“Gnaws” Review

The episode would have got away with just being exceptionally dull, if it weren’t for the ending. It’s clearly a cost-saving episode, set mostly in the sewers (studio) but the plot, concerning a potion which can cause organisms to grow very quickly, requires a giant rat – and naturally, a pet in a model is employed. It’s cheap, it looks horrible1, the incongruous sound design makes it a hundred times worse, and when you’ve seen it, it’s the only thing you can remember about the episode…

The potion is developed by rogue scientists, going private with tech from the ministry, where they stage a break-in. Purdey looks at the safe: “Radioactive. Could be dangerous.” It’s a safe…

There’s another of these 1 year jumps in the narrative at the start, and it’s not clear to me whether that means the giant rat – the result of washing some potion down the sink – grew over 12 months or almost instantly. Either way, it’s somewhat implausible – and inconsistent, since with their tomato plant: the fruit is enormous. The plant is not. But if the growth of the rat it is faster than the normal life cycle of a rat, where does the mass come from? It’s Kill the Moon all over again…

So when there’s something strange in the sewers, the obvious response is CALL IN THE SPIES! Naturally, on discovering there are bags of grain in the sewers, Gambit assumes them to be ballast for a lightweight buggy developed by the Russians. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

There is, however, a Russian down there (Jeremy Young’s third and final appearance). Because the Ruskies like to hang out in the sewers, but they’ve lost people to the rat, so they suspect counter-espionage… But then, with the level (remarkably studio-like) floors, capacious headroom and ELECTRIC LIGHTING these seem to be pretty comfortable sewers to hang out it. The only thing they don’t have is any flowing sewage.

Given the desirability of the sewers, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that the scientists have a large raised access hatch directly to the sewers IN THEIR LAB. As you do…

How did this get made?


  1. well, it looks rather cuddly actually, which is worse 

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

Leave a Reply