Modern Re-Capitulation steps back into the fray with a story from Series 3 which was quite experimental in its own way. And therein lies the problem, at least with fans. Even for a program renowned for versatility in format and tone, it’s important, perhaps imperative, to continue to push the boundaries from time to time to see what works or, as often, what doesn’t. We wrote about this before concerning Sleep No More and will do so now with 42.
Whereas Sleep No More dallied with a ‘found footage’ format, 42 tried to do a story in real time. Given that constraint, you know in retrospect that there’s not going to be a lot of character development in evidence, also that by necessity, the Tardis crew must arrive immediately into a crisis situation. There’s nothing inherent in these built-in constraints that would preclude 42 from working well. And in legendary director Graeme Harper, whom the Tour will never have a bad word said about, and who highly values pace in a story, 42 certainly has the right director and looks great as a result.
But the extraordinary urgency thumping away at the heart of 42 is for us here at the Tour, what ultimately works against it. It’s exhausting. What’s more, especially for long-term memory fans, is that the central plot turn has been done in Doctor Who before in Planet of Evil, which is a highly underrated story.
What’s more Planet of Evil and 42 also suffer from a peculiarly similar fate. They both ran during very, very strong seasons (Season 13 for the former, nu-Who Series 3 for the latter) which ultimately shines a brighter light on neighboring stories than themselves. We rated 42 at the bottom of out Series 3 evaluations at the time. Nearly ten years on we’re not looking at 42 harshly, but we still maintain a distance from it. The new caps for 42 are lovely however.
The next time Modern Re-Capitulation convenes promises to be an absolute disaster. That’s encouraging isn’t it?