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Egyptian Mummy

Doctor Who's Not-So-Classic Moments By Tim Harris

See also: My Favourite Doctor Who Stories

Egyptian Mummy

Introduction - This is a collection of thoughts relating to bits of, or whole, Doctor Who stories that, for me, don't particularly rate as classic moments in the series' history.

In the same way that casting Ken Dodd, Hale & Pace, Faith Brown and Bonnie Langford in 1980s stories does not intrinsically indicate pantomimic elements creeping in as a result of the BBC's reluctance to allow then-Producer JNT to move from Doctor Who onto light-entertainment programmes, it is not only 1980's Doctor Who that had spectacular failures, but boy, there were quite a number.

Although a large chunk of stories below are from 1980's Doctor Who, this only infers that the production team were attempting new and different ways of expanding the format of the series and met with both success and successful failures along the way.

- William Hartnell -

The Edge Of Destruction

A 2 part story that feels longer than many with a higher episode count.

Two episodes of pointless arguments and a potential homicidal stabbing incident involving a pair of scissors could have been avoided if only the Tardis had had a decent enough error message system in place at that time.

Extract taken from the Doctor's 500-year Diary: "Yes, yes, I really must remember to install an aut, aut, er, hmph, automatic, yes, that's it, automatic error message for avoiding major catastrophes, oh dear dear dear! Dear me, no more poppycock from that scamp Chesterfield about leaving things on the console. Closeted, cloistered fool, hmm, yes, cloistered, yes, that's what I'll call it, the Cloister Bell! Ho ho, Cloister Bell indeed!".

The Chase

The Daleks go to the trouble of creating a robotic double of the Doctor that doesn't look anything like him and fools nobody but his myopic companions of the time.

- Jon Pertwee -
The Time Monster

This was the first story I watched that seemed to outstay it's welcome long after the budget ran out and long after the 100th long and terminally dull lab scene. I would cite Terminus and Ribos Operation as even more boring stories than this but they do everyone the favour of being two episodes shorter than this one.

- Tom Baker -
The Ribos Operation

This is just about a jewel robbery isn't it? I am right aren't I? Just a jewel robbery?


The whole 'Doctor-Versus-Giant Prawn' escapade of The Invisible Enemy and 'Doctor-Versus-Giant Squid' escapade of The Power Of Kroll are put into perspective when compared to this story's 'Doctor-Versus-Cactus' plot.

- Peter Davison -

An interesting, but heavily disguised Eastern-style sorcerer Kalid is revealed to be the predictably-dressed, predictably-giggling Ainley Master, the purpose of which is never explained and which renders that purpose about as useful as a Plasmaton.

Warriors Of The Deep

Having apparently met the Myrka before (no he didn't), the Doctor fails to explain to the Sea Base crew that the best way to survive it would be to walk away from it at a steady pace (no need to run) and that in no way should they go right up to it and poke it with a gun as this would ensure their death by electrocution.

The Myrka probably just beats the tall, bald, skinny rubber chicken that appeared in Arc Of Infinity as worst Doctor Who monster ever.

I'm fairly sure the Doctor Who series Bible doesn't say "When all else fails, get a character to kick-box a pantomime horse in order to achieve a great death scene". This death just pips Kylie Minogue's 'Death By Falling From Fork Lift Truck' (as seen in Voyage Of The Damned) as silliest death in Doctor Who ever.

Having previously told Jo Grant that the Silurians should have really been called Eocene's, the Silurians make the mistake of calling themselves exactly that: didn't they read their history / science books? Likewise, the Sea Devils obviously liked being referred to as Sea Devils in their previous encounter with the Doctor and adopted the name.

Having forgotten that the third eye in their head was useful previously for killing (and opening doors), the Silurians now boringly use the 'third eye' in Dalek copyright-breaching use for showing which one is talking at any one time.

