1/10/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story with extras. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-578-5). cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Paul Shearer, Laura Molyneux, Philip Bretherton, Rosanna Miles, Raquel Cassidy, Joan Walker, James George and Joe Jameson.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
In celebration of 150 monthly releases, Big Finish offer ‘Recorded Time And Other Stories’. There are four separate stories featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri in a variety of locations. Starting with Earth history, the pair visits Henry VIII (Paul Shearer) in ‘Recorded Time’ by Catherine Harvey.
Here they find that time can be re-written but beware the consequences. When Peri and the Doctor arrive in the court of Henry VIII, the King is quite taken with Peri but bemused by the Doctor, ‘Why do you wear motley?’ The throne and a lot more is at stake as she attempts to deflect his attention. Young Ann Boleyn, ‘I am as you would have me’ (Laura Molyneux) is frightened that Henry will drop her for a new model, its happened before and there are some things that the Doctor cannot influence. But someone else is. History is being written by the winning side and that always distorts the story.
There is some delightful writing here with sensitivity about the speech of the time or at least our modern understanding of it. Paul Shearer’s King reminds me of Keith Michell from the glory days of the BBC and Philip Bretherton skilfully plays the mysterious Scrivener who seems to be directing from the wings.
Whilst travelling in deep space the Doctor receives a message from Peri. So begins ‘Paradoxicide’ by Richard Dinnick the second story. Peri needs rescuing from the lost planet of Sendos but she is also standing by his side in the TARDIS. They have to investigate, of course, even though the planet was wiped out by a contagion many years ago. Sendos is home to a fabulous armoury which many people would like to get its hands on including the war-like females of Volci.
In complete contrast how about a comedy of manners in ‘A Most Excellent Match’ by Matt Fitton. Whoever thought Peri might be interested in marriage? She is such a free spirit. But now she waits with trepidation for a proposal from Mr. Darcy even though Dr. John Smith is also anxious to plight his troth.
Getting its literary hat on Big Finish has the lovely Phillip Bretherton as Mr. Darcy, definitely coming in ahead of the Doctor in the love and the style stakes. Passions run high, Jane Austen would be blushing and so would Peri. In between the jokes, it makes some serious points about the character of the Doctor and draws on our own knowledge or not of literary heroes.
For the final story, ‘Question Marks’ by Philip Lawrence, we have a classic locked door scenario. Five people in what appears to be a spaceship wake up with no memory of preceding events but are heading towards disaster. We know that it’s Peri and the Doctor trapped in there with three others but can anyone work out what is going on before the impending catastrophe?
‘Question Marks’ features Raquel Cassidy in the lead as Destiny Gray, known for her double performance as Foreman Cleaves in Doctor Who episodes ‘The Almost People’ and ‘The Flesh’.
Each story is distinctive and covers a fairly complex in a fairly short time. Parts are light-hearted and recurrent tropes and characteristics of the Sixth Doctor come up with regularity. Two of the stories are quite dark, leaving a sadness at the end despite the resilience of the Doctor.
My particular favourite of the lighter one is ‘A Most Excellent Match’ by Catherine Harvey which skilfully uses our current obsession with Jane Austen and other classic mash-ups to good effect.
The darker story that pulls you in slowly but delivers a devastating conclusion is ‘Paradoxicide’. It weaves a morality tale around aggression and war which leads to a sobering finish.
Overall, the four stories are a good addition to the library of Big Finish. It is good to see new writers being showcased here as well in this challenging format. This would also make a good sample for new listeners to understand the appeal of the range. It falls out of any continuity but is a broad sampler of what you might expect. Other examples of this include ‘100’ also featuring the Sixth Doctor and ‘Circular Time’ featuring the Fifth Doctor.
These episodes are directed by the famous Ken Bentley and music and sound design by Richard Fox and Lauren Yason. There is a separate track for the music of all four plays included as part of the extras. There are also some short interviews with the cast.
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