Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Phobos written by Eddie Robson and directed by Barnaby Edwards
What's it about: The TARDIS lands on Phobos, moon of Mars - where extreme sports nuts of the future indulge their passion for gravity-boarding and wormhole-jumping. But there's something lurking in the shadows, something infinitely old and infinitely dangerous. It's not for nothing that 'Phobos' is the ancient word for 'fear'...
Breathless Romantic: Hands down the characterisation of the eighth Doctor is the best thing about this audio, more than keeping up with the high standards of this series. Does he need a licence or does he just make it up as he goes along? He tests the gravity of Phobos by jumping up and down like an excited child! The Doctor has known savages with better manners than Lucie. A smug fop? He’s seen entire species destroyed, civilisations left in ruins, witnessed solar systems wink out in the blink of an eye and seen things that would freeze your blood. Don’t ever threaten him. Petty threats irritate him. When you live as long as the Doctor you see a lot. I love the scene where he tells Kai that if he doesn’t get the answers he wants he will break something, what a hard ass! He thrives on saving people, enjoys risking his life for others. The Doctor gluts the creature on his fears, the things he has seen and the things he never wants to see again. He faces his fears and it makes him stronger, that’s how he wins. He tortures the creature with evils from the past and future, things that scare the living daylights out of him. He finishes it off with the things that he might do someday (his hand in the Time War?). Lucie wonders of ultimately the Doctor is more frightening than the monsters?
Luscious Lucie: I love her answer when the Doctor asks why they thought Lucie was a monster – ‘Choose your answer carefully, lads.’ Lucie yawns through the Doctor’s science lecture. Her Auntie Marnie was a big woman; all her relations
were by the sound of it! She’s really good at dealing with the mushy stuff although her subtlety mind have deserted her when she asks ‘If it’s not a rude question, what is he?’ The Doctor is not Lucie’s anything and she is getting tired of people making that assumption. Lucie is awestruck at the Lunar surface, looking out at Mars. She admits that she is not sure that she would ever want to see the Doctor’s fears. I really like Lucie’s humorous pop culture references, calling Amy and Farl Polly Pocket and Hagrid!
Standout Performance: Paul McGann plays the few scenes where the Doctor is nasty with silky, quiet menace. Very nice.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Had enough honeydew? Is the milk of paradise turning sour?’
‘Only give us what you can afford.’ ‘A laudable policy if ripe for abuse.’
Great Ideas: Lunar Park on Phobos has been left to look after itself and the squatters claimed the environment dome. The wormhole is a vertical tunnel you can jump down and never hit the sides. Drennies are adrenalin junkies that come to the planet for kicks. An entity built a singularity bridge between our reality and theirs, it feeds of fear and if it gets strong enough it will break into our universe. Kai has been trying to drive the Drennies away to stop them from feeding it. It wants to twist the living matter of our universe into a new body. The Headhunter turned up before the Doctor and Lucie arrived with days to spare and she has an accident, once again missing them! Gutted!
Audio Landscape: The story opens with a scream and a splash about in the water, cold winds, the TARDIS sounds awesome these days, I like the effect of the Doctor talking to Lucie from within the TARDIS, Farl’s accent is odd and bestial, there is some nice harmonica playing in the dome to prove this lot are hippies, crunchy footprints, I really like the spacesuit helmet communicators, screaming monsters, droid voice.
Musical Cues: The music was okay but not a patch on the first three stories. I like that hip and exciting music, as the Drennies were about to jump down the wormhole.
Result: Phobos is the first casualty of the eighth Doctor series. It lacks substance; odd from the usually reliable pen of Eddie Robson but this story is a tedious experience of action and melodrama with little intelligence to keep it interesting. There’s a snowy backdrop which seems to be the default Big Finish location these days and I’ve lost count of how many stories feature against a background of screaming winds and brilliant white. There is a bucket load of tack as well which is ripe for piss taking; a lovers tiff between an hairy beast and squeaky girl, a blink and you’ll miss the embarrassment gay romance and lots of hip kids speak (‘I feel the need for speed!’). The creature turns out to be nothing worth getting excited about and the Headhunter turns up again like a bad smell and fails to generate any tension (she’s a bit rubbish actually): 4/10
Buy it here from Big Finish: http://www.bigfinish.com/15-Doctor-Who-Phobos