Monday, 19 September 2011

Fitz’s Story written by Steve Cole and directed by Nicholas Briggs

What’s it about: On the planet Entusso, the Doctor and Fitz Kreiner investigate Alien Defence Incorporated - your one-stop shop for protection against extraterrestrial invasion! But which is the greatest menace: the hideous Vermin Queens or ADI itself?

Breathless Romantic: This audio is set during the turbulent time in the eighth Doctor’s life but he still had time for great moments of levity such as this. In as brief as terms as possible the Doctor destroyed Gallifrey. Nope not the same time as when he destroyed Gallifrey in the TV Series. He destroyed Gallifrey in the books first and God knows how we reconcile the two. Anyway he destroyed Gallifrey to save it from this destructive force that was tearing it apart anyway and planning on using time travel technology to destroy the Web of Time as we know it. As a result he lost his memories and was dumped on Earth where over 100 years he tried to find himself and the TARDIS (oh and enjoyed some brilliant novels) before Fitz turned up at the latter end of the 20th Century and took him back into space. At this point in his life he still doesn’t remember who he was but he is having a ball saving planets and having a laugh…he’s funnier, snappier, crazier and far more violent than he ever was before.

He’s done what he can to defend the world of Entusso from evil alien extraterrestrials! He so lands in the thick of things and of course he gets results. Fitz is convinced that the Doctor has landed an advertising contract to endorse ADI but he assures him it is a hyper animated construct. The Doctor revels in the irrefutable.

Scruffy Git: I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to hear Fitz Kreiner being brought to life. Fitz and I went on an incredible journey in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel range – he came along just as I was ready to give up on the books with his wicked sense of humour, absolutely loyalty to the Doctor and his many vices including cigarettes and the ladies. He was a wonderfully flawed loser that knew that he was past any chance at greatness and eking out a meagre living in a garden centre in the sixties when he dreamt of being a famous singer. The Doctor whisked into his life and took him on an insane adventure which had many twists and turns on the way – the Fitz we ultimately ended up with was a copy of the original, perfect in every way but not the actual person who was born Fitz Kreiner (he became a bitter, decrepit villain working for an evil voodoo cult). I just loved Fitz – he was goofy and a bit useless but he was also charming, funny, surprisingly perceptive and the best friend the Doctor could have ever had, especially in that period of his life and he proved himself over and over. When they finally parted company it was as heartbreaking as the range ending, we had enjoyed this friendship for almost five years and it felt devastating that it was coming to an end. He was certainly my favourite character in print and he had this malleable ability that anybody who was writing for him aced the job. When I heard that he was going to be played by Hustle’s Matt di Angelo I was surprised but imagine my delight when he brought the character to life exactly how I imagined him to be. Rough, cute, dopey and insightful, di Angelo is Fitz as far as I am concerned. I would do anything to hear more Fitz stories because his chemistry with McGann is extraordinary, every bit as good as the 8th Doctor and Fitz were in print. And it seems very fitting that Steve Cole, the very man who gave this gift to Doctor Who, should write his audio debut.

He always wanted his life to be like a Hollywood movie full intrigue and glamour and spice but instead it was like one of those cheap telly efforts (dull, overlong and he didn’t understand what the ‘ell any of it meant). He took the lifeline the Doctor threw out from his old police box and he got to see how a skinny little herbert like him could make a real difference. And it was a fantastic way of impressing the birds. He has a way of bringing theories penetratingly to life. Always one to exaggerate his own prowess, when interviewed by the news he sets himself up as the real power behind the Doctor’s throne! He’s the master strategist, saving the day but shining the limelight on the Doctor as his public face (hahaha!). Fitz is happy to save the day as long as gets the girls phone number and gives the Doctor a massive hug when they defeat the latest alien menace – he’s so cute! He saves the Doctor the embarrassment of the being the face of ADI and enjoys the life of a celebrity as he endorses the organisation in the adverts.

Standout Performance: I can barely look at a photo of Matt di Angelo without going weak at the knees so matching that with his rough cockney accent in this tale and I was suitably bewitched. He just seems to get the character, full of bluster and bravado, embarrassing himself and yet at the same time emerging as a hero. His teary eyed story about the Doctor being tortured is hilarious.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Fitz Kreiner, Private Eye. This is the dirt.’
‘You’re a part time saviour. You save worlds at your convenience.’
‘Take your time…but please let go of my leg.’

Great Ideas: ADI is Alien Defence Incorporated, the rapid response extra terrestrial callout service! They will handle everything from abduction to full on invasion at very reasonable prices. One call and credit card details will bring the best protection to alien attack…as endorsed by the traveller in time and space – the Doctor! The advert was put out to draw the Doctor in so they could hire him as a freelance consultant (he’s not interested). Ten missing phone operatives and ten nasty puddles means they have been reduced to a chemical slime. The killer turns out to be…the simple cleaner!

Audio Landscape: The security bot being deactivated, the Doctor gurgling and spitting, phone ringing, the Doctor construct fizzing and phutting.

Musical Cues: The jingle that accompanies the ADI advert is bombast in its most hysterical purity!

Isn’t it Odd: Considering he was instrumental in the transition to Justin Richards as editor of the books it was a little odd to hear the Doctor mention Sam when Cole must know that he had forgotten his old life at this point. But who am I to get wound up but continuity errors, they certainly don’t get in the way of telling a good story.

Standout Scene: Fitz’s humiliation when interviewed as the real saviour of worlds and shown a clip of his bravery when facing aliens (‘Not me face! Not me face! Lets talk about it! You speako Englisho mate…argh!’). I love this guy.

Notes: Anji is sleeping off some very potent alien cocktails that Fitz gave her the night before. For the record she is the one character I adored even more than Fitz, a stuck up stock broker from London who had a desperate superiority complex when it came to Fitz and a real bitchy side. Tempering that was her intelligence, her resourcefulness and her humanity which made her even more useful than the Doctor at times. She had an initial mistrust of Fitz but grew to love him as we all do and was shedding tears over him before she left the TARDIS. The three of them made what I still consider to be the best team to have travelled in the novels and I would suggest checking out Fear Itself, The Year of Intelligent Tigers, City of the Dead, The Crooked World and Camera Obscura for the best of this team. At their height they were unstoppable.

Result: Brilliant entertainment and a dream come to true to actually hear the eighth Doctor and Fitz together for the first time. Who ever complains about a dominantly male TARDIS is nuts because the few occasions I can think of (the 1st Doctor & Steven, the 2nd Doctor & Jamie and the 8th Doctor and Fitz) show that particular Doctor at their best. Fitz was a marvellous character who made me laugh and cry and Matt di Angelo manages to encapsulate in