This batch of Sea Devils, having woken up from millions of years in suspended animation, don't bat an unlikely eyelid when, within minutes of awakening, they are expected to wipe out the latest dominant species of Earth: I'm fairly sure if I woke up to this news I'd be saying "Whoah there little guy, back up a little, what's this about a new dominant species? Who are they good buddy? And when's lunch? I'm starving like a new born baby Myrka! Union regs and all that...".  Sea Devil Warriors: now who were they meant to have appeared as warriors to all those millions of years ago anyway?

- Colin Baker -

The Twin Dilemma

Take two twins, for instance the ones who appeared in this story, then realise that they can't act, then replace them with ones who can. Nope, didn't happen.

You can't help thinking that, whilst previous story Caves Of Androzani had a lot of grit, the only grit this camp story could hope for would likely be found at the bottom of the birdcage the bird-like Jocondans probably inhabit.

The Two Doctors

Having successfully re-created his role of the 2nd Doctor in The Five Doctors, the production team immediately felt it would be great to get Patrick Troughton back for a story in which he would have rice crispies stuck to his face, bushy eyebrows, a silly hair do, the chance to camp it up and the chance to play at least two different characters from the one the audience expected him to actually play i.e. the Doctor. His Doctor is sadly missing from this story.

The setting of the story is crucial to the cast / production team enjoying a week or two in the Spanish sun but it in no way enhances the story. 

Far from the days when a Sontaran taking his helmet off could make kids run for cover behind the sofa, the director for this story concluded that a long shot of a Sontaran ambling along in the sun would have the same effect, which it didn't. 

Instead of the usual 'Doctor-Meets-Doctor-For-A-Fun-Adventure' story, we get a visually gory, rat-eating, blood licking, cannibalistic themed horror story with a nasty stabbing murder that somebody forgot was going to be shown at tea-time on a Saturday. 

In the same way that blood / violence / gore is gratuitously laced throughout the story, the shot of Nicola Bryant in a bikini top is gratuitously wasted by use of a long shot.


I never knew that the sight of tinsel could induce such fear in fictitious TV characters. 

Continually running up and down the same corridor easily explains the fact that none of the unhappy populace ever found or attempted to storm the Borad's lair until the arrival of the Doctor and Peri. 

Like everyone would, the disfigured Borad fakes the image of an old man for the frightened populace and has a clone of his real disfigured form in reserve in case one is needed to be killed as a sacrifice, to bluff the enemy before ending up as the Loch Ness Monster, it happens everyday. 

As per Caves Of Androzani, Timelash has a disfigured bad guy lusting after Peri: get to know her first chaps, the whiney voice and whingeing'll soon change your minds about her. Haven't you suffered enough as it is??

Possibly getting his own back, Paul Darrow out camps Colin Baker in much the same way that Colin Baker out camped Paul Darrow when he appeared in Blakes 7. Fair's fair. 

I like this story by the way.

Trial Of A Timelord

Nicola Bryant's Peri and Brian Blessed's Yrcanos getting married?! Never! It's impossible to believe, even when you take into consideration that this only happened due to JNT's decision to give everything in 'Trial' a 'happy ending', that anybody so over the top, bolshy, loud and overbearing would end up with Brian Blessed's Yrcanos.

- Sylvester McCoy -

Time and The Rani

Having evaded the Rani's exploding man-traps to reach the Pleasure Dome, the Lakertians' Pleasure Dome is invaded by Tetraps armed with guns who threaten the Lakertians with death by killer insects if they refuse to wear ankle chains that will kill them if they ever disobey. Eh? How many ways to kill a Lakertian? Many. There are almost more ways to kill a Lakertian than the number of Lakertians there are left to kill. 

Bonnie Langford's character Mel screams her way through the story in exactly the same way I scream my way through the scenes where Kate O'Mara impersonates Bonnie Langford. 

We get to see Sylvester McCoy's rendition of the rare art of playing the spoons and not only do we get the chance to see this in part one, we get the chance to see it again in part two. You can have too much of a good thing you know, but seeing too much of a bad thing is just rubbing it in. The reason it's a rare art is because people don't want to see it, let alone see it twice. 

