or “Robot mummies vs sweating gelignite

… being a show-by-show TARDIS-esque (ie in effect random) exploration of Doctor Who Soup to Nuts, begun at LJ’s diggerdydum community, and crossposted at FT.

Lovecraft meets Von Daniken in the (ok quite long) shadow of the 1972 King Tut show at the British Museum (which my family went to London to see, but didn’t bcz the queue was so long): in an isolated Victorian folly in 1911, surrounded by excavated Egyptian relics, a MITEY and EEVIL ELDER GOD WHO HATES ALL MORTAL LIFE (viz SUTEKH aka SET aka SATAN aka the TYPHONIAN BEAST) has been semi-unleashed, and is attempting via minions to complete the process: only 4 aka BB and SJS can save the universe. Will they succeed? Now read on…

i: i believe this is the first follow-on adventure — on the way back to 1980 from the far distant and the planet of evil, the inteprid pair are hijacked by radiopulses from the Edwardian era and have to stop ANOTHER all-powerful alien escaping its prison; a meme-repetition that perhaps explains why they are so tetchy with one another — BB is in a foully sarcastic mood throughout, nearly as contemptuous of sentimental human frailty as Sutekh, and SJS twitchily goads him and snipes: since this means NO JELLYBABERY this is a plus; actively and deliberately dislikeable BB is an improvement on the DR SuPERTWEE of relentless memory…
ii: as in the later Fang Rock, the planet/universe may be saved, but none of the locals are. Egyptologist Marcus Scarman is an animated corpse from the very first moments, when we see him open a tomb and encounter some AWFUL; also unsaved are his butler; his befezzed organplaying sidekick; his friend Dr Warlock; his boffinish brother Lawrence; a local poacher; and the house itself.
iii: Lawrence is an excellent and unusually sympathetic character, by turns stunned by events, excited by future technology and time-travel, and confused and unhappy at what’s become of his brother, which he refuses quite to believe (creating at one point an unused set-up: he gets his zombie brother briefly to recall who he was before he died; you assume when BB is later mesmerised — tho not killed — by Sutekh that he will be reminded of his true self by SJS… which doesn’t happen
iv: nice moments = mostly relating to the poacher, really — he has to watch out for mantraps and stores unstable gelignite in his shed!; the sonic screwdriver is FOR ONCE used non-magically, to unlock a forcefield by overriding an ultrasonic signal; there’s a brief slightly hurried appearance of the “truthtelling guard, lying guard” logic puzzle when they arrive in the martian pyramid (singular not plural, despite storytitle) — nice if goofy idea that the Osirians would leave the health of the future universe guarded only by a sequence of Crystal Maze-esque puzzles…
v: for the thousandth time we learn the hard-won easly-lost wisdom that MINIONS AREN’T THAT BRIGHT! Sutekh himself is held in some time-locked pyramid chamber in egypt, controlled by a radiopulse from mars. He has a certain amount of mindpower — can control zombies and suppress bomb explosions — but essentially they bumble around failing to get anything done right. This is why democracy is better than tyranny DO YOU SEE. (Actually it is and since Sutekh has been stuck in a companionless hole for millennia without television, it’s maybe fair enough that HE hasn’t discovered this…)
vi: And so to Sutekh, who is rather terrific, courtesy (a) the mask and (b) Gabriel Woolf’s voice-performance, all quiet-spoken casually sadistic malice and suppressed rage. Terrific as long as he doesn’t take his mask off — the Osirians may have cerebra in the shape of spiral starcases, but they are not a daunting race to look at :(
vii: Besides well-worn horror-tropes, S has forgotten anything he knew about physical form, apparently — possibly because thought-control isn’t relativistic, timewise, where radiowaves and just plain walking are. BB nips across space to convert the short timetunnel into a fatally long one; Sutekh will die before he gets to the exit. In a way, this is as deflating, after the epic techno-mythic nonsense, as Wells’s Martians being defeated by germs — but it too is a long-established TV/Who notion: that it’s the small things that count.

Plot-wise, the victory of the forces of good is a matter of luck — the TARDIS was deflected to the scene; the poacher has SWEATY GELIGNITE — as much as strategy, but when this is combined with the edgy bad temper of our heroes, it’s a weirdly potent mix. It’s scrappy, inelegantly structured, cliched, and not exactly profound. But I did enjoy it.