Monday, 23 May 2011

Doctor Who: The Rebel Flesh ( review with spoilers )

( The staff at The Glass Walking-Stick - me, basically - would like to apologise for this ridiculously late Doctor Who review. The spirit was willing but the, er, flesh was weak... )

After last week's Gothic, spaced-out adventure, the Tardis comes back down to Earth with a bump. Literally. A solar storm hits the time machine, upsetting Amy and Rory's game of darts (!) and forcing the Time Trio to crash- land on 22nd century Earth. They find themselves on a remote island where a monastery has been converted into a factory for mining some kind of acid and pumping it to the mainland. It's unclear what use this future society has for acid ( the old-fashioned, corrosive kind, not "Aciiieed!" for old school ravers ) but it's obviously important and dangerous work. So dangerous that Gangers are used.....


Gangers are doubles or doppelgangers created by The Flesh, an industrial vat of "fully programmable matter", and controlled by the consciousnesses of their human templates / operators. When a Ganger is injured in the hazardous depths of the factory, the humans simply let it die and return to their own bodies. That is, until the solar storm hits and the resulting power surge turns the Gangers "rogue".....

"You gave them your lives. Human lives are amazing. Are you surprised they ran off with them?"

The Rebel Flesh is a new version of the classic "base-under-siege" scenario, with obvious nods to The Thing and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. The twist here being that these duplicates didn't intend to steal your life, but aren't too happy about giving it up either. Paranoia abounds: who can you trust when the person next to you may be your friend... but may also be a flesh-morphing duplicate?



While not a classic episode this is certainly a lot more substantial than I'd expected from Matthew Graham, the man who brought us the tedious Fear Her back in Season Two. The monastery setting is wonderfully creepy with its dank, dripping corridors and dungeons slowly filling up with deadly, leaking acid. Director Julian Simpson handles the necessary exposition well and ramps up the claustrophobia as the humans and Gangers play cat and mouse with fatal consequences. The Gangers themselves are faintly disgusting in a teatime-body-horror kind of way, all melted-wax, veiny faces and Plastic Man-type bodily contortions. ( I've got a feeling that part two of the story will propel us to the almost-inevitable morphing of all the surviving Gangers into one blobby, gestalt entity. Not unlike John Prescott. )

I'm especially heartened that, for once, the threat doesn't come from Out There, isn't alien - Doctor Who can come across as almost xenophobic at times, which is surely far from the heart of the show's humanistic ethos.

Another bonus is that Rory starts to show a bit of pluck in this episode, defending the Ganger version of Jennifer from her human colleagues who see her as a monster to be destroyed, and from Amy who isn't too sympathetic either. Of course, it helps that Jennifer's cute. When she's got her human face on.....

The episode leaves us with the well-telegraphed cliffhanger of a Ganger Doctor straightening his bow tie and saying "Trust me... " But can we? Tune in next week.....

Four Out Of Five Bow Ties



6 comments:

Mickey Glitter said...

I missed this week's episode and was so looking forward to your review. Thank you! I will have to commandeer my mom's television an hour early on Saturday to catch up.

(Listening to too loud music and drinking tends to mess up one's Who schedule) =)

cerebus660 said...

No problem! As I said, this review was ridiculously late - hopefully I'll do a better job next weekend...

Steve W. said...

Argh! How did I fail to notice this review until now?

cerebus660 said...

I think the previously-mentioned tardiness ( not Tardis-ness ) of my posts might have something to do with it :-)

phantom_tiger said...

This was a pretty good episode. Atmospheric. A bit old school- everyone will probably die-style Doctor Who. Rory was plucky, but he also seems to be losing a bit of his intelligence. This season does seem to be a bit short on fun though.

cerebus660 said...

I'm the only person in my house who actually likes Rory. Everyone else is rooting for the bad guys to kill him off :-(

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails