Doctor Who: Mummy On The Orient Express – The Spoiler Review by John Rivers (TV review).

October 14, 2014 | By | Reply More

‘Mummy On The Orient Express’, the eighth episode of the eighth series of ‘Doctor Who’ saw the Doctor and Clara take a trip on the world’s most famous train… in space! If you haven’t seen the episode then I suggest you check out Geoff’s review here: If you’ve seen the episode, then by all means read on and start the clock…


Once again, ‘Doctor Who’ proves you can take an old idea and put a slightly different spin on it. Gone are the wireframe skeletons of Sutekh’s Michelin-Mummys, this was a zombiefied, undead nightmare and ripe for scaring the living daylights out of Janet Henfrey as Mrs Pitt, reminding us that her turn in ‘The Curse Of Fenric’ was some 25 years ago. Shot with a blurry, is-it-or-isn’t-it-there dream-like approach the Mummy or the Foretold was as nightmarish as they come for ‘Doctor Who’. Stalking towards you as a countdown clock ran in the corner of the screen emphasising that the attack and forthcoming death were as inevitable as the Doctor’s quipping, ‘Are you my Mummy?’


Tense, gothic, entertaining, this season suddenly seems have swallowed some Hinchcliffe tablets and is riding high on the belief that it’s season 13 or 14. After years of being promised this, it feels like the show has finally found the right balance. For a start, the leads have rediscovered their chemistry after the last two stories tested their relationship. Clara (Jenna Coleman) being bright and thoughtful, reverses her earlier decision about not wanting to be with the Doctor. The Time Lord, for his part, has learned to behave again, even if he didn’t know the true nature of what lay onboard the space train in a moment that harks back to him receiving one of Gus’s calls at the end of ‘The Big Bang’. Capaldi once again proves what quality he is, pleading with people to describe what’s happening to them as the Foretold finds them and charmingly offering jelly babies from a cigarette case. He also manages to rescue a train full of doomed people, which doesn’t hurt his relationship with Clara.

Meanwhile, he is ably assisted by Perkins, the train’s engineer, who’s played by comedian and arch-‘Doctor Who’ fan Frank Skinner. It’s probably fair to say that dramatic acting isn’t Skinner’s forte, but he does portray Perkins with a sort of helpful positivism. He declines travelling with the Doctor, but that paves the way to a nice one-liner, rounding the episode off. You do wonder though how much he may have known about Gus’ plan being on the train?


The theme of soldiering is revisited once more with the Foretold revealed as an advanced type of soldier, picking off the weakest one by one. Its ability to shift in and out of phase is a smart one, accounting for how only targets can see the Foretold before it kills you. The skeletal face of Death saluting the Doctor was a particularly striking image.

Between writer Jamie Mathieson and director Paul Wilmshurst, they’ve been able to take an ‘And Then There Were None’ structure wrapped in the trappings of ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ and produce a taut piece of ‘Doctor Who’ horror. Some might argue that the inclusion of Foxes’ rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ (a reference to both the Foretold and Clara’s volte face on adventuring in the TARDIS) and countdown clock may seem a little gimmicky, but they both moved what might have been another period looking drama into something altogether different and very entertaining.

The episode also asked a lot of questions. The identity and nature of Gus, as voiced by John Sessions, could become a new adversary for the Doctor, perhaps more Blofeld than Moriarty? That remains to be seen, otherwise it’s full steam ahead into the final five episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ 2014.

© John Rivers 2014

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