Thursday, October 25, 2012

Immortal Beloved [8th Doctor + Lucie Miller]

You know I'm not sure if I like this or not.

It's a lot of talk based around a really interesting take on how to achieve immortality and its consequences so kudos to writer Jonathan Clements for that. I also like the fact that the ending flags up the temptations that still exist for Kalkin (Anthony Spargo) and Sararti (Jennifer Higham) even after apparent victory.

Plus it is rather lovely how the Doctor and Lucie start of the story interfering and then are gradually shown the true state of affairs, which angers and disgusts them in equal amounts (although the Doctor's begrudging admiration of the ancient technology involved is in character).

It reminded me in little ways of 'State of Decay' but without the Vampires. Zeus's method of achieving immortality less bloody but equally horrible in its consequences. Or at least it is to some. To others it is a privilege and an honour.

So all that's good but there is a lot of talking.

It helps that the cast is pretty damn good. Ian McNeice makes Zeus a genuinely threatening figure without the need to raise his voice too often. He's charming when he needs to be and willingly takes on the Doctor's arguments. He's also got a great voice for audio.

Best of all though is Elspet Gray as Hera. She manages to sound (initially) rather sweet but businesslike: the sort of tones used by Miss Marple that leads people to totally underestimate her. But then - and it is best shown in the scene between Hera and Ares (David Dobson) that takes place in the garden - there's a cold, ruthless streak beneath her and then realistically afraid when she seems about to die, again. It's brilliant acting.

Which - with a leap of total illogic - brings me on to one of my problems with this story: Kalkin and Sararti. It isn't the actors, who do a fine job. It's the fact that they are rather annoying young lovers. I suppose I'd be more forgiving if they were Romeo & Juliet so perhaps I'm being grumpily harsh but I did find myself wishing they'd stop being so...loved up. I think because their love is supposed to be the key to exposing the inhumanity of Zeus's method of immortality my lack of sympathy for them rather limits things. I suspect this is just me. But these are my views and I'll stick to them for now.

I should also mention that Paul McGann's son, Jake, makes an appearance here as Zeus's favourite Ganymede. It's very sweet. As is McGann's obvious pride on the CD Extras. Aw. (I must be going soft in my old age. I really must stop it.)

The setting is great to. The way that the 'Gods' talk about technology in private but have given primitive names to various pieces of modern technology is rather amusing.

 Having said all that - and it is mostly complimentary - I still feel vaguely unsatisfied. Once more, like with 'Horror of Glam Rock' there seemed to be a distinct lack of threat or tension. For all the Doctor and Lucie's involvement (and Sheridan Smith is exceptional here I think) it does almost feel like they're observers rather than anything else. The Doctor is a good moral voice here but there's no real oomph.

That's my problem.

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