Friday, November 23, 2012

Dead London [8th Doctor + Lucie Miller]



The second season of 8th Doctor and Lucie Miller adventures by Big Finish begins with this delightful little story. It begins with the Doctor in court, arrested for parking the TARDIS on a double-yellow line, and Lucie off shopping somewhere. Simple enough to deal with. Except this is Doctor Who, so nothing is simple.
This isn't a stable London. This is a timey-wimey jumpy London. 21st century one moment, 17th century the next.

In the end, of course, it is even more complicated than that. The final twist in this production is the only thing that I didn't like. It shook my suspension of disbelief by being just a little bit too silly but I shall say no more for fear of spoilering you all.

The jump from time zone to time zone and the profusion of strange - and occasionally dangerous - characters makes for a certain confusion that helps build up the story's rather fine atmosphere. Oddly reminding me of the scenes within the Matrix during the Ultimate Foe segment of the Trial of a Time Lord with a dash of the War Games thrown in for good measure.

Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith settle back into their respective roles with aplomb with their banter much less acidic than it was in Season One. Now that the Doctor has accepted Lucie on board voluntarily, rather than having her foisted upon him by Time Lords with an agenda, he's much more his usual friendly self. His concern for Lucie throughout is rather lovely.

The Doctor palls up with Spring-heeled Sophie, a funambulist and thief with dreams of heroism. Clare Buckfield does an excellent job of bringing Sophie to life and in another time and place you could see her joining up with the Doctor. There's also a nice turn from Katarina Olsson as Yellow Beryl, a 1917 Munitions worker. Olsson has an amazing ability to sound completely different in almost every story she plays for Big Finish. She was totally unrecognisable here, even though I'd listened to her in the morning playing The Headhunter in 'Human Resources'. It's rather impressive.

The villain of the piece is a reptilian gentleman called Sepulchre (and his avatars). Played by Rupert Vanssitart (General Asquith in the Eccleston story, 'Aliens of London-World War Three') who also does some fine voice work. He has a fairly recognisable voice does Mr. Vanssitart and although we are meant to know it is him at each stage he changes it enough to make it interesting. It's a good bit of stuff.

Fundamentally it suffers from the similar issues to the first Lucie Miller season in that the tone and jeopardy are rather light but when it is as fun as this it doesn't really matter.

My quibble is all about the ending and why the Doctor just leaves everyone where they are as opposed to returning things to normal. It seems a little cold. He doesn't even offer to take Sophie away. It just doens't feel quite right.

Tis but a quibble though. This is an enjoyable story and well worth a listen should you get the chance.


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