Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big Finish - The Angel of Scutari

Big Finish release 122 from June 2009 - The Angel of Scutari. Written by Paul Sutton and directed by Ken Bentley.

This completes the Ace and Hex miniseries and sets up a cliff-hanger which would not pay off until over a year later in Project: Destiny. The Tardis crew arrive in the Crimea in October 1854 and get caught in the middle of the terrible clash between the British and Russian empires.  As ever the trio get separated, while the Doctor is off manipulating events and trying to fix a few problems in the time-stream Hex gets to meet the woman who inspired him to take up nursing, and Ace encounters a young Russian writer.

I am on record as not liking the historical Doctor Who adventures either on television or in the audio dramas but this was actually very enjoyable. Paul Sutton makes the wise decision to have this story concentrate on Hex who is left to get on with providing medical and nursing care for the wounded in the British army barracks at Scutari. In a neat twist the changes in basic care that he introduces inspire the Lady with the Lamp herself. I confess that when I first heard Philip Olivier as Hex I was bothered by his Liverpudlian accent, but just like Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe Olivier's performance has won me over. It has been interesting to have a companion who is less than impressed with the Seventh Doctor's manipulations. He has also become increasingly disillusioned by the numbers of deaths he has witnessed since first entering the Tardis. The Angel of Scutari leaves Hex alone in the Crimea long enough for him to make a difference, and to do something positive to balance the scales.

On the other hand this story was a bit of a backward step for the character of Ace. Big Finish should decide whether they are going with the baseball bat Ace from the television show, or the battle hardened warrior Ace from the New Adventures books. In Enemy of the Daleks we clearly had the older, warrior Ace who can quickly take charge in a combat situation. But in the early parts of this tale we are back to the petulant, whiny Ace, although she does morph into a different, more mature character when she travels with that famous Russian writer.

All in all an enjoyable story and the best of this mini-series for me. The extras were pretty good as well and I was surprised to hear Hugh Bonneville in there who I hadn't spotted during the drama itself. 4 out of 5 misplaced musket balls for The Angel of Scutari. Now for some 2000AD!

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