01/09/2008. Contributed by Sue Davies
CD. pub: Big Finish ISBN: 978-1-84435-310-1. 60 minute CD. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). Non UK £11.50). cast: Paul McGann, Sheridan Smith, Kenneth Colley, Alexander Siddig, Nickolas Grace, Barry McCarthy, Nicola Weeks and Katarina Olsson.
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When the Doctor and Lucie are contemplating where they will go next, they encounter an unexpected and annoying invitation to go somewhere. It takes the form of a big black hole in the TARDIS and despite this, they decide to politely decline. Nobody wants to go. When they get rid of this invite, they land inside an apparently innocent space freighter but several ten-foot centipedes abruptly kidnap the Doctor and Lucie is only saved because she runs very fast and hides in the food waste disposal chute. She is suspicious when the policeman who arrives to interrogate her is another ten-foot centipede. Overcoming his reservations, she gradually gets him on-side to find the Doctor. After all, it's rubbish without him.
As we reach, the penultimate episode of the Second Season of the Eighth Doctor there is a cliff-hanger. Don't be fooled by the two different titles of the last two episodes of this excellent season, one leads to the other. This is a Doctor-lite episode but as it is only fifty minutes, you scarcely notice. The excellent Sheridan Smith holds her own and a strong supporting cast joins in ably enough. I have one little quibble and this can be a problem with Big Finish. They have a tight little band of actors and including Katarina Olsen as a new character is distracting here. Her distinctive portrayal of the Head Hunter in both this and the last Season is confusing. She has a particular voice quality and without prompting by the cast list, it is easy to get confused and imagine the Head Hunter has returned.
With the addition of Alexander Siddig as a ten-foot centipede, the police agent Rosto, the cast is complete. The lovely Alexander who gladdened many a young girl's heart in his portrayal of Doctor Julian Bashir in 'Star Trek Deep Space Nine' adds his beautiful vowels to the convoluted plot. We also have the return of Straxus, the over-stressed Time Lord, direct from Gallifrey, which seems to consist of several old men in a constant state of panic. It's like a Civil Service office when they run out of biscuits. Straxus' method of travel using the time ring has a little too much of 'The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy' about it or perhaps it's just the whole character of Straxus that comes across as comedy relief.
Sheridan Smith carries this episode well and her dialogues with Alexander Siddig form the core of the story. She has time to have her own little flashbacks of memories of travels with the Doctor and we get a rare glimpse of her softer side.
The missing Doctor is often used these days and the TV series has constructed a whole genre around it. I do feel a little bit cheated and although I enjoy the cliff-hanger this is a bit of a filler episode for the final one of the series. Hopefully, that will conclude with a bang and not a whimper.
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