Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brave New Town [8th Doctor + Lucie Miller]

Brave New Town, written by Jonathan Clements, is an atmospheric little tale featuring an English village that hasn't changed since 1991 - horrifically they still think Bryan Adams is number one. Being Doctor Who there is more than just dusty shelves in the newsagents to worry about.

It's feels oddly dreamlike this story, which is partly to do with the setting and the situation and - for me - partly to do with Derek Griffiths providing the voice of Jason Taylor. Derek Griffiths has such a calming voice, especially I suspect for people of my generation. He's good in this too as a concerned father who gradually comes to see what should have already been obvious to him.

This is another one of the family of Doctor Who stories that doesn't really have a villain. There's a potential rather nasty villain that doesn't quite make it, there's some mercenaries who might turn out to be rather unpleasant and then there's the people of Thorington themselves who might be a problem.

There's a great cast, with Adrian Dunbar as the mercenary Captain; Nick Wilton as PC Sharp, Lorna Want as Sally Taylor and the aforementioned Derek Griffiths as Jason Taylor.  Katarina Olsson also crops up - again - doing two parts. She's a pretty amazing actress is Katarina. She's really does sound quite different in every part she plays and she can cover and pretty much any accent you can imagine. It's a rather good talent to have.

It is - again - light of jeopardy, even if high on weirdness. At no point did I ever think The Doctor or Lucie were really under threat, even right towards the end when the Doctor is forced to do a lot of talking in order to distract Jason and Sally. Even Adrian Dunbar's Captain McCarthy is boringly sane for a military officer in a Doctor Who story, which actually makes a rather pleasant change. The way that almost every character behaves in a way that feels real is rather nice. There's not really a false note anywhere.

Even the ending feels rather right. McCarthy has plans, the villagers are back and the Doctor is leaving. There's a story to be told about life in Thorington after the Doctor's departure and what happens to the loose ends. Just as there was a story to be told about scientific experiments by Russian scientists exploiting alien artefacts, which took place way back in the days before the Doctor arrived in Thorington. The Russian equivalent of UNIT - or Torchwood - were obviously keener on exploiting alien tech than our own team (although I have a theory that one of the reasons the Doctor Who universe has a British Space programme etc is that the British Government are using the alien technology that's fallen into their hands since...say...the Totter's Yard incident...and are accordingly a bit ahead of the game versus the real world.)

It goes without saying that Paul McGann and Sheriden Smith turn in fine performances. I think they make a good Doctor - Companion pairing, particularly now the sharp tone of their banter has become more amusing and more friendly.

So another competent Big Finish production with one rather lovely idea at the centre of it missing just a little oomph - in terms of danger - perhaps. But maybe that's just me.

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