The Lazarus Experiment
Written by Stephen Greenhorn
Directed by Richard Clark
Broadcast: 5th May 2007
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”
As with any Doctor Who story especially those of the Nu Who era, there is more than one story happening in any one episode. There’s a story arc that has been working towards the finale of the 3rd series and there are some evident signs. And if like me you’ve watched every single episode a bucket load of times you’ll begin to see them more and more. Take for instance the logo for LazLabs, that dark circle containing a set of smaller circles gradually decreasing in size, where have we seen that before…it’ll ‘ring’ alarm bells shortly!
There are many twists and turns in this episode, so stay awake and try not to miss them, although to be honest, in the entire 3rd season there are a lot of plot twists that will have you exclaiming ‘Woah, didn’t see that coming’, or ‘Oooh sneaky.’
There are many reasons why I enjoy The Lazarus Experiment, and not just because of the many faces of the 10th Doctor. There are some serious glowering stares from 10 in this episode, and being a fan ever since he first appeared on the show, I have to say that many of those ‘melty’ stares as I used to label them as, are in the portion of the story that end at the Southwark Cathedral. But we’ll come back to that later.
Richard Lazarus, a 76 year old professor has created a Genetic Manipulation Device (try saying that with a mouthful of marbles) which has the ability of rewriting the DNA of any person wishing to turn back the biological clock and become 40 years younger.
There’s his benefactor Lady Sylvia Thaw, a representative of Harry Saxon, who has invested money into the research and development of the project. Sylvia believes that she and Richard Lazarus are more than just business partners.
There’s the Doctor and Martha who have arrived back in present day
, 12 hours after the Doctor whisked
them away on their travels somewhere. London
There’s Tish Jones, older sister to Martha, by a year, who is Head of PR at LazLabs and finds the wrinkly old prof a bit of a turn off, despite his advances in her direction, who has invited Martha to the gala event, probably to show off her new job and obviously to see the Genetic Manipulation Device in action.
Then, there’s Francine, Martha’s Mum and a strange man who thinks she should know a bit more about the company her daughter Martha is keeping.
So with the characters in play, at the gala event, let’s crack on with the story.
Richard Lazarus is an old man, who would rather be younger, so he could enjoy life for a little longer. He sees the GMD as the way forward as does Lady Sylvia Thaw, who hopes with its success that they will be able to manufacture many more devices for more people, doubling their profits. At the event Lazarus decides to use himself as the guinea pig in order to show people how the device works and despite a few glitches where it looks as if the machine will explode, he finally steps out as a man 40 years younger with a voracious appetite. It’s impossible for this to happen and leaves Martha and the Doctor with a fair few questions, and an abundance of labs to do a little research of their own.
Lazarus of course believes his experiment has worked but when he tampered with his DNA, he unleashed dormant molecules that began taking control of his body, to the point that he began to mutate. His first victim was Lady Thaw. The sad thing about reversing the age difference meant that the younger man didn’t love the older woman. He couldn’t bring himself to look at her, let alone kiss her. He wanted fresh meat, young love and as his body began to mutate, the lust for life grew. When the Doctor and Martha discovered the mutation in the DNA they had to act fast. Discovering the dried out husk of Lady Thaw, it was imperative that they alerted the guests, who quite frankly believed the Doctor was a mad man and the only thing that the guests were likely to be in danger of was ‘choking on an olive’.
As Lazarus began to mutate uncontrollably, everyone was at risk, even the young Tish who after seeing the younger Lazarus step from the machine, suddenly felt she had a chance of enhancing her career, by keeping in with the boss. Hmmm!
Tish might be the oldest sister but she definitely doesn’t have the brains of her younger sister, Martha. Perhaps travelling with the Doctor has taught Martha a few things, although I do think that Martha had a good head upon her shoulders before she stepped aboard the TARDIS. Tish does begin to come around at the end of the episode but this is the interesting part, which after some extensive research, I began to realise for myself, that the career path Tish was on, had been carefully selected by a mad genius who we know to be a rogue Time Lord with a bit of grievance for a certain mad man in a blue box.
There was one scene with Martha and the Doctor that I felt was a definite nod to the Classic Who and Jon Pertwee, as 10 crouched on the floor of the GMD as they hid from the Lazarus creature that had discovered how to switch the machine on. The Doctor with an array of wires in his hand, shining the sonic over them hoping something would work stating: “Really shouldn't take that long to reverse the polarity. I must be a bit out of practice.”
Are those rings on the LazLabs logo starting to make sense yet?
One of the funny moments from the episode was after Lazarus was taken away from the gala event in an ambulance and the Doctor felt it was time to get acquainted with the rest of the Jones family. Once again, he got far more than he bargained for. Just like the 9th, he had his face slapped. “Always the mothers, every time.”
But my favourite of all, was the scenes involving Southwark Cathedral, and the dark stares of the Doctor as he adopts a sort of James Bond mode with the sonic – it was probably the tux that did it. When he finds Lazarus wrapped in the red ambulance blanket at the end of the building near the stairs towards the belfry and the organ, he paces around him, gauging the man who is feeling hungry again, even more so when he sees Martha and Tish, the camera action in this scene worked on so many levels for me. Top left of the Cover art is what I’m talking about.
This was a great role I felt for Mark Gatiss, who is often the writer of some great Who episodes. He plays his roles well, and as much as I admire and like Gatiss, I really detested the younger version of Lazarus much more than the older gentleman.
“Lazarus. I should have known.” The name Lazarus I had expected to find in Greek mythology not from the Bible. Lazarus of Bethany had died from an illness but was later resurrected by Jesus.
Richard Lazarus had wanted to live indefinitely; he had created the device purely for this purpose. Receiving funding from Saxon for research and development which enabled a rogue Time Lord much later in the series to manipulate a certain laser screwdriver to age a certain Time Lord 100 years older!
If I were to rate this episode out of 10, I’d give it full marks. It was packed full of action, adventure, comedy and deep emotional elements, which were handled in such a way that it didn’t warrant maudlin on the subject.