It’s the 50th century and mankind has ventured out into the solar system, but when a routine shipping vessel is attacked by a strange lightning cloud in space, the crew undergoes some bizarre changes.
I must say, for a story that deals with people becoming possessed by a virus that threatens to spread throughout the solar system, this is surprisingly breezy. The humour that has developed over the past few seasons is still here, but there is no real sense of threat or urgency to go with it. It’s all a bit lighthearted, while the plot is brisk and somewhat flakey. One moment they’re fighting for their lives against the infected crew, the next they’re whisked off to a hospital, the next they’re making shrunken clones of themselves and running around inside the Doctor’s brain. Weird.
This lightheartedness is also apparent in the show’s newest companion, the robo-dog K-9, who may as well be called Scrappy-do. K-9 is one of the few classic Doctor Who things that I’m aware of, so it’s nice to see where he came from. With his handy built-in stun-gun, I suspect he will be used as a convenient get-out clause whenever the pot calls for it… but that remains to be seen.
For the most part, the production in this story is actually really good. Some of the model work is excellent and the sets have a good futuristic style to them. The odd spelling on some of the signs caught my eye (“shutle” and “egsit”) – I’m assuming it was intentional, perhaps showing an evolution of language. Can anyone shed any light on this?
Elsewhere, however, things take a turn for the corny. The laser and electricity effects throughout all look a bit rubbish, the nucleus parasite costume is hilariously wobbly, and then there’s the frankly bizarre trip though the Doctor’s brain cells, in which the carbon clones are apparently able to walk around unhindered in the microscopic world. Sure, that was funny when Futurama did the same thing, but in a more serious sci-fi, it comes across very corny.
While I do appreciate a change in tone now and again, this was a bit weak. Full of “big” ideas but it rushes through them without consequence or drama.