Doctor Who #931: The Curse of Anubis

"It's Renovation Rescue, Anubian style."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.15 2010.

IN THIS ONE... Aliens that look like Egyptian gods treat K9 as their great savior... and also look to enslave the planet.

REVIEW: As far alien invasions go, the Anubians' is almost obnoxiously tame. There are exactly two of them, and invade one whole house (Gryffen's, obviously). There are apparently no more aboard their craft, because Darius gets in there (yes, Darius is the "hero" of this one) and he doesn't seem to meet opposition. Very little action indeed. But at the same time, the Anubians are a special treat for Doctor Who fans because they obviously have ties to the Osirans from Pyramids of Mars. Not Osirans themselves of course - nowhere near as powerful as Sutekh - but the Egyptian theme is unmistakable. K9 apparently met them on an untold adventure with or without the Doctor (see Reference Watch), but their history book has a shot of the (original) tin dog flying into space on his own power. Embellishment? The Anubians are certainly disappointed with their hero when he fails to side with them at the end. But it looks like it's their fault for distorting their own legend.

At the heart of this placid episode is the interesting notion that the K9's (and more importantly, the Doctor's) travels have unintended effects on cultures. In this case, K9 helped free the enslaved Anubians from their overlords, but the peace brokered didn't last. Unfortunately, the Anubians became slavers themselves, "freeing" various species from whatever kept them subjugated (for Earth, it's the Department), but making then serve their culture instead. Not sure the motives track too well, but it works if you gloss over it. Similarly, I'm not sure I buy Jorjie suddenly mistrusting K9. A more pointed question is whether Starkey has forgotten his mission to free society from the Department. Has he gotten comfortable in the Gryffen household and lost his rebel spirit? As usual, the show throws these ideas out there, but doesn't give itself time to explore them.

Instead we get a second round of zombies in a row, these ones in Egyptian drag. Your mileage may vary, but K9's costume is pretty funky. I like Jorjie as L'il Cleopatra too. Prof Gryffen loses all his dignity in that much eye make-up. And there's the matter of Darius who is still an insufferable character. He's such a flippant jerk to both K9 and the aliens, you really don't want him to be the episode's hero. His talking car (it talks now?!) Mariah would make a better recurring character. And what, he parks the invisible (kind of invisible... not really invisible at all) ship somewhere in the sky where it won't be found? Until something crashes into it, I guess. Darius: Rhymes with useless.

WHO REFERENCE WATCH: The Anubians' book shows them subjugating a number of alien races, including clear look-alikes of the Sea Devils, Alpha Centauran and Mandrill (a Jixen and a future episode's aliens too). Doesn't all make sense, but they're winks to Who continuity, not really meant to be those creatures. One page also has a blue TARDIS-shaped object, which is the only evidence of the Doctor's presence on that forgotten story (and he almost needs to be because K9 met them in the far past). Some may think K9's big Egyptian collar is a call-back to the Time Lord's.

The Egyptian theme plays well and there are a number of fun winks to Doctor Who, but yeah, rather low on incident.



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