Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Big Finish - Spare Parts

Raiding the back catalogue brings me to Big Finish monthly release 34 - Spare Parts by Marc Platt. Directed by Gary Russell and starring Peter Davison as the doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.

The Tardis lands on a strange planet and while the Doctor tries to work out where they are, Nyssa gets involved with a family who are struggling to survive in a city of people who are steadily replacing their organs with mechanical parts.

I originally bought this story after hearing it reviewed by the TimeVault team, back in their Cadmium 2 days. It has a reputation as one of the best Big Finish stories and this one certainly stood up to a second listening. Everything about this production is perfection. The cast are fantastic and include well know names such as Derren Nesbitt, Sally Knyvette and Paul Copley. Sarah Sutton is very empathic as Nyssa, and Peter Davison gave us a Doctor who grows irritable as a way of concealing his growing unease about the planet and the future. The sound design and music are great, and Nick Briggs does some astonishing things with the Cyber voices. These are the Cybermen from the Tenth Planet era with their slightly foolish sing-song voices. Yet Briggs manages to make them terrifying. It is an astonishing performance.

Even more astonishing is a moment when a newly "upgraded" Cyberman comes face to face with its former family and tries desperately to overcome its new programming and speak to them. I do not know how much of the tragic vocalisations are down to Nicholas Briggs, and how much to Kathryn Guck, but somehow it manages to be both moving and completely horrifying at the same time. It may be my favourite moment in all of Big Finish so far. And it is the sort of effect that I can imagine happening in classic Doctor Who.

Spare Parts is spoken about as the equivalent of Genesis of the Daleks for the Cybermen and, certainly, what it tells us about people of Mondas, their plight, and the Doctor's role in the events that lead to them becoming the Cyberman remind me of that great story. It is a perfect prequel to The Tenth Planet.

Looking back at the scores I have given Big Finish stories so far I can see that the top spot is shared by The Silver Turk and The Architects of History with 4.5 each. Well, no surprise but Spare Parts is going straight to the top with a full 5 out of 5 Cyber chest units. It's a perfect Big Finish story. Check it out if you have not done so already.

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