There is no doubt that the plot of The Lazarus Experiment was COMPLETE rubbish. Science in Doctor Who doesn't always make sense, but there's usually enough hand-waving to cover plot holes. Lazarus is a little too free with the information though, so the cracks really do show. You've got sonics used to rewrite a man's DNA so that he becomes younger (which DNA doesn't really play a part into), but that inadvertently turn him into a totally alien monster that can drain energy out of a human being and that is apparently an option rejected by evolution but still locked in our genes. This option:Of course, absorbing energy turns you back into a normal human, without so much as a scar, and you can reverse the effects of the experiment by playing music really loud (it's all about the sonics, you see). Add a lot of running around in corridors, a few senseless deaths, and a rubbishy monster (only CGI instead of a rubber suit), and you've got a recipe for Classic Who, and not very good Classic Who at that.
So is The Lazarus Experiment rubbish? No, not really. What makes New Who work, for me, is the character moments, and this episode has plenty of that. Whether that's giving Lazarus a psychological motivation dating to his childhood, or the characterization of Martha's family that'll have you clamouring for more Tish, it keeps you interested in the characters. Plot be damned, that's what I tune in for anyway.
The episode isn't about a man who would be immortal but turns into a gross DNA monster. It's about Martha joining the Doctor as an actual TARDIS crew member. THAT'S what it's about.
It's a great moment when she refuses to go on "one more trip". She won't be the token companion. She's in it for the long haul or not at all. That, as much as sitting the Doctor down in Gridlock, defines Martha for me. She's gonna be a companion on HER terms.
And that's not to say that I wouldn't rather have good characterization PLUS good plot, but the former keeps the show afloat at the very least. I know a lot of people are down on the 11th episode of each season - the "calm before the storm" episode - but I really enjoy Boom Town and Fear Her (and Love & Monsters) which are character-driven pieces. The low point of each season for me has come at the midpoint, usually in spot #7: The Long Game and The Idiot's Lantern, which had, in my opinion, too few moments of quality for the regulars. I don't think "42" (Series 3, episode 7) will be like that, what with the return of Captain Jack, so is Lazarus that low point? Time will tell, but if it is, it's a higher low than previous seasons'.
Other thoughts on The Lazarus Experiment:
-Was I the only one who thought of Doctor Octopus' experiment gone wrong when the Lazarus machine started spinning around?-Lazarus is played by Mark Gatiss, who played the Doctor in several comedy sketches and has more than a passing resemblance to Peter Davison (the 5th Doctor) now that I look at him. He's of course better known here as the writer of The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot's Lantern. This casting distracted me for some reason...
-The Doctor meeting Martha's mother was highlarious! Open mouth, insert sensible running shoe.
-I'm not sure what Saxon was whispering to her at the end, but his quick first scene was much creepier than the entire Gatiss monster A-plot. If anyone doubts that Saxon is the Master, just know he financed Lazarus Labs and then ponder this wall graphic:
Now tell me that doesn't look like Gallifreyan writing!
-The Ghost of Rose: Finally replaced for good, there's little mention of her. The Doctor does speak about the curse of immortality and seeing everyone you care about die, but that's as much about Gallifrey as anything.
-Scene I could have done without: Tish all of a sudden incredibly willing to snog Lazarus. She's no opportunist if she really means it when she said she found someone nice... conveniently forgetting the sexual harassment bit earlier.
-Favorite line: "You have an extraordinary perfume. What is it?" "Soap."
-That trailer! Oh my Lord! Covering the second half of the Series rather than the next episode alone, it's gonna take us two weeks just to decipher, analyze and postulate about it all. Which happens to be the exact amount of time before the next episode of Doctor Who. Gaaa!! See you then!