Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Big Finish - Relative Dimensions

Another Eighth Doctor adventure from the Christmas sales: Relative Dimensions by Marc Platt, directed by Barnaby Edwards.

Let me get another quick Eighth Doctor review out of the way. It's Christmas again but this time the Doctor and Lucie Miller are planning a celebration meal in the Tardis and there are some very special guests coming, the Doctor's grand-daughter, Susan Campbell, and her son Alex. Once again best laid plans go awry as the Tardis seems to have picked up a very fishy stowaway and they keep catching glimpses of the Doctor's future self battling for survival.

This is a bottle episode with its small cast trapped within the Tardis. It's fairly amusing listening to Lucie struggling with the Turkey and all the trimmings in the galley, while Susan and the Doctor catch up on old times and discuss Alex's future. But is all a bit small canvas again. And the mystery of the brief appearances of the Doctor wearing a survival suit and wrestling with the trans-dimensional fishy foe is no great puzzle. We know that he will eventually have to don the strange outfit and deal with the intruder.

So we are left with the performances of the four cast members. Sheridan Smith is effortlessly funny and enjoyable. I really sympathised with her efforts to get the Doctor to pay attention to her warnings, an often pointless task for a companion as is the case here. There is the neat twist of having Paul McGann's own son Jake play Alex and he acquits himself very well. His dad, on the other hand, sounded somewhat bored in this drama. Most of that is down to the script but do I catch hints that McGann was losing interest in the character at this time? Thank heavens for the re-vitalisation that Dark Eyes has given him.

That just leaves Carole Ann Ford returning to the role of Susan which she played nearly 50 years ago in the very first season of Doctor Who. I know she has done some previous Big Finish stories but this was my first encounter with her and I had the same problem that I had with her slightly stilted performance on television. It is somehow very 1960s with her perfectly clipped dialogue and speech patterns. Acting has moved on and become much faster and looser. I suppose it suits the character of Susan but it bothered me when heard next to the more natural sounding Smith and McGann.

One more negative point was, again, the lack of a break in the story. There was a perfect point half-way through for a break, cliff-hanger and the theme music but there was obviously some deliberate production decision not to do that for this series. Possibly because they were also being packaged for broadcast on Radio 4 Extra?

My least favourite of my Christmas presents so far. 2 out of 5 Dimension hopping fish monsters. However something much darker is coming up for the Eighth Doctor. Stay tuned.

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