Moon that upset so many people.  It’s interesting they introduced Gus at this stage of the run.  I don’t know if it’ll wrap up or carry over into 2015.

Him:  We might not see Gus again.  It might just be the guy that programmed him.

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Gus is just the computer for that train, that’s why nobody found it suspicious at all.  All trains must have their own computers.  ‘Gus’ and ‘Jeff’ and ‘Steve’-

Me:  “Hi!  I’m Max.”

Him:  No, that wouldn’t work.6

Me:  Well, with the teleport and the soldier theme returning… 

Him:  Was the plot of that one, like, when you’re eating something and it gets stuck in your throat and you’re in intense pain, so what you do is you kill everyone around you in a sixty-six second radius-

Me:  Rather than just have a drink of water?

Him:  Yeah.  Is that what the basis for that was?  The Foretold had something stuck in his stomach so he started killing everyone-

Me:  There’s a line in one of the Dirk Gently books about hiding behind an atom, or a particle, or something.  I think I’m right about this tragedy idea.  Whether or not Missy, the Monk…  It might be something new, might be a return to the World of Fiction.  There’s definitely something going on with teleporters and collections, the soldier theme’s-

Him:  It’s Steven Moffat, it’ll be something random that you’ve never noticed before.  Or rather, something random that you’ve noticed before.2

Me:  That’s why I’m throwing my theories at the wall, then I can be smugger than usual if any of them turn out to be right.

Him:  It’ll be linked to the number of times the extras breathed.

Me:  Oh, right.  Before we wrap up-

Him:  You’ve missed out all my notes.

Me:  You said, “Always that line.”

Him:  Yeah.  And did you make any other notes about that?

Me:  That was what you said, so I wrote it down.

Him:  Do you remember what it means?

Me:  No, do you?

Him:  I do.

Me:  Go on then. 

Him:  That’s not the point.  It’s the principles.

Me:  And what are the principles?

Him:  You never write down my notes, but you fill the page with your notes, so you look all big and clever.

Me:  I don’t think that’s totally fair.  It was nice that Doctor Who had a bit of bite to it this week.  Are you enjoying this series?

Him:  Well, why don’t I answer that in the form of a question?

Me:  I’m enjoying it.  It’s almost as though the Doctor still doesn’t know who he is.

Him:  I don’t know.

Me:  Okay.  Well, on that bombshell.

Him:  You haven’t even talked about my notes.  Or rather, my note.

Me:  Well, what was the line?

Him:  It’s always, “Someone.  Or something.”

Me:  Ha!  Yes, yes it is!

Him:  I can do it!


Me:  Okay.  The Him has just managed to lick his own elbow.  And on that bombshell!  Make a Mummy noise.

Me:  That was creepy.

1.  Although the main ‘review’ is comprised of initial thoughts after the credits have rolled, we did give Mummy on the Orient Express a second watch, which is part of the reason we’re slightly later than usual with this.  I had one of those moments where everything clicked together in favour of Mr Skinner playing the Meddling Monk, and so wanted to try a rewatch while keeping an eye on him throughout and, if you try that, it certainly offers an alternate reading to the character’s actions along with making the performance much more layered.  His parting comment of, “Good luck,” after poking around in the TARDIS made me wonder too – especially if the TARDIS starts playing up in the next episode.

No, I don’t believe I’m right, but I’ll keep offering these ideas while the series is live.2

3.   "Double the number of evil," eh?  Two threes cropping up later on then?2

4.  You both spotted Gus’s use of the thumbs-up/thumbs-down Roman approval system, yeah?  The one that Roman emperors almost certainly didn’t use.2 

5.  Foxes was innocuous enough in her scene, she did what she needed to and looked like she was having a great time doing it.  The freshly-escaped full Prombait ‘jazz’ version of Don’t Stop Me Now, however, well that’s a different story.  The arrangement’s predictable and composed of theoretical emotions, with no actual honest-to-goodness passion evident.  Sure it sounds all professional and expensive, but there’s not even the tiniest amount of heart or soul, no matter how many affected throat-catches Foxes gamely drops into the orchestral schmaltz.  Honestly, what’d be wrong with taking an electronic approach for a change? 

I’ve also seen the name of Nouvelle Vague being taken in vain in relation to the pseudo-jazz interpretation.  Oh dear.  Nouvelle Vague aren’t just in a different league, they’re playing a totally different game altogether.  Y’know, as far as I’m concerned.  Maybe you like sprouts. 

6.  If the person running the research into the Foretold knows what a TARDIS is, might that be because they’ve got one themselves?  Of course, as of Time Heist we know the TARDIS contains voice-changing capabilities, so it would make sense to set the inbuilt-as-standard voice-changer to ‘Luvvie’, if you’re trying to hide your accent.  Perkins might be an engineer, but would he know his way around Gallifreyan engines?  And when he says "forever," is that based on a memory of how long fixing a tiny TARDIS took in 1066?2

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