Monday, July 9, 2012

The Chimes at Midnight


This is brilliant.

There.

Now go and listen to it.

Written by Rob Shearman The Chimes at Midnight feels like a someone has spliced Doctor Who, Upstairs Downstairs and Sapphire and Steel together. Then sloshed a gallon of black comedy into the mix before finishing off with a dash of social commentary and a smidgen of philosophical thinking about what it means to be alive then shaken it all together and come up with this delightful piece of work.

It has a wonderful creepiness to it tempered with a nice life affirming ending, particularly if you're in something of a dead end job.

Having seen Rob Shearman talking about The Space Museum on the DVD release it seems that the first episode of that story definitely has an influence on the first episode of this one. Charley and The Doctor seem to be somewhere and not be somewhere. Has the TARDIS jumped a grove on the LP that is space and time. (For the youngsters among you an LP is....oh look it up on Wikipedia, that's what it is there for)

It turns out that they've walked into a paradox. The servants in the house keep dying in ridiculous circumstances - which everyone keeps claiming is suicide, even if it can't possibly be suicide - when the clock strikes on the hour. There is something disturbing about the ticking and chiming of clocks. Perhaps it is that they're soundtracks to your mortality. Counting down - or up - the seconds. Tick-Tock...

It turns out that Charley, who as we all know by now, should have died when the R-101 went down but was rescued by the Doctor. She should be dead, but isn't. Her death led to the suicide of Edith, the scullery maid. It is Edith who is the centre of the paradox and having seen Charley alive when she is supposed to be dead has found herself asking questions about whether she is dead or alive. The energy from this paradox is doing weird things to Edward Grove...who may or may not be alive...but certainly doesn't want to not be alive. 'He' wants to be something and somebody. The only way 'he' can do that is to make poor young/old Edith feel like nothing and nobody and then live off the repeating deaths of the household like a temporal vampire.

Right. I hope you've all got that.

Louise Rolfe plays Edith. She manages to make Edith sound just right. A combination of weariness and dignity. It's a lovely little performance and rather moving.

Paul McGann does another excellent job breathing more life into the Eighth Doctor with each story. The Eighth Doctor seems so...young and excitable. Peter Davison with a little more va va voom...or David Tennent with a little less self-satisfaction. It makes you wish he'd been given a proper run on the damn television.

Best of all though is India Fisher's Charley who plays her confrontation with her own death and the forgetting of the Doctor wonderfully. It's a shame we're unlikely ever to see Charley in the flesh but then if we started down that road where would it end? A 50th Anniversary episode with Frobisher. (And yes I'd like to see that too.)

This is brilliant.

There.

Now go and listen to it.

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