Doctor Who #929: Jaws of Orthrus

"Only a madman would have that weird smug smile on his face when everybody else is ducking for cover."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.1 2010.

IN THIS ONE... K9 is accused of trying to kill Drake, but it's a frame-up.

Such a frustrating series. I'm (spoilers) going to give Jaws of Orthrus a passing grade (Medium), but like every episode I've felt positive about, the more I stare at my notes, the more that good will drains away. The announcement that kids will soon be "chipped" for example. That seems an unusually on-the-mark issue, relating to GPS trackers in phones and so on. Unfortunately, it's not actually followed-up in the episode. Hopefully later? Drake staging a hit on himself from a dog just like K9 has potential, though the frame-up idea has just been used in The Bounty Hunter, hasn't it? And it's Drake, and all things Drake SUCK. Evil K9, which we'll call Orthrus for convenience, pops some balloons with its nose laser and now we're supposed to think the blast that hits Drake is a legitimate threat? And K9 conveniently loses an hour of memory every time someone hits snooze on his morning alarm, which is the most STUPID convolution to make use believe he might have gone rogue.

On the upside, the way Jorjie figures it out is well handled, or rather, she doesn't, but her instincts lead June to the right conclusions. And the scene shot through Jorjie's closet is the first bit of directorial flare I think we've seen. I also like how Gryffen is used as a wise therapist figure, not all that far from Sarah Jane Smith, helping the kids work out their feelings. He's got a couple of key scenes that flesh him, Jorjie and Starkey out more than usual. Of course, he's also strapped with a strange obsession with capturing old radio signals from the ether - leading to some strange dialog about how 2050 has no radio, though it also sounds like the kids don't have any music to listen to anymore (or no pop/rock music), even if Jorjie has an old electric guitar in her room putting the lie to that - which eventually allows him to disable a CCPC, forcing the silly robot to dance uncontrollably to rockin' tunes of the 80s or whatever. The other CCPC is stopped with a lampshade. If you're not gonna let these fascist robocops be threats, you might as well stop using them, guys. Sigh. But you see what I mean about episodes inevitably letting you down.

Do I want to talk about Darius? Not really. Drake tries to turn him, and in his arrogance, believes he has. But the whole Darius-as-antagonist thing doesn't really work. It's out of focus. Darius distrusts K9 without the help from Drake, and even a full-on attack on his precious car (which is retrospect, can't have been from the real K9, unless the dog's writing skills are as abominable as the Horta's) doesn't actually make him take the wrong side in the end. He's quickly off down the sewers - despite being claustrophobic - leading the useless CCPCs away. It amuses me that Drake and Darius look at each other and say they're looking in a mirror (no matter how disingenuous) because yeah, they're the two worst characters (and to be unkind, actors) on the show, broad and ineffectual "villains". I could do without them entirely.

WHO REFERENCE WATCH: Professor Gryffen reverses the polarity at one point.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I pick at its nits a whole lot, but between this and the previous episode, there's a definite uptick in quality. I'd like it to last.



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