Doctor Who #812: Secrets of the Stars Part 2

"People used to say, Martin, you are not the centre of the universe. It turns out I am..."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.27 2008.

IN THIS ONE... Trueman's live TV broadcast puts each sign under his control, but Luke doesn't HAVE a sign. (Called it!)

REVIEW: Not only does Luke not have a star sign and is therefore immune to Trueman's star power, but he's also invisible to the Ancient Lights and can interrupt forecast destiny. AND his touch can free people from the Lights' control. Well! Where was he during The Masque of Mandragora? The Doctor could have used his help. I don't mean to make it sound like it's objectionable deus ex machina. His abilities actually play as a mystery and surprise, something that must be figured out, not a rabbit knowingly pulled out of a hat. I might complain that there's an awful lot of zombification in this episode, as Trueman calls each sign in turn, but at least, writer Gareth Roberts matched signs to the right people so they would be affected in a particular order. Sarah Jane and Rani's dad last (Taurus), so they can witness the problem without falling prey to them; Rani close to the end (Aries) so the turnings can act as a ticking clock; and Clyde and Gita among the first (Gemini) to create danger and jeopardy from the first. I guess the characters match their signs well enough. I'm no expert.

Nevertheless, there's a lot of padding in this one. The entire episode is more or less a third act, with repetitive action on the villain's part, until he's defeated. And then it's the epilogue that just won't end, each scene a little cloying in its all's well that ends well. The only character that doesn't really get a happy ending is Trueman himself, although that's debatable. Are you conscious when you're turned into stardust? Is he gallivanting with Astrid Peth out there, or is he being tortured by the Ancient Lights? It's sad that he would choose this living death rather than return to an ordinary life. Some people just can't accept they weren't destined for greatness, but we can't all be, right?

One last note: I like how Sarah Jane knows very well what it feels like to be possessed, and can empathize with Clyde. "Eldrad MUST life," and all that.

- On a nuts and bolts level, Roberts gives us a fairly well thought-out adventure, but it feels like it came out a little short.



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