Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Doctor Who, "The Horror of Glam Rock" and "Immortal Beloved"

"The Horror of Glam Rock," the third outing for the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller (following the two-part "Blood of the Daleks") and released in March 2007, is set along a motorway on Earth in 1974 - the closest the Doctor is allowed to get to Lucie's own time. The title, of course, is a play on the Fourth Doctor story "The Horror of Fang Rock," and plays up the glam era.

Trapped in a diner along the motorway along with the Doctor and Lucie is manager Arnold Korns (Bernard Cribbins - Wilfred Mott from the television series) and his latest proteges, Tommy and Trisha Tomorrow… as well as Lucie's Aunt Pat who, in 1974, has no niece. Tommy Tomorrow has inadvertently summoned hungry aliens, and the group in the diner must find a way to send the aliens away again.

The story was a slight one, with surprisingly little tension, despite one horrific death and several other characters in peril. In fact, surprisingly little is made of the glam rock era, other than some references to various musicians (the Doctor name-drops Brian Eno) and the use of period music. Mainly this is a "base under siege" story that could be set anywhere.

The next story in the series, "Immortal Beloved," from April 2007, is a meatier story. When the Doctor and Lucie land on what appears two be a Grecian hilltop, they find two lovers, Kalkin and Sarati, about to kill themselves by throwing themselves off the cliff, rather than live the lives for which they have been raised. The Doctor intervenes, allowing General Ares to arrive in a helicopter to take the pair with him. Instead, Kalkin shoots Ares, who is tended to by the Doctor.

When the group returns to a palace, the Doctor and Lucie encounter rulers Zeus (Ian McNeice, later Winston Churchill in the TV series, and the wonderful newsreader in the series Rome) and Hera (Elspet Gray, Time Lady Thalia in "Arc of Infinity" from the classic TV series), and Tayden, a young man to whom Lucie takes a fancy. Lucie is horrified when Hera operates machinery to transfer Ares' mind from his dying body to that of Tayden - a clone, raised for just such a purpose. Kalkin is a clone of Zeus (as indeed is young Ganymede, played by Paul McGann's son Jake), while Sarati is Hera's clone. The ruling class are all survivors of a spaceship crash over a thousand years ago. With the use of a succession of clones, they have maintained control over the native population since the crash.

Issues of the morality of using clones, who have distinct personalities, for this purpose, as well as the wisdom of having a ruling class seeking immortality, are prominent in this plot. The story has its share of humor, too. When the TARDIS crew finds Kalkin and Sarati on the hill and Lucie discovers that Kalkin is the prince, she says, "Oh, a prince? I am Lucie of the M-62, and this is my bumbling assistant, the Doctor." To which the Doctor replies in McGann's droll tone, "How flattering."

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