10 Worst Ideas In Doctor Who History
Doctor Who was a staple of British television throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties before its cancellation, and has dominated ratings since its return ten years ago. That’s four decades of television, over eight hundred episodes: a current smash hit show that’s run for so long that ninety-seven of the older episodes have actually been lost for good, vanished in the mists of time.
With all of that, it’s not particularly surprising that this venerable science fiction family show has occasionally not lived up to its own lofty standards. Any Doctor Who fan can reel off a list of the stories that didn’t cut the mustard, the serials that didn’t deliver the goods, and filler episodes are an occupational hazard in a show with that much history.
But then there’s the terrible ideas… the high (and sometimes low) concepts that were doomed from the drawing board, that make fans the world over question what on earth they were thinking. These are some of the worst ideas in the history of Doctor Who.
10. The Lazarus Mutation
Apparently Russell T. Davies requested that Stephen Greenhorn, the writer of season three’s The Lazarus Experiment, go for a Marvel comics’ style plot: “a good old mad scientist, with an experiment gone wrong, and an outrageous supervillain on the loose.”
The finished result is certainly all that, but there’s one major flaw to it: the mutated vampiric scorpion-creature that Richard Lazarus mutates into is terrible. It’s not necessarily the fault of the production design: the look of the thing isn’t particularly iconic, scary or weird, but it’s certainly serviceable enough to gel with the episode’s central conceit. No, it’s the execution, which is something that should have been very predictable from a production standpoint: the computer generated creature is diabolically ropey and looks like a bad video game monster.
Given the budget and the time constraints on a production like this in 2006/2007; given the sheer amount of interaction required in the script with human actors; given the scale that the creature was required to work on and the level of detail involved in grafting a version of Mark Gatiss’ face onto the thing; someone should have informed Davies at the pre-production stage that CG was a bad idea. That same someone should have pointed out that the same issues of scale and interaction would make a practical effect (a costume or a massive prop) equally unworkable.
Fundamentally, the script needed to be passed back and the monster retooled to work with the limitations that Doctor Who was dealing with at that time. It wasn’t… and The Lazarus Experiment is what we’re left with.