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The Time Museum, The Masters of Luxor

It's been a sad time for Who companions recently, with several untimely losses and rumours of illness for others. But meanwhile William Russell, who turns 88 next month, is still going strong, launching the new series of Companion Chronicles from Big Finish with The Time Museum from the ever-fertile imagination of James Goss (who is the only Who author on my buy-on-sight-even-in-hardback list). The story has a long-retired Ian Chesterton in a peculiar alien environment being challenged to remember details of his travels with the Doctor, so long ago; its tone is elegiac, sinister and affectionate all at the same time, which is an achievement. If you're at all a fan of those first two seasons of Who, you'll enjoy this.

I am not sure I can say the same for The Masters of Luxor, Anthony Coburn's obscure script (which I read a while back) now brought to life by the rewriting skills of Nigel Robinson and the voices of William Russell as Ian and the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as Susan and Barbara, and Joe Kloska as everyone else. I'm not at all a fan of Robinson's other work but, presumably with input from Lisa Bowerman as director, he has done his best to make the original script sing - it is very slow, with the Tardis crew not meeting anyone else until the second episode of six, and the only significant guest part not showing up till episode 4. There are lots of blatant circle narratives - run away, get locked up, repeat. The entire story would barely fill a single episode of New Who. The cast give it their all but it's not fantastic material in the first place.

If it had been made, this story could have gone either way. Given decent design and direction, it might have been remembered as a classic. But it's a high risk piece; the special effects needed are challenging (giant pyramids, three types of robot, the Tardis flying through the air) and might have absorbed directorial time from preparing the actors; we could have been looking at a reputation more like the Sensorites.

Actually, of course, if the story had been shown as originally planned, there would have been no Daleks and probably a little later no more Doctor Who. So it's just as well, really.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
I had seen pictures of William Russell, who is on tour with his youngest son, Alfie Enoch (of Harry Potter). I would very much like to see them return as Ian and son--or grandson, as Barbara is a bit fairer of complexion than Mister Russell's wife.
Oct. 30th, 2012 06:55 am (UTC)
Also, given the age gap, grandfather/grandson would be perfectly plausible on screen.

Have you heard the Big Finish plays where they did the opposite? Paul McGann's son plays Susan's son in future post-Dalek invasion Earth, so his real father is playing his character's grandfather.
Nov. 24th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
Agreed: I really, really, REALLY hope Ian appears in the 50th Anniversary episode. Even if just in a cameo. Nothing would make me happier.
Nov. 24th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
Listened to Luxor this week finally. Was really looking forward to it; was kind of disappointed. Although it's always fun to have a "new" Hartnell adventure - voiced by two of the original actors, no less - the script was the major weakness, and I can see why it was rejected (unlike the stellar "Farewell, Great Macedon). Coburn really doesn't seem to have understood the narrative pacing of a six-parter, and the plot is both all over the place and interminably slow. Bunch of great ideas, but not executed very well; it really does seem like a very, very early stab at sci-fi.

I have a question for you though, since you've both read the original script and have listened to the audio. The writer & crew mention that one of the changes made in adapting the original piece was to downplay or remove the religious matters, as they felt this would be "inappropriate" for a modern audience. I think that's a bit of a shame; as a "Lost Story" it's already an artifact out of its time, and would have been interested in seeing that how such a theme was casually layered in as well. Did you notice the difference when you listened to the story? Do you remember which bits were taken out or changed?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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