1/09/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story with extras. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-491-7) cast: Sylvester McCoy, Beth Chalmers, Ricky Groves, Derek Carlyle, John Albasiny, John Banks and Chris Porter.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
Following almost directly on from ‘Thin Ice’, for the Doctor and Ace at least, ,Crime Of The Century’ tackles the tricky problem of alien artefacts, father–daughter disagreements and a guerrilla war in a thinly veiled Afghanistan. It also manages to throw into this tricky mix, more aliens, a glamorous Afghan Prince, Russian soldiers and a copious amount of vodka. This is a family show so we never actually see (hear) anyone drinking that vodka. Interestingly, there is little use of the TARDIS in this story and that does seem to be a feature of all three plays.
Another lost story from the never-made series that would have seen Sylvester McCoy in gainful employment as the Seventh Doctor for a little longer this tale, like many others, had to be constructed from the basic plot this time by the original script editor from the series, Andrew Carmel. He also delivers the next instalment in the trilogy of tales featuring the ‘Lost’ Doctor, ‘Animal’, with the final one, ‘Earth Aid’, penned by Cartmel and Doctor Who veteran and novelist, Ben Aaronovitch.
The Doctor follows up Raine Creevy, who is destined to be a new companion. She is the daughter, featured as a baby in ‘Thin Ice’ who has grown up as a criminal just like her father and has a nice line in stylish safe-cracking. That is, she cracks them stylishly. Having drawn in Raine after a rather unusually tight spot for the Doctor, it is down to Ace to sort out Raine’s Dad, Marcus, and recruit him to the cause of…well there it is. Ace gets some heavy weapons and is dropped into Made-Up-Is-Stan with the remit of getting in with the local forces. Following on, the Doctor is still trying to recover the alien artefacts and is concerned about the situation in Made-Up-Is-Stan, notably some alien intervention into an already complicated war between the locals and the Russians. Therein follows a tale of great complexity but there is time for some humour in there as well.
The extras go a little way to explain the background and story development. There are a lot of elements covered and this might have been a controversial subject if had been transmitted at the time. Set in 1989, it is some years since Ace and the Doctor encountered Marcus in Russia and he is amazed to see they are unchanged. He has had a tough few years, losing his wife and his fortune. It doesn’t take Marcus long to join in the caper, which turns out to be far more than just a walk in the Kush.
As ever the guest artist are of highest quality. John Albasiny returns as the required Russian who previously played various characters in ‘Angel Of Scutari’ and ‘Thin Ice’. Here he reprises the character of Alexandrovitch Felnikov, now a Colonel, and John Banks also from ‘Thin Ice' returns as several new characters. Marcus Creevy is ably voiced by ex-Eastenders Ricky Groves and Raine’s dulcet finishing school vowels are perfected by Beth Chalmers.
There are some useful extras that discuss the story and its characters along with some insight into the development of the voices of characters.
As ever, this is a cracking, action-adventure yarn. For me, it feels a bit odd as the Doctor seems to get so closely involved with guns and violence I didn’t watch the Sylvester McCoy series but I get the impression this fits with the original mood. So although it is good stuff, I find it curious to link with the usually more pacifist response from the Doctor. This story seems very much contrived by the Doctor to reach a particular point. He manipulates people and aliens to create the situations he wants. Overall, then he doesn’t seem such a likeable character as his current incarnation but the story carries the day and along with the weapon-toting Ace (in her element) and the more refined Raine Creevey there is enough here to satisfy your urge for adventure.
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