Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The opening credits rolled, and I involuntarily groaned out loud... as I realised that I was about to sit through 40 minutes of Doctor Who written by the head writer of spin-off disaster Torchwood.

However – let me be clear about this – this time the guy did comparatively okay.

Probably because no-one was allowed to swear or have sex. Amazing what you can write when your limitations are removed, aye?

42 is a fairly pedestrian tale of a spaceship getting drawn into a sun. It's supposed to all take place in 42 minutes, but this is not dwelt upon, so it comes across as more like several hours. I certainly didn't realise it had been in real-time until I found myself pondering what the title had referred to afterwards.

Like most episodes these days, the 40-minute format rushes the story, leaving very little time for explanations or characterisation. The central twist – that the sun was alive – was okay to see again, and the conceit of Martha having to answer several general knowledge questions to save everyone forgivable. That's the most positive spin I can put on it. The familiar lazy plot-device of "because the aliens are thick" this time was "because the humans are thick."

The best element is the Doctor's heroism to save Martha, as he pushes himself to both his physical and mental limits. The scene in which he's screaming for Martha to put him in the freezing machine, to which she's dallying by professionally reassuring him "Just believe in me" is supposed to show her in a good light as a doctor herself, but the prolonged agony that she's causing him makes her incompetent and therefore unintentionally funny. Again, an unwise move to force emotional dialogue into a story where there's just not enough time for it. Something new Doctor Who tries to do rather a lot.

I mentioned that it's set on a spaceship, a very rare move these days for which I would give the script a big cheer, but even with the story taking place half way across the universe, they still managed to set three scenes on Earth in the present-day.

Yep, they really wanted to add-in some more Saxon lines, so Martha phones her mum. Three times. Just like Rose and her mum two seasons back, neither Martha nor her mum has any recollection of the battle that has just taken place in the last episode. You remember – it was with this monster:

Here it's even stated that this encounter must have happened just yesterday, but as expected, none of the five questions that were posed by that episode were even asked.

Dreadful. They should have left this script alone in space.

Finally, this week's zombie was a sun-zombie.

By the way, GREAT episode-title.

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