TV Review: "Doctor Who" 8x08: Mummy on the Orient Express

Written by: Lord Gremlin

Ok, that’s it. I’m getting really sick of repeating myself. I almost want to dislike an episode this season just to break up the monotony of positivity I’ve been spewing forth for 7 weeks in a row. I mean, what’s the point of interneting if I’m not gonna hate on something once in a while?

You know what? Fuck that noise, I’m going to ride the happy train on this new season of Doctor Who for as long as it continues to impress me. Considering were 8 for 8 at the moment, I can only be optimistic that the remaining 4 episodes continue this winning streak.

So, remember in my review last week when I said “Kill the Moon” reminded me of why I love Doctor Who in the first place? Ok good. Allow me to cannibalize my own words and say this weeks “Mummy on the Orient Express” did the exact same thing. I was expecting nothing more than a jolly runaround akin to “Time Heist” and nothing more, but what I got was a total surprise.

This week’s episode is the kind of premise Doctor Who knows how to make the most of. It is a show where they can literally go anywhere and do anything, so why not put a killer mummy on a space train? The inspiration for this episode seemed to come from all over the place. We got a little bit of Universal and Hammer horror in there, a tinge of Agatha Christy, and a distinctly strong vibe from the Phillip Hinchcliffe era of the show, which is considered by many fan to still be the all-time pinnacle of Who’s history.

The production this season continues to impress me and top itself week to week. This was a glorious episode to look at. The atmosphere was spot on, the set and costume design was top notch, the CGI was well executed and the titular mummy was fantastic. I also loved the image of an old school train, steam and all, driving through the black void space.

The plot delivered the required twists and turns and was paced wonderfully. Clever is the word I would use to describe the script for this one. Simply a well told, clever yarn. The plot doesn’t reveal all of its secrets to the audience (Who was Gus?) but that is entirely purposeful if you ask me, and will most likely pay-off during the rapidly approaching season finale.

And of course Capaldi and Coleman were great. It was a surprise to see Clara back considering last week’s tiff she had with the Doctor, but this was dealt with perfectly by the script, which smartly doesn’t try to derail the plot with more Clara/Doctor fighting. Their little scene at the end is yet another example of why 12 and Clara just seem to work together, much more than 11 and Clara ever did. The 12th Doctor has brought out so much more of Clara over these past 8 episodes I think the history of the show will remember her as 12’s Companion than 11’s-sort of like how Sarah Jane is remembered as the 4th Doctors Companion, even though she started off with the 3rd Doctor. They just define each other.

9/10. Overall, “Mummy on the Orient Express” is a better time than the kitschy title would suggest. It is a fun premise given added weight due to a wonderfully balanced script, high production values, excellent pacing, and the require creepy factor Who is so good at. I’d go so far as to call a minor NuWho classic.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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