Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Four Eighth Doctor audios

I have rather run out of enthusiasm for the Eighth Doctor stories, which seemed to me to start very well and then go into a bit of a drag. These four, from late 2004, were the last "new season" presentation before the TV series was revived; I look forward to finding out if a change of format helped.

The other over-riding problem I have had with the Divergent Universe story line is that, if the entire setting is a put-up job by powerful alien scientists, and if our protagonists are in the habit of waking up to find that it was all a dream, it becomes quite difficult to care about what is happening.

Faith Stealer demonstrates one of the weaknesses of Doctor Who as a framework: it's not very good at exploring religion. You either get deluded/brainwashed cultists or comic Anglicans in funny costumes. Faith Stealer, to its discredit, has both, and the lame joke about the Doctor and company being members of the Tourist faith is compounded by the inane scene with the Church of Serendipity. Some decent bits of character development for C'rizz, but McGann's Doctor seems to have lost interest, as had I.

The Last was a real low point in a disappointing run of audios. The idea of a crazed dictator refusing to admit the war has been lost is potentially a good one, but why on earth do her advisors not simply remove her from power (in so far as power is still a meaningful concept in such straitened circumstances)? In the real world that is what happens. In any case, it turns out not to matter, as everyone who dies comes back to life at the end of the story; essentially it was all a dream. McGann sounds really bored here, especially when addressing the shades of Katarina and Adric, and I can't blame him.

Caerdroia was the best of this run. McGann seems to be back into it, and indeed playing three different versions of his own Doctor is surely a stretching experience. The initial mental battle between Doctor and Kro'ka is a good scene too. The baffling streetscape of the shifting city, rooted in Lewis Carroll and Franz Kafka, is also well portrayed. It doesn't all make a lot of sense, but I found it a welcome up-tick in quality.

I'm afraid I felt that The Next Life was the first miss I've heard from the normally excellent Alan Barnes. Not that it was actually all that bad, just really far too long, six episodes of over thirty minutes each. I would have trimmed a lot of the first two episodes, where we have Charley and C'rizz yet again experiencing a dream environment (though with a welcome return from Anneke Wills as Charley's mother); it seemed to take an awfully long time to get to the point.

I did like Daphne Ashbrook (= Grace in the TV movie) in her role as Perfection, and the instant chemistry between her and McGann brought back memories of the early Eight/Charley days; almost a foreshadowing of School Reunion, with Charley playing the jealous newer companion. And C'rizz's back-story is filled out adequately, though unfortunately I haven't come to care enough about the character for this to make a lot of difference (and Paul Darrow didn't seem to be up to par either). Plus at the very end I liked the fate of Rassilon and the Kro'ka. But really it could have been done much better in half the time.
Tags: doctor who, doctor who: 08, doctor who: audio
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