Saturday, June 10, 2017

Doctor Who--"The Empress of Mars"

      If I had to sum up “The Empress of mars” in a single word, it would be cliched. Writer Mark Gatiess was probably aiming for an homage to Jules Vverne and cheesy move serials from the '30's, but he was not up to the task of tying it all together. The episode was the subject of numerous re-writes which involved settings changes and character additions, which usually is not a good sign. Whatever the cause there definitely was problem.
      The Doctor, Bill, Nardole travel to Mars after NASA discovers a “God Save the Queen” message on the planet's surface. Team TARDIS discovers a group of Victorian Era soldiers who have allied themselves with an ice Warrior they named Friday. Friday allows them to mine mars supposedly for treasure, but he is actually looking for his Empress. They find her ad her warriors. She is temporarily convinced the war the ice Warriors were fighting ended 5,000 years ago, but a trigger happy soldiers sparks a new conflict. There is a pointless battle before n officer who previously deserted redeems himself by pledging loyalty to the Empress. Because betraying Britain twice makes everything all right. The end.
    Okay...not exactly the end. The TARDIS acts up by taking Nrdole to Earth and refusing to return to Mars. He recruits Missy to help him. When they arrive on mars, h doctor is shocked to discover she was helpful and even more so was concerned for his well-being. Or maybe he was afraid of the consequences of letting her out of the vault. Would letting her out before the 1,000 years is up cause her to revert back to The Master? The possibility might explain his return for the finale.
     I can understand naming the ice Warrior Friday. The soldiers were referencing Robinson Crusoe. There is even a movie named Robinson Crusoe on Mars, so that is kind of clever. As an unintended coincidence, the movie featured Adam West, who died on Friday. But some of the other aspects of “The Empress of Mars” are cringe-worthy. Captain Catchlove? Colonel Godsacre? A soldier showing another a photo of his girlfriend back home before he is killed? The dialogue straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon does not help give this one any air of tension. I wanted to like it. A retro-science fiction story combining elements of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs sounded great. But it did not turn out that way.
      Rating: * (out of 5)

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