“Space, is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. If you hold a lungful of air, you can survive in the total vacuum of space for about 30 seconds. But with space being really big and all, the chances of being picked up within that time are two to the power of two-hundred-and-sixty-seven-thousand, seven-hundred-and-nine to one against. Strangely, this is also the telephone number of an alien space and time vessel that was lost when it got sick of its pilot constantly blowing up inside it every few years. Though this ships is lost forever it is comforting to reflect that it is, in some small way, commemorated by the fact that twenty nine seconds later, The Doctor and her companions were, in fact, rescued in time for this weeks………
Once again we start by focusing on everyone but The Doctor which may be a problem considering how many complaints I saw about it last week. Fortunately we don’t have to wait long for, unfortunately it does seem that she has managed to get rescued by a completely different ship that Ryan and Graham. Either in a massive effort not to loose them or just not to be beaten to a new alien world she decides to catch up by crashing what remains of her new ship, borrowed off Shaun Dooley (also from Broadchurch interestingly enough) on top of them. With everyone back together at last they find that they’ve managed to gatecrash the final stage of the intergalactic Dakar rally. Their rescuers are the last two competitors and the finish line is a strange, old, British, police box.
Of course it wouldn’t be much of a race nor an episode of Doctor who if it was a simple jog down the street with a pit stop for tiny plastic cups of water. Though what do you expect for a planet called Desolation? For the planet has flesh eating water, harsh deserts and a killer litter problem and that’s not mentioning the killer robots lying around the gun range that our main cast couldn’t walk around. For it seems this planet was an alien testing ground for killer weaponry. So stuck following an odd couple who have the only copy of the map and are dealing with being either a walking cliche of a grumpy, loner who is destined to learn the importance of friendship and teamwork by episodes end or our token sympathetic alien lead who is there to pad out her resume and the episode. So after bigging up her team for trying to get the row boat working before muscling in and taking over and leading them into a shooting range The Doctor digs out the whole guns are universally evil speal we always used to get which the anti-pen knife stance we got last week means that humanity is down to a spork to defend itself from all these alien invasions she keeps leading our way.
We also get our first clunky bit of foreshadowing bit of exposition to “foreshadow” the finale though at least it’s not trying to be “clever” like the last guy. Other than this the episode is decent though not spectacular. The cgi is quite dodgy thought I like to think this a loving homage to the wobbly sets and recycled gravel pits so I’m content to give this a pass. The basic plot was decent enough though I felt they could have worked the whole race aspect into it a bit more otherwise you could have swapped them out for two bickering archeologists and not noticed the difference neither of which I feel are going to be remembered too long after the end of the week. Also while I commend the pacing of this weeks episode with less of a pull it out of your ass feel than has become associated with the show in recent years it felt like they were struggling to fill the last few minutes. Had the Tardis been there waiting for them then fie, it’s rather ho hum kind of ending to the episode it would have been better than pretending other wise. Heck I wouldn’t have even minded being wrong about them getting the ship back this week if they had wanted to spin it out into some kind of season long plot thread. Maybe having the race organiser half hinch the thing to cover the cost of paying for the winnings. Instead Chris just pads out the ending by acting like for some reason the ship won’t show up before (SPOILER WARNING) having it show up. There isn’t even some attempt to make us worry with techno-babble gobbledeegook. As for the old girl she’s had her customary redesign and while the outside can be argued about by people far nerdier than I; the inside is not the best she’s looked but far from the worst and I think that extends to just the new run of Who never mind the whole thing. They’ve kept some of the cod steampunk aspect but tried to blend it with a really alien design and while I don’t hate it I’m very far from sold on the whole thing. Overall this is a passable episode that feels like it was designed to look good in the series trailers with sweeping shots of the scenery and fill out the episode count.
Next week we’re going back to America to help the DVD sales abroad and we’re also going back in time.