Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Horror of Glam Rock [8th Doctor + Lucie Miller]

From Red Rocket Rising to a Motorway Service Station somewhere on the M62 in 1974 filled with passing rock bands and their roadies, staffed by the unflappable Flo (Una Stubbs) and besieged by some rather unpleasant creatures with dinner on their mind this is Lucie Miller's second adventure with the Doctor and a rather good base under siege story.

There's another fine supporting cast. The aforementioned former Aunt Sally, Una Stubbs. There's an excellent turn from a post-PC Tom Campbell, pre-Wilfred Mott Bernard Cribbins (as Arnold Korns, Manager of Rock Bands). There's Clare Buckfield as Trisha Tomorrow. Trisha is, with her twin brother Tommy, one half of Arnold Korns' latest find, the Tomorrow Twins. Off on their way to London for Top of the Pops and super-stardom.

Tommy Tomorrow is played by Stephen Gately. Yes, that Stephen Gately. The ex-Boyzone Stephen Gately, which is something of a surprise. He gets to do a bit of singing (and the full song is an CD extra, alongside a glam rock version of the Doctor Who theme tune.), a bit of stylophone playing and a bit of acting. He's not bad, He's not asked to do too much and what he does do is fine, although you do wish his character wasn't quite so naive (or stupid, depending on your kindliness) but his character is key to what happens in the story.

The last, main character is Lyndsy Hardwick as Pat. Pat's stuck at the services having been part of band that's just split up but that's not quite all she is. (Dodges spoiler)

This is a Big Finish story you can imagine being made a New Who story, even down to the villains who are the audio equivalent of New Who CGI ethereal beasties. The Doctor's victory is achieved in fun fashion.

My only complaint would be that you never really feel the peril. A couple of peripheral characters gets torn to shreds, cars get smashed, aliens pontificate and there's the horror of a stylophone but apart from that you never feel there's any real danger here. The single episode sixty minutes seems to fly by and everything gets wrapped up with almost minimal effort. It feels like a training exercise for the Doctor. At no point do you ever wonder if they're going to escape, just how. It's as if Paul Magrs, who wrote this, doesn't want to kill anyone off, which in one way is to his credit. He's obviously a nice chap. But a bit more grit would have been good.

O and the fact that everyone seems to take everything that is happening to them far too much for granted. It's as if Monsters and Time Lords meet on the M62 on a regular basis.

But all that seems like quibbling as in truth the whole thing is entertaining nonsense of the best Doctor Who kind. 'Horror of Glam Rock' does its job and in Una Stubbs and Bernard Cribbins gives two lovely actors a chance to strut their stuff.

Mostly harmless.

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