The Lazarus Experiment


There’s a point, while watching ‘The Lazarus Experiment’, when you realise that there’s nothing behind the curtain, that the mysterious man who knows of the Doctor is not part of the plot, and that for better or worse, the story is just about the Doctor dealing with a monster.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. With the right monster. ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ concerns a giant crazy monster obsessed with immortality. Not a bad start, but unfortunately it never really goes much further than that. Even worse, it goes backwards briefly, in order to do the same thing again, but in a prettier setting. But let’s get some context.

Professor Lazarus is concerned chiefly with avoiding death.1 With funding from the mysteriously sinister Mr Saxon, he’s running an experiment to turn his body back into a 30 year old. The Doctor isn’t keen on this, because he’s just an intergalactic spoil sport. Also, he can’t understand why someone would be so keen on immortality. He discusses this briefly with Lazarus, but their conversation is interrupted when Lazarus turns into a huge slavering monster and tries to kill him.

The Doctor deals with him. After which, the monster gets back up and has another crack. If I were watching a football game, I’d applaud this kind of behaviour. In a drama? Not so much. It’s as if the writer is so pleased that he can create a conclusion that makes more sense than ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ that he does it again, just to prove he can. I’m not saying the action didn’t need a break at that point in the episode; it did. But why do a standard action finale, twice? Why not do something… interesting?

The chatting between the Doctor and the monster in its more lucid moments almost qualifies, but as nothing actually results from their discussions, they feel like pointless, if sometimes moving, affectations. The whole episode is full of some lovely character moments — as well as some reasonably moving memories from Lazarus, there’s the Doctor’s first conversation with Mrs Jones, the first and last scenes with the Doctor and Martha, and a “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” joke.

If I had to pick one beef I’ve got with new Who recently, it’s that it’s leaning too much towards the action, and not enough towards the adventure. Or, as Lawrence Miles2 has commented recently; it’s just not mental enough. ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ isn’t bad — it’s quite fun and occasionally witty. But it’s a bit average and pointless. This week we have a man who turns into a monster, and the monster… is just a big monster with no special powers or elements whatsoever. It’s just big, and strong, and needs to be killed. Why? I don’t quite get it.

‘The Lazarus Experiment’ is solid, average Who. Once you get halfway through a season of solid, average Who, you can get sick of it, though. I want my special awesome episodes. Please.

  1. It’s a family thing, clearly. Speaking of family things, I miss Jackie. This new mother needs to dial her phone acting down a few notches.
  2. I was going to link to him, but his reviews seem to disappear after they appear.
If you live long enough, Lazarus, the only certainty left is that you'll end up alone. — The Doctor

2 Responses to “The Lazarus Experiment”

  1. Sounds like you’re losing interest in the show.

  2. If it continued along like this then my interest would drop to the level of my interest in Veronica Mars .

    Luckily, I happen to know that episodes eight and nine will in fact be awesome. In fact, I have high hopes for the final six episodes of the season. But it’s still a shame about the first seven.