0 REM This is my review of one of Big Finish's latest audio plays;
10 PRINT “Hello world”;
20 PRINT “Didn't you love the Colin Baker years of Doctor Who? ”;
30 PRINT “No?”;
40 PRINT “Okay. They were mostly rubbish.”;
50 PRINT “If you didn't, you're not going to like this, I can tell you”;
55 PRINT “because it's very much like a typical Colin Baker story”;
56 PRINT “except it doesn't even have Peri in it.”;
57 PRINT “What's the point of a Colin Baker story without Peri in it?”;
58 PRINT “Particularly one with Gyles Brandreth instead?”;
60 PRINT “More to the point, however, is that”;
70 PRINT “the play's about as exciting”;
80 PRINT “as reading computer code.”;
90 GOTO 100;
Plot (digitally uploaded into your brain from the Big Finish web site)
In the 32nd Century, the Doctor finds himself on a planet piled high with discarded computer technology. Picking over these remains are an army of Scandroids, a collection of unsavoury, illegal Data Pirates and a team of researchers from the mysterious Lonway Clinic. This is a world of organic-digital transfer and ‘personality surgery’ which the Doctor finds disturbing enough, until something far more deadly starts to emerge.
Is it any good?
At its heart, there are some interesting ideas concerning brain alteration, personality as software and so on. The trouble is it’s so very season 22 – minus Peri, unfortunately. It’s dark but not deep, silly when it should be clever, and every episode ends with Colin Baker screaming/yodelling.
Opportunities to have massive identity swaps and different actors playing each other are foregone in favour of
YOU DO NOT HAVE A DIGITAL DATA PORT. BUFFERING…
I remember that phrase because it occurs seemingly ever fifth line of dialogue. And there’s more like it: “Of course, I rigged the module so that if you loaded it, you’d have to load the other module…”.
You don’t feel like you’re listening to an audio play. You feel like you’re listening to someone read out the instructions to edit the registry in Windows XP. It’s just wretched.
We do have a plethora of guest stars to somewhat redeem things. Gyles Brandreth is surprisingly not awful although there is a touch of junior school play about him at times. Helen Atkinson Wood is instantly recognisable and makes a brave stab at a thankless role(s). And Sara Griffiths, who played Ray in McCoy’s Delta and the Bannermen and was briefly considered as a possible companion instead of Ace, makes quite a good conscienceless space pirate, although not a terribly frightening one.
All in all then, not one to save your pennies for. However, in a first for Big Finish (I think), this play comes with another play, Urgent Calls. I haven’t listened to it yet, so I can’t tell you absolutely whether the double CD combo is worth ignoring. But at the moment, it’s not looking promising.
Listen to the trailer (Windows Media format)
The Doctor (Colin Baker)
Claudia Bridge (Sara Griffiths)
Doctor Marriott (Gyles Brandreth)
Ms Tevez (Helen Atkinson Wood)
Scandroids (David Dobson)
Lake (Kerry Skinner)
Gabe Stillinger (Joe Thompson)
Denise Stillinger (Natasha Pyne)
Writer: Eddie Robson
Director: John Ainsworth
Price: £14.99 (International £15.50)
Available from the Big Finish web site