01/03/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Audio Go/BBC. 1 CD 70 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 10.20 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40846-889-0. Price: Download: GBP 6.11 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40849-822-4) cast: Tom Baker and Susan Jameson, Richard Franklin, Joanna Tope, Nerys Hughes.
check out website: www.audiogo.com
Things are looking grim for the survivors in space. There is no sign of the Doctor (Tom Baker) turning up to save them, at least not the fourth incarnation. The Second Doctor (David Troughton) is still there and still meddling. He’s popular with the villagers but if Mrs. Wibbsey (Susan Jameson) were around, she would be keeping a close eye on him.
The village of Hexford is a long way from its home. The houses and all the inhabitants were wrenched away from the earth by the Skishtari in a desperate effort to locate their egg. Now having taken the village through the wormhole, the aliens are gone and the village is just about surviving in its bubble. The villagers know there is something out there and the longer they wait for the Doctor, the more they speculate just what might be coming for them.
Meanwhile, in the cellar of Nest Cottage, the Second Doctor is making contact and we finally know he is up to no good.
While Mike Yeats (Richard Franklin) holds the fort and protects the perimeter, the villagers are on rations, drinking the pub dry and deciding whether do the Christmas Show. Tish (Joanna Tope), the novelist, will write it for them! Such is the Blitz spirit of Hexford. Mike finds comfort next door in the charms of Deidre (Nerys Hughes) while the Second Doctor makes up bizarre recipes using their rations.
When the Fourth Doctor comes back, he will hopefully save the day, as it never needs more saving.
There is still some story to tell and the characters continue to engage and delight as they trade banter and insults. 'Survivors In Space' crosses the line slightly and the emphasis is still on amusing the audience when people actually get killed. They are not people we actually care about but nevertheless, it slightly jars the tone of this series.
The finale opens with this slightly darker tone but this outing for the Doctor has never felt like part of the mainstream series and it remains a confection rather than the main course. The Fourth Doctor, perhaps infected by our perception of Tom Baker, is not to be taken seriously. It’s a jolly jape and it is difficult to be scared or moved by events. It does have its moments though and as long as you are aware of the difference then there is plenty to enjoy here.
The final episode of ‘Serpent Crest’, ‘Survivors In Space’ ends with an epic battle, a reunion and some compassion. It wraps up the series well and the splendid and huge finish of the ‘Serpent Crest’ series leaves a chance of more adventures for the Fourth Doctor and his Wibbsey. Hurrah!
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