You may see it as an unusual choice but The Lazarus Experiment is one of my favourite stories of Series 3. I find it unfair that it’s often marked down for it’s perhaps not-so-good use of CGI when the story itself is actually quite frightening. This story also demonstrates just how good Martha is as a companion as well as bringing out more of the darker side of the 10th Doctor. I personally am also quite afraid of heights, so the Cathedral scenes really left my palms sweaty…
First of all I want to talk about the 10th Doctor and Martha. After the annoying, soppy romance of the 10th Doctor and Rose; it’s nice to have a grown up, intelligent relationship that’s backed up my sterling performances from David Tennant and Freema Agyeman. Also, when we watch it back after four years of the sonic screwdriver saving the day, it’s great to see the Doctor using science and simple but at-least-they’re-understandable solutions. It’s great to see how independent Martha is too and how she is capable of saving the day both by herself and also alongside the Doctor. More on that in future Series 3 reviews.
The Lazarus Experiment is actually quite scary. The cracks of Lazarus’ bones when he’s in the process of mutating, the way he drains people dry with a horrifying squelch, the Cathedral scenes where Martha is hanging on for her life; all of these things (and more) kept me on the edge of my seat. When Martha is holding on desperately to the ledge, the way the Doctor’s organ playing gets faster and louder and higher in pitch is rather clever because it’s makes the audience at home believe Martha is so close to slipping; and that’s scares us.
In this story, we see Mark Gatiss switching from an off-screen role to an on-screen role. Up to this point, he’d only written for the show, however now, he has quite a big acting role. He gives a menacing performance that’s makes Professor Lazarus creepy from the beginning; a good Doctor Who villain. Tish, Martha’s sister, is also a nice touch to the story. It’s great to have a member of a companion’s family that trusts the Doctor from the start. So she didn’t really do much to defeat Lazarus, but if she hadn’t been there, Martha would’ve fallen to her death!
Before I finish, I do have to mention the fact that the special effects of Lazarus made the monster look a bit unrealistic. When you stop believing though, the magic goes and, it wasn’t a terrible monster, just not what we’re used to in an age of Hollywood effects etc. When you look back on Classic Doctor Who, Inferno is a cracking story, one of the best, and yet the Primords were made up poorly with cheap make up; but that shouldn’t matter. Both stories scare me in different ways regardless of the effects and, if you are going to sit there and criticise them for these reasons, then I have no time for you.