purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
[personal profile] purplecat
People compare Mark Gatiss who stories to the Pertwee era surprisingly often to my mind. I think he's on record as saying it's his favourite era of the show and it's true his stories tend to have a straight up monster or villain but the Pertwee era is typified, I would say, by the presence of overtly political themes (absent from Gatiss') work and a fairly sparse and functional approach to setting where Gatiss' (possibly because of his interest in Victoriana) tends towards the Gothic. In fact, apart from the fact Gatiss doesn't borrow from Horror tropes, I would have said that the Hinchcliffe era was a better point of comparison.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, no matter what the rest of the Internet might think, I can't really imagine Empress of Mars in the Pertwee era.

People are going to point to the Peladon stories at this point, but while they do feature Ice Warriors and attempt to provide moderately complex societies for the various factions, they frankly lack the whimsy of Jules Verne style Victorians in space.

I liked this. I thought the premise was a lot of fun and I'm surprised that Doctor Who hasn't tackled this sort of Victorian Scientific Romance setting before because it is the sort of thing that ought to play to its strengths (amusing, high concept, the costume people will be good at it). I loved the incongruity of the Ice Warrior as Man Friday, and liked the idea that the Ice Warrior was playing into the human's prejudices while using them for its own ends.

I'll confess I was a little confused by the ending and may need to watch it a second time to see how the parts all fit together. I can follow the general idea of how matters are resolved, but didn't really understand why the Empress was suddenly brought around by Godsacre's request for death. I also didn't quite feel they joined the dots between Godsacre's flight proclaiming cowardice and his sudden reappearance at the pivotal moment at the end.

The reappearance of Alpha Centauri was fun. I know there are some people out there who disagree with me but they're clearly wrong. I thought it was handled just right - we didn't see enough of the costume to realise how ridiculous it was and while it was a lovely nod to the original series it wasn't so heavy-handed that it would confuse new viewers.

This is, I get the impression, the episode that Gatiss has always wanted to write and I think it shows. It is having a lot of fun, telling a ripping yarn, and manages to feel both like a Doctor Who story and like a Scientific Romance.
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