1/04/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story with extras. Price CD: GBP 10.99 (UK). Download: GBP 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-482-5) stars: Paul McGann, Sheridan Smith, Antony Costa, Jeany Spark, Richenda Carey, Pandora Colin and Beth Chalmers
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
‘Prisoner Of The Sun’ sees the Doctor busying himself trying to save the world. For a change it’s not the Earth but a far-flung planet which is at the centre of a bitter battle. He’s been there for six years and between bouts of boredom he has time to install personalities in his robot helpers. He’s also developing his cooking skills although his guards, the mercenary Mercurials, are a bit stingy with the budget. That’s the catch to his folk heroics. He is a prisoner of the galaxy-ruling group known as the Consensus and they are using him to prevent the sun from destroying a world of two billion souls.
Unfortunately, when the rebels arrive to save him they don’t believe he really is trying to save a world and would prefer a dead martyr to a live liability. It’s hard to work out just who might be on his side if anyone. At least his assistant has a familiar voice even if it has a metal skin.
It is tough being without a companion as Lucie has gone off to see the Earth with the Doctor’s great-grandson, Alex. The Doctor adapts, of course, and his mind is always working. His new assistant is called Daphne and replaces Chloe who tries to kill him in the opening scene. Writer Eddie Robson has managed to work some comedy into this interaction. I also like the Mercurials, Gliss and Fash (played by Richenda Carey and Pandora Colin), who sound suspiciously like two middle-aged women who might be knitting socks as they discuss melting their hand into a lock to become the key. As the name indicates these ‘women’ are made of mercury and work for the highest bidders as jailors in this case. In the tradition of having an ex-boy band member, Anthony Costa shows up from Blue, playing the part of a rebel. He does have acting credits to be fair and in the extras everyone, including him, is keen to point this out. For those of you playing Blue ‘Top Trumps’, Duncan James made one two years ago (2.2: Max Warp).
In some respects this is a bit of filler for the final two episodes which lead to a devastating close but this contrives to continue with some important themes which are carried through from this to the final episode. Most important is perhaps the Doctor’s sense of duty and the loyalty he inspires.
In respect of sound design, this is quite a pared down production due to its location but it manages to stuff plenty of dialogue into the gaps and the story has a sensible internal logic to it which sets up the Doctor for the next episode.
The extras are mainly fluff about the actors with no input this time from Eddie Robson the writer. Knowing how and why the story is constructed always adds to the episode and he series as a whole.
Overall, a good episode although the rebel plot came over as a little too convoluted at one point. Despite deaths occurring, it is a fairly light instalment compared to the darkness that comes next.
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