Thursday, November 22, 2012
Human Resources [8th Doctor + Lucie Miller]
With 'Human Resources' the first season of Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller adventures comes to a brilliant close. It is a two part story, which explains Lucie Miller's story in more detail and ties up a lot of loose ends (although one is left dangling rather nicely).
It's not just a good Doctor Who story but it is funny too: the Office meets Doctor Who (intentionally or not) so kudos for writer Eddie Robinson for effectively combining the two. It's not easily done as the humour often over-whelms the non-humorous, especially as (some) actors have a tendency to over-play the comic. Here both the performances and the writing are balanced perfectly.
The story starts with Lucie Miller about to take up the job she was being interviewed for before she met the Doctor at Hulbert Logistics in Telford, although this doesn't particularly make sense to Lucie. The Headhunter (Katarina Olsson) who we've met briefly in every Lucie Miller story so far finally tracked her down and bought her back.
Hulbert Logistics looks like a bog standard small British business but there's some odd things happening. The Doctor, tracks Lucie down, and blags himself a job at Hulbert Logistics. Sitting in on a strategy meeting The Doctor realises that there's more to Hulbert Logistics than meets the eye.
To cut a long story short Hulbert Logistics is cover for a rather bizarre intergalactic mercenary outfit headed by Mr. Hulbert himself (Roy Marsden) using pilfered alien technology and, as Lucie discovers when she gets fired, alongside Karen (Louise Fullerton) they aren't in Telford anymore.
The Doctor, as is his wont, decides to bring Hulbert's rather unpleasent plans to an end but miscalculates when it turns out that the people that Hulbert's latest project is designed to eliminate are [SPOILER] the Cybermen. It is a miscalculation on the Doctor's part and the second episode is spent trying to untangle the mess he's caused (and which the Time Lords (both CIA and non-CIA) have made far more complicated). Lucie Miller was pulled from time as the result of a cock-up. They should have picked up Karen instead. There's Time Lord technological jiggery-pokery afoot too. It's basically a gigantic Time Lord mess. The result, ironically, of Time Lord office politics (effectively).
We get to meet Straxus (Nickolas Grace, who is well-liked in my manor for his excellent portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham in 'Robin of Sherwood') the Time Lord charged with sorting the mess out, without showing the Time Lord's hand.
It all ends rather interestingly, especially in the case of the Headhunter and Karen. Hulbert ignores the Doctor's rather charming warning about working with the Cybermen and joins a long line of Cyberallies that don't quite get what they want out of the relationship. Yes, Tobias Vaughan I'm looking at you.
This is well worth a listen if you get the chance. The performances are universally excellent. McGann is charmingly devious and clever in this story and it is nice to see him go head-to-head with Cybermen, Hulbert and his fellow Time Lords.
I've grown to like Lucie Miller a little more with each passing story and Sheridan Smith does a fine job with both the comic and serious aspects of the part but her comic timing in particular is superb.
This whole season is worth listening to and as an introduction to Big Finish is probably ideal. I've complained a bit about the lack of jeopardy and darkness but I think that might not be a bad thing if you're coming new to audio stories. The season is pretty self-contained. It is also topped and tailed with two excellent two part stories featuring the Doctor's most classic of foes (both of which have a bit of a twist). There's a nice thread of humour through it too, which is good.
I do think - much as I love the darker and deeper stories - that Doctor Who without humour isn't really Doctor Who. Real life isn't one thing or the other. It's not always tragic, it's not always funny. You have both entwined together so it should be with Doctor Who. The key, as in all things, is moderation and balance.
In that sense this story is perfect.
For what that's worth.