In terms of deaths the score equals Tetraps 1, Lakertians loads. This explains why nearly all the bad guys survive / escape at the end of the story, probably optimistically (but unrealistically) looking forward to a return appearance.

Silver Nemesis

The Cybermen's plan to destroy gold-strewn Voga in Revenge Of The Cybermen as a matter of self-preservation seems a little pointless when they have little defence against gold coins catapulted at them by a teenager from Perivale. 

In no way should anybody concerned with the production be embarrassed by the use of a poor Queen impersonation before being embarrassed at the duplication of the same plot as Remembrance Of The Daleks from the same series. 

As the Cybermen wander unnoticed around the countryside after having slaughtered a bunch of policemen, you can't help wondering if their cricket-gloved hands will be practical for handling the bow and arrow they're so keen to find. 

A witch from the 17th Century has no trouble in getting to the 20th Century but feels the need for a lift in a car once she's there. Like the Cybermen, Lady Peinforte also feels the need to wander around the countryside and encounters two thugs who, to be fair, don't look out of place hanging upside down from the tree they'd taken their acting lessons from. Gripping stuff indeed. 

Cybermen phrases such as "You will be deleted / upgraded!" and "You will become like us!" convey menace in the same way as "Give me the bow!" doesn't. 

The story was made to *celebrate* 25 years of Dr Who, *snigger*, and is all the funnier for it. Don't get me wrong, I get a lot of enjoyment out of this one, I've watched it many times. The extended version which is sadly not available on DVD simply extends the enjoyment.


Ainley's Master puts his ambitions of would-be universal dictator (as in Logopolis) on hold to referee a motorbike competition in Survival

Nobody in the production team seemed to notice that Will Barton cannot act, in the same way that nobody realised that an animatronic toy-looking black cat probably couldn't menace a toy mouse let alone the audience. 

The appearance of Hale and Pace in a cameo role was very welcome as it was exactly that, a cameo. 

For some reason the playground scenes looked as if filmed by amateurs; hmm, perhaps it is a little unfair to say that as most scenes in this one looked as if filmed by amateurs. 

I enjoyed the end speech of McCoy's though: however, there's a lot to suffer before that gets heard.

- David Tennant -

Fear Her

A gripping, claustrophobic story set in a dark Victorian house encompassing a girl whose drawings trap people within them, with the threat that her wicked dead father could all-too frighteningly come back from the dead at any time, would have been good: 'Fear Her' is, however, a cheap story shot in a modern, brightly decorated un-menacing two up, two down semi in London. 

The chance for such a gripping story set in an old house having been laid to one side, the chance for a scene involving the Doctor carrying the Olympic torch to the 2012 Olympic Games is a natural successor.

Army Of Ghosts / Doomsday

"Welcome to Torchwood" exclaims Yvonne Hartman as she flamboyantly opens the double doors for the Doctor. "Is this it?" surely thinks the Doctor as he sees an ordinary warehouse-type set up complete with empty cardboard boxes. Not even interesting cardboard boxes. Mind you, are cardboard boxes ever interesting? No. Disappointing.

The Genesis Ark, what a build up to that one too. What could be in it? What could the four Daleks of the Cult of Skaro possibly have hidden away inside the Genesis Ark? Davros? The Emperor having survived after all? Some new wildly amazing Dalek-created menace? Nope, just more Daleks. CGI ones at that. Bad CGI ones at that. Disappointing on any level. Not Davros then?

"Before the war.." says Rose Tyler in her introduction, hinting that big battles were to come. Well, that's what war suggests to me anyway. Some soldiers, a bazooka, a car & Cyberman blowing up, a bit of action in and around Canary Wharf, that's a war? Disappointing.

Cybermen that were excellent in their previous 2-parter now come across as wet-paper-bag residents when up against the Daleks. Disappointing.

The warehouse scenes are, in particular, (as) flat (packed) as the (un-flat-packed) boxes that appear in them. An unusually flat Graeme Harper-directed production overall. Except, except, that the last 10 minutes of 'Doomsday' are excellent, beautifully written, beautifully directed, beautifully scored. The surprise appearance of the already excellent Catherine Tate was very welcome too: I thought "Yes!" but then with the next thought I mused that "Oh, but she won't be a companion..." so I felt disappointed at that thought at the time.

