The Doctor’s Smile


Watching “Mummy on the Orient Express” seated on a train certainly adds something to the experience. Glancing up nervously from my Ipad and down along the carriage, the only descending numbers I can see, fortunately, are those of the seats and the only figure heading inexorably towards me is the smartly dressed ticket inspector. Most appropriate, methinks, as tonight’s episode was just the ticket!

The Doctor smiled. He beamed the most radiant smiles, when Clara decided to stay on board. He looked almost cute. After weeks of his grumpiness, unpleasantness and debatably nastiness, those smiles were worth their weight in gold – rays of light shining through the Doctor’s hardened veneer. This week I was able to like my hero again. It’s not his fault that this incarnation has a grumpy, grizzly exterior. It’s just a shell. We have to look deeper. It’s still the Doctor. A brand new regenerative cycle is traumatic – and enough to put anyone in a bad mood. Let’s hope that the Doctor’s personal story arc allows us to watch him mellow even more. 

In the Eleventh Doctor, Moffat handled a young Doctor more successfully than JNT did with the Fifth. Now it seems that the current showrunner is attempting a modern version of the Sixth. If Capaldi’s Doctor has truly mellowed and keeps on smiling, I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

But what of the episode itself? Well, it put fans back behind the sofa. On a train, I feel somewhat limited. I think if I venture behind my seat, I will find some wrinkly legs there and the little old lady, who they belong to, might have something to say about it. And, armed with handbag, she looks more fearsome than the mummy himself, so I’ll stay put. 

How I would love to be a kid again to watch this episode – I would have been scared out of my wits, whenever the countdown appeared on the screen. The monster was chilling, and what’s more, easy to copy in the playground. An obscure reference here, but as the mummy put his hands at the sides of his victim’s head, he reminded me of “Doomlord”, the pointy-eared alien from the Eagle comic in the Eighties. He was my playground favourite. As a child, I always wished that Doomlord would face off with the Doctor.

The pacing and direction of ‘Mummy’ were masterly. Moments of tension were mixed in with tender, emotional moments. The sets were designed well, SFX top notch and the lighting atmospheric. 

Frank Skinner was Frank Skinner and as I like Frank Skinner, his performance was fine. And if nice Frank Skinner likes the Doctor, then that means Number Twelve must be a nice guy too.

I love seeing the Doctor dressed up. Last night’s attire would have been more than acceptable as his permanent outfit. It’s hard to imagine that this is the same Doctor as the scruffy one we saw in ‘Deep Breath’, scrabbling around in the dirt with a tramp.

I’d never heard of Foxes before. I wish we had heard more of her song. Now I’m crossing my fingers that the singer can act. If our beloved Jenna should actually leave for good, then we would have a more than acceptable replacement in Foxes. A potential new Billie Piper in the making.

As my train reaches its destination, it reminds me that we are heading towards the end of this series. The countdown is ticking. But the way things are going, Series 8 will be considered one of the greats and will be remembered with nostalgia. It is performimg well in the ratings. It is on TV at the right time, nice and late, when it is dark outside. We have an excellent actor in the lead role. These are the good times. So let’s just enjoy them. 

And if this Doctor can smile, after all he has been through, then so can we!

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