Because fannish life sometimes loves me, I've just found out that Bryan Cranston's stage performance as LBJ will be filmed for tv
. Exceeeeeellent news for us overseas fans.
Due to the Big Finish offerings this last week, I've sampled a lot more audios. Among the most memorable ones:Spare Parts
(Fifth Doctor & Nyssa): one of the most famous ones, by Marc Platt; an origin tale for the Cybermen (original Mondas version) in the mode of Genesis of the Daleks
(i.e. Doctor experiences critical point of development of already established antagonist, becomes involved with local population who have no idea of their fate). Most Five adventures I've listened to until now tended to be more optimistic than their tv counterparts, but this one has the Fifth Doctor in very familiar tv horrified-by-ghastly-goings-on-without-b
eing-able-to-stop-them mode. Though on tv the Mondasians would have been less or not likeable at all, whereas here they are, which makes what happens to them extra tragic. Protect and Survive
(Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex): part of the lead up to the events from Gods and Monsters
, but also a self-contained story that really went under my skin. It was produced while Sylvester McCoy was busy filming The Hobbit
, so it has minimal Doctor participation (though what there is of him is crucial, and it wouldn't work without that part), making a virtue of necessity. Ace and Hex are - due to circumstances that get gradually revealed to them and the audience - trapped in the most ghastly time loop possible. Because, like Ace, I was a teenager in the 1980s, the scenario in question, i.e. a nuclear war does happen and the survivors slowly die of radiation sickness, is intimately familiar. I don't think anyone who grew up after 1989 can understand how very real that possibility was and how it was part of your subconscious and your dreams/nightmares. Including the official info material of what to do just in case (and knowing that actually, these tips are pointless), which is used to great effect here. Mind you: this is not a "big" war story but a very intimate one - just four people (Ace, Hex, and two guest characters) plus the Doctor in absentia (he's missing at the start of the story, and only present in flashback in the third part, though that flashback not only explains what's been going on but packs the biggest emotional wallop re: the Doctor's terrifying side when dealing with enemies since I first saw what happened to the Family (of Blood) at the end of the episode of that name. It's one of the sharpest examinations of the ethics of such actions in Doctor Who
, and yet also shows exactly why they happened. The acting by Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier is top notch and makes you empathize with Ace and Hex to the nth degree. Flip Flop
(Seventh Doctor and Mel): this one is on one level very clever experimental storytelling - there are four "episodes" like on the usual Big Finish audio adventure, but they form two stories which can be listened to in any order because they're both self contained and completely interlocked, taking place at the same time on two parallel time streams. I have mixed feelings about it, though, not because the production doesn't pull it off - it does, and Bonnie Langford as Mel proves again that with a decent script she can be as good a companion as any -, but because the scenario in one of the two timelines is something that strikes me as an almost perfect fundamentalist right wing dream/nightmare scenario, and as such very ill fitting with Doctor Who
(especially not with the Seventh Doctor era). The two different timelines hinge on the arrival of a slug-like species called the Slithegee at a human colony planet, where they occupy one of the moons and ask it should be given to them, since they're refugees. In one scenario, the President grants them the moon; in the other, spoilery stuff happens and an all out war with the Slithegee is the result. The paranoid right wing fantasy scenario is the first one, as the Slithegee proceed to take over the system, accusing any humans resisting the gradual take over of hate speech (that expression gets flung about a lot) and discrimination, and thirty years after their arrival own nine tenths of the planet while the humans live in ghettos, and Christmas is renamed Slimetide in the name of religious toleration etc. In short, it's the dystopia as prophecied by current right wing fanatic complaining of "political correctness gone mad", and the Slithegee are presented as uniformly revolting without any positive quality whatsoever, insisting on being the victims all the time while in actuality outnumbering and oppressing the humans. Just about the only thing which saves it from being anti-immigration propaganda is that the other timeline, where there was war with the Slithegee instead, is an equally dark dystopia, because there the Slithegee were defeated, but the planet became poisoned by the warfare, and the surviving humans have become a fascist dicatorship prone to commit massacres on each other.
Incidentally, while both scenarios are incredibly dark, the tone of the episodes isn't grimdark at all but more Blackadder like; lots of mistaken identity gambits and ridiculing of self important bureaucracies (both of the fascist humans and the Slithegee, depending on the timeline). It makes for a clash of tone and content that's sometimes effective and sometimes just plain weird. But really, the most disturbing thing is the feel of the Slithegee-Takeover-Timeline scenario. So: points of experimenting with the format and exploring the possibilities of time travel/fallout from altering history tropes in a very creative way, but I don't think I could bring myself to listen to it again.