Published on February 27th, 2014 | by Rebecca Crockett

The Lazarus Experiment Is An Underrated Modern Doctor Who Classic

As with any long-running television show, there are many things that happen behind the scenes and during the course of filming that may not come to light as the episode first airs, but that are later presented as a wonderful look back in the history of the show. Recently the BBC released a few videos about from and about the making of the Series 3 episode The Lazarus Experiment.

In the middle of David Tennant’s second series as the Tenth Doctor, we were told the story of a man who wanted to turn back the clock of human aging and “change what it means to be human.” Richard Lazarus, played by Mark Gatiss, creates a machine that will alter his DNA and cause it to rejuvenate. But, of course, things don’t go as well as he plans, and the situation turns dangerous for the Doctor and Martha, played by Freema Agyeman, the woman he has taken on “just one trip” as a thank you for helping him, as well as her sister Tish, who works for Lazarus, and the rest of their family.

Here we have clips of the Doctor and Martha attempting to escape the monster as well as Martha and her sister luring the monster into the tower of the church while trying to stay ahead of him.

The Lazarus Experiment is one that tends to divide the Doctor Who fandom. Some see it as too reliant on special effects, given that the villain of the episode spends half of it as a fully CGI monster. Some see it as just too far beyond the plausibly believable, which is an element that makes the best science fiction stories as good as they are – they have a basis in some possible reality, even if it is one that is a far off future. This may be especially true given that the episode came right after the 2-part Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution Of The Daleks, which had some rather wild and insane moments. Others however see it for the wonderful, almost over-the-top performance given by Mark Gatiss.

Here we have Gatiss getting into character as the still human Richard Lazarus.

However you feel about it, the episode is an important one in Series 3, as it lays the groundwork for a major plot line for the rest of that series – Martha’s mother’s distrust of the Doctor, their strained relationship, and her family’s involvement in future events. The end of the episode also marks the Doctor’s taking Martha on board the TARDIS as his full time companion.

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About the Author

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Rebecca is new to the Who world, having only recently watched the entire new series in a span of 8 days. She is no stranger to sci-fi though, being a life long Trekkie and has vague memories of seeing the 4th Doctor on US television as a child. When not watching, reading, blogging, or talking about Doctor Who, she is a fan of pop culture and loves movies and books so much she has to keep a list of both so she doesn't forget any of them. She also likes to make attempts at various forms of art including photography and painting. Rebecca is currently working her way through as many classic serials and as many books related to the show that she can find and wishes she could have been with the Doctor and Amy when they met Van Gogh.




9 Responses to The Lazarus Experiment Is An Underrated Modern Doctor Who Classic

  1. avatar Ranger says:

    I love the Lazarus Experiment – to me it is almost like classic Who in it’s themes and quite frankly it has great performances from everyone in the cast

  2. avatar Ian says:

    Um, no. It’s lazily written, generic, boring drivel with a bit of highly dubious, if not outright offensive, hypocritical scientific Luddite morality chucked in at the end. Utter crap.

  3. avatar drewboynton says:

    I’ve been thinking about watching LE again lately. Mainly because Mark Gatiss seems to be everywhere and anywhere! I have to say it’s probably one of the Tennant episodes I’ve watched the least. The Lazarus-scorpion creature at the end is pretty badly done…and looks like a reject from one of the Scorpion King movies. Just thought of this–wasn’t there a mini-controversy about LE when it was being made that a friend of Mark Gatiss said that he came up with the story idea and not Gatiss and had to be paid?

    • avatar castellanspandrel says:

      That can’t be true, as Stephen Greenhorn was the credited writer, not Mark Gatiss, who only acted in it.

      • avatar drewboynton says:

        Sorry, I was thinking of Idiot’s Lantern. There was something about Mark Gatiss getting the story idea for IL from someone else… but that’s all I remember. I did also read that Gareth Roberts suggested the title “IL” for the episode, but I think there was something else behind the scenes about Gatiss writing it.

  4. avatar Joyce says:

    Without getting into detail, it’s mostly poo. Time won’t change that.

  5. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    The Lazarus Experiment is one that I’ve forgotten, to a large extent. Reminds me of The Fly, and I didn’t like that much either.

    It’s got its good points – Gatiss is a decent villain, and the best bits for me, apart from the Francine/Saxon conspiracy element, which adds some much-needed excitement, is the dialogue where Lazarus remembers war-torn London.

    Not in a rush to watch it again, though, and the article doesn’t present compelling reasons to see it as ‘a classic’.

  6. avatar matthewstott says:

    I haven’t watched it in years, but the monster in this one… yikes. It’s difficult to get past, it’s so absurd looking. Also, for me, fully CGI creations are never a good thing in Who. They’re just harder to buy than even a person in a dodgy costume. I liked Gatiss performance, but not much else stands out in the memory about this one.

  7. avatar Elisabeth says:

    I just re-watched this episode, and it was much better than I remembered. Martha is bad-ass, and there’s science, and Gatiss is an excellent villain. The effects may not be great but that’s a pretty ridiculous complaint considering the source! :)

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