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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.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
bookzombie
Feb. 24th, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
I agree that the Divergent Universe run was extremely disappointing. None of the stories were really up to scratch, frankly, and it was a real 'good idea wasted'.

It does pick up again in the next run, though still not up to the early Eighth Doctor/Charley stories; C'rizz never really comes together as a consistent character.

It's interesting how some of the audio-only companions work better than others. I think Erimem, for the 5th Doctor and Peri is a delight, as is Evelyn for the 6th. Not entirely convinced about Hex (7th & Ace) though.
(Deleted comment)
nwhyte
Feb. 24th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
As with all of these things, reasonable people can disagree!

I guess that by 'religion' in the above statement I was closer to the 'church' end of the spectrum covered by that word, rather than the 'belief' end. I agree with you that RTD does explore faith and belief rather well. Did you know that David Tennant's father was a senior official in the Church of Scotland?
arwel_p
Feb. 24th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
I've never really got into Doctor Who audios, but just out of interest, did "Caerdroia" have anything to do with Troy? The title just jumps out at me since it's the Welsh name of the city...
nwhyte
Feb. 24th, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
We're told it means "the fortress of many turnings" in Welsh, rather than a reference to Troy. That may or may not hold water...
arwel_p
Feb. 24th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Hmm, well "troi" = "to turn" so it could be a cod etymology, but "many turnings"? Naah! :)
strange_complex
Feb. 24th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
I take it none of these would be on the list - but could I possibly ask you to recommend a top three (or more, if you feel they deserve it) Eight audios? I ask because I (mainly) enjoyed his version of Shada, and have since heard scraps of The Stone of Venice and Human Resources on BBC7 and liked those too. Plus I found I generally enjoyed the experience of Doctor Who via audio, and Eight's adventures have the particular appeal of being the only way of getting to know this Doctor beyond his single screen appearance. But I have no idea where to start, and it's clear I need to be guided away from the turkeys!

Thank you in advance!
nwhyte
Feb. 24th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
I really liked the others by Alan Barnes: Storm Warning, where he first meets Charley; Neverland, which takes hem to Gallifrey; and Zagreus, the 40th anniversary story, which brings in Romana, Leela and various other actors from Classic Who and the Big Finish stories playing various parts. The other two I particularly enjoyed were Stones of Venice and Invaders from Mars; haven't yet got to Human Resources as far as I remember!

Edited at 2008-02-24 01:59 pm (UTC)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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