Review: Doctor Who – Human Resources (parts 1 and 2)

Human ResourcesThought I’d wait until both parts of the story had aired before reviewing this one. Then I thought I’d wait until I’d fixed my iPod, but I’m still waiting on a part off eBay (£10) – which seemed a better plan than getting Apple to fix it (£169) – so what the hell, I listened to it off my Mac directly. No obstacle can get in my way when I put my mind to it. Go me!

Rather than a rip-roaring, undeniably impressive two-parter to match the season opener, Blood of the Daleks, Human Resources was a reasonable, slightly dull, but flawed ending to Paul McGann’s first set of original Doctor Who plays for the Beeb. With the return of another old-series monster, the Cybermen, we might have hoped for more, but you can’t have everything.

Plot (upgraded from the Big Finish web site)

Lucie Miller’s been headhunted to join the staff of Hulbert Logistics, a respectable blue-chip firm in Telford. Great prospects, competitive salary – you don’t have to be mad to work here! But wasn’t she made for better things, like travelling by TARDIS through time and space? The Doctor, meanwhile, has been fired – into a confrontation with the most terrifying of enemies…

Is it any good?

It suffered a bit from the standard Big Finish problem of too much humour and a plot that’s nothing too special. Balancing humour and horror is one of those tricks the old series of Who used to pull off quiet nicely. But Big Finish tends to err on the side of silliness. Here we had a load of people, smuggled off to an alien planet, to file bits of paper. Except, of course, the paper filing was being used for warfare.

The word we’re all looking for is oh…kay…

The Cybermen turn up, everyone’s a little frightened, but not really; there’s a lot of warfare, but no one really dying. The Headhunter who’s been chasing after Lucie has in fact been trying to get her back to the office; except, of course, it’s not Lucie everyone’s after, it’s someone else.

The whole story-long Headhunter arc has been a case of mistaken identity and the Headhunter really is an ineffective office bureaucrat. Just like the Time Lords, of course.

Don’t you just long for the days of villains who were truly evil and frightening, rather than just a bit mundane?

There was one good idea: the Quantum Crystalliser (or something similarly named). Roy Marsden was great. But one good idea and one good performance can’t lift a whole play out of the ordinary.

So if you don’t listen to it before it comes out on CD, save your pennies and get Paul McGann’s better Cybermen story, The Sword of Orion (it’s not that much better, mind).

As a whole, the season’s been okay. Sheridan Smith has been a memorable companion, if a little too Peri-esque in the level of bickering. Paul McGann’s performance has been variable, but good on the whole. The big names in the guest cast have been uniformly excellent, even if the minor players haven’t. The plots haven’t really yielded any memorable villains or monsters and there’s been a little too much silliness. Not bad over all, though, and certainly the best thing BBC7’s done for a while.

Listen to the episode (RealPlayer – only until Sunday 25th February 2007!). You can buy it on CD from the Big Finish web site from June (part one) and July (part two). You can listen to Windows Media trailers for parts one and two as well.

Cast

The Doctor (Paul McGann)

Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith)

Headhunter (Katarina Olsson)

Hulbert (Roy Marsden)

Straxus (Nickolas Grace)

Jerry (Owen Brenman)

Karen (Louise Fullerton)

Malcolm (Andy Wisher)

The Cybermen (Nicholas Briggs)

Writer: Eddie Robson

Price: £10.99 (International £11.99)