Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Beautiful People written by Jonathan Morris and directed by Mark J Thompson

What’s it about:Put all your worries behind you. Situated in fifty acres of relaxing sculpted gardens, the Vita Novus Health Spa offers a sanctuary from the stresses and strains of 32nd century life. Our exclusive programme of weight loss therapy is celebrated throughout the galaxy for its ease, simplicity and one-hundred-per-cent success rate. No matter how full-figured you may be, we can make you slimmer, healthier - and happier. In fact, you will leave Vita Novus feeling like an entirely new person. And that's guaranteed. We cater for all endoskeletal carbon-based life-forms. All major credit cards accepted. Parties welcome.

Aristocratic Adventurer: Finds that it’s best to humour the Doctor if he is in a huff. Where she comes from she feels as if she has had a wasted morning if she hasn’t saved three planets before breakfast! She’s not an investigator; she’s just having fun! Lalla Ward narrates the story with real gusto but it is when Romana is about to be sucked under water and drowned when she is at her best, speeding up her reading, relaying the information with panic and fear. Self assured, clever and daring. She’s not fearless, she’s rather frightened. Much like her time on the TV, the Doctor is shoved to the sidelines pondering on something silly whilst Romana gets on with all the meaty stuff! Romana face cream and Romana hand lotion…I bet that would go down very well! Disgusted that the Doctor has only brought her a towel!

Teeth and Curls: I’m not sure how Lalla Ward feels about Tom Baker these days, in the commentaries she insults, in magazine interviews she praises…but either way she brings the fourth Doctor to life with a gorgeous booming voice that sounds exactly like her ex husband in places. Why is it that we never seem to have enough doughnuts? Sometimes its good to have something bad for him! Training a dog to bake doughnuts (he always uses the wrong jam!). Boogle eyed expression! If there’s one thing he can’t stand its celery (hahaha!). He owns whole solar systems that he won in a game of buckaroo! He thinks he deserves some R and R after that terrible business with the Mandrels. Shambles into the room, for some reason the Doctor has always had trouble going through doors naturalistically! Spends the whole time Romana is in mortal danger on the gift shop! ‘You don’t know what it is like to have somebody adore you’ – Ward stresses precisely the right word! His laughter hanging in the summer air.

Metal Dog: K.9’s databanks does not contain any colloquialisms as though they were below him. Sometimes Romana feels as though he was the one having adventures and they were his companions! Never exactly fast on his wheels.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘You too can be one of the Beautiful People!’
‘If fat people had any willpower…they wouldn’t be fat!’
‘Spare me the excuses! I have low self-esteem, I had an unhappy childhood, it’s a glandular problem…I’m the Typhonian Ambasaddor! The truth is chocolate tastes far too nice!’
‘My weight ballooned to such an extent that I was in danger of being re-classified as a minor planet!’
‘Romana! Help me! I’m being acupunctuated!’
‘There isn’t a thin me inside trying to get out. There’s only the gorgeous, fabulous, generously proportioned me!’
‘Move away from the controls my dear! Or you will be disintegrated or vaporised or atomised or…this gun has several settings!’
‘Let the weight loss begin!’
‘If you have manufacture beauty it ceases to be beauty. Beauty is not about artifice, it’s about the idiosyncrasies of nature.’
‘This the most doughnutty doughnut I have ever tried!’

Great Ideas: Vita Novus, the biggest health resort in the galaxy! Robots monitoring the complex and turning up as soon as they sense caloriphic intake. Even tired TV Producers have visited! A steam room featuring a horrible globby creature. Ground breaking tissue reduction technology. Synthetic body fat turned into cosmetics. A slim universe is a happy universe, an invasion of health freaks! Slim up or die! Thin people always assume fat people are miserable; they look on them with pity and disgust. Beauty isn’t about how much you weigh or how muck make up you put on your face, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Slimming herself out of existence. From now on Vita Novus is somewhere people can some to enjoy themselves. The gymnasium is becoming an ice cream parlour! You could go into orbit around the giant chocolate cakes they will be baking!

Audio Landscape:
Slimy, tentacled creature, underground machinery, thunderous crash of Isabella fainting, whirlpool water, an erupting billow of flame,

Musical Cues: The comical nature of the story renders the music a little unmemorable, especially compared to the superb score for the last companion chronicle.

Result: Irreverent and silly, what could have been a one joke wonder becomes a fun piece with a worthy message. Jonathan Morris brought this team to life adeptly in his debut novel Festival of Death and fairs just as authentically here. Romana is a wonderfully charismatic and bossy character, the Doctor blunders his way through the story making some beautiful observations and K.9 is having the most fun of all! I did find the first two parts a little slow and eventless but I thought the story improved greatly once the villainess chipped in with some really awesome lines. This is not an essential piece of audio storytelling but it is a witty piece of nonsense with more sparkling one liners than you could ask for: 7/10

Buy it from Big Finish here:

1 comment:

dark said...

I really enjoyed this first time around and second time around it was actually better. The elicit chocolate cake, the burn droids, and when the villainess enters the everything goes into high gear, I love the "she was a most orange lady!"

There are probably better comedies in Who like the one Doctor, but this one really had it's moments, and I have to say Isabella's being treated not as an endless parade of fat jokes but at the same time with her weight being a mild source of humour was really amusing! I don't think I've seen such a sensative subject treated so sensatively and still funny.

The only things that bothered me were first, what was with the seaweed monster? it seemed just there for a cliffhanger and not really to serve much purpose. Second, when we had the description of the seaweed as well as the spongy organic booths for slimming, my mind was screaming "xygon xygon xygon!" which probably shows I'm far too much obsessed with who, but maybe if my mind was a word or two of explanation would help here?

Also i have to say while I absolutely applaud Doctor Who going in for H2g2 references (especially with the Adams connection, the two just go together so well), a the script seemed far too coy here. The phrase "tired Tv producers" also used of the Golgafrinsham arc just wasn't reference enough, really if this was to be a theme in the comedy a word of "don't panic" from the fourth doctor or his comments about writing an entry for the megadodo publishing company would've been welcome.

So, good clean fun, albeit it could've gone a wee bit further.