Overall I think that this 2-parter lacked the effects (budget?) to go with the imagination that fed it: the underlying story is good but the execution of it is an 'ouch' moment for what has been a triumphant return of the series from 2005. Oh well, a not-so-good Dalek story out of so many isn't a bad feat over 45 years, there's always likely to be another Dalek story, the next one could turn out to be a classic.

Definition of 'disappointing' as used above: Disappointing by Doctor Who's standards. Doctor Who is still the best series on television by all standards.

Daleks In Manhattan / Evolution Of The Daleks

The Daleks, having tired of using human Robomen and ape-like Ogrons as enslaved servants, go to the trouble of augmenting Manhattan down-and-outs into pig-headed slaves: no idea why. A tip to story writer Helen Raynor; just because Russell T Davies says it's a good idea to use pig imagery within a Dalek story doesn't mean he's always right

The idea that the Daleks should leave the protection of their invincible body armour would have probably led to the Emperor Dalek regretting his great 'Thinking-Outside-The-Box' idea for the Cult of Skaro. Did Dalek Sec take him too literally? 

In Doctor Who Confidential, story writer Helen Raynor stated that she had to choose which building to use as the backdrop to the story: one wonders how long it took her to choose the most recognisable, iconic building in the world for the Manhattan setting, the Empire State Building.

Voyage Of The Damned

The Doctor and Astrid look at each other, the Doctor screams no! and Astrid plunges with the forklift truck to her death, having sacrificed herself in order to save the Earth. Now, I like a good laugh as much as anybody else but this is one of the silliest deaths to ever grace the screen, big or small.

Voted No.1 Greatest Death Scene ever to appear in Doctor Who, by Doctor Who Magazine (No. 393 dated 2 APR 2008): life'd be boring if we all agreed on everything.

Matt Smith
Victory Of The Daleks

The Dalek progenitor thing won't recognise Dalek-looking Daleks as Daleks but will take the recorded words of an alien curly-haired boy who says that, they are, in fact, Daleks. Eh? Then the new, out-of-shape, lacking-in-detail, Dapol-emulating toy-looking Daleks, who didn't accept those Daleks as being real but who then take the word of an alien that they are real, then destroy those Daleks as being inferior?  What?

Sporting (hardly scary!) multi colours, the new, wrong-sized Daleks look as if produced by somebody who'd never seen a Dalek before. Eh? Honestly, I forgive the pig heads and human Daleks in Daleks In Manhattan over the abuse of the creations in this story.

The themes of 'last of the Daleks' and of Daleks 'slipping back through time' are really beginning to wear out their own clichs now.

I'm still looking for the logic whereby Daleks slip back in time to WWII and think "Let's look up ol' Churchill, infiltrate the Cabinet War Rooms with an android, go in ourselves, make tea for the soldiers and see if that won't get ol' Churchill phoning the Doctor up to come and prove we're Daleks! He's bound sure to be in touch with The Doctor ain't he? Ha, we'll teach that Progenitor device not to think we're real Daleks! And then wait 'till the Doctor sees the all-new Daleks in bright shiny colours! That'll scare the c**p out of him! Victory will be ours!"

I wonder if the armies of the world will use the "You're not a bomb, you're a human being" technique to persuade any deadly devices not to activate?. It's a new one on me and I bet it's not in any manual.

I find it mildly amusing that more time is given to the Cabinet War rooms in the corresponding edition of 'Doctor Who Confidential' than in the episode itself.  It's almost like the Cabinet War Rooms were actually important to the plot *snigger*.

Amy Pond's self-declared staring contest continues in this episode and gives her great practice for the next one where she should not have any problems facing up to the Weeping Angels. Doctor: "Amy, whatever you do, don't blin...oh, no matter!"

You wouldn't think an episode with such a short running time could be so bad but I really wish there was a 'forget' button for this one.

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