Doctor Who #939: Mutant Copper

"I'm gonna start wondering if they're just too dumb to be dangerous."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired May 10 2010.

IN THIS ONE... Human DNA in a CCPC creates a goofy goodie robot Thorne wants destroyed.

REVIEW: Mutant Copper really highlights the problem I have with the CCPCs. Namely, that between their Cockney accents and electronic distortion, they are nearly incomprehensible. The DVDs' lack of subtitles isn't helping either. So "Birdie", the good-natured, innocent CCPC might as well be R2-D2 for all I get from him. Thank God he doesn't become a permanent member of the team. My other problem with these guys is the show's definition of "cyborg", making it interchangeable with "robot". The introduction of "human DNA" in Birdie's brain (uhh...) means these morons are usually true robots, despite being different heights, etc. Because K9 occasionally calls himself a cyborg as well, you might assume "cyborg" means a self-willed robot, but the reason Birdie goes rogue is that he's damaged and can't receive instructions from the Department anymore. In other words, the CCPCs don't have free will. It's all a bit of a mess, but don't worry, the production doesn't use "mutant" right either.

The one interesting thing about this set-up is that K9 becomes an advocate for cyborg-ness. It's a neat twist. If Birdie must choose between being human or cyborg, the humans all think his humanity must be protected. And that's the stance most sci-fi heroes take in this situation. K9 finds it insulting and speaks up for his "kind". Unfortunately, the program doesn't do much with it, partly because Birdie is an annoyingly silly character we don't care about, and partly because K9's snide remarks about emotion don't track well with his ongoing exploration of his emotions, many of which is shows in this very episode (including his creepy laugh).

The other guest star has more potential. Jorjie turns her romantic triangle into a square by allowing fellow silver spoons subversive Marcus into her inner circle. Maybe she's hoping to make Starkey jealous, but he's still pretty clueless. Darius perks up, of course. And maybe she actually likes Marcus in that way. Unfortunately, he betrays her trust (once again, Philippa Coulthard shows she's the best actor in the cast). In fact, he's exactly the kind of faker Starkey initially thinks Jorjie might be, willing to sell the cause out for a Department job. While the final confrontation between the group and Thorne isn't particularly grounded in reality, I do like their using Marcus' subversive hobby to undermine that betrayal. He gets a shot at restoring Jorjie's faith in him and fails. Ah well. Back to pining for Starkey, I guess.

- Has its moments, but focusing on the ridiculous CCPCs sink the whole enterprise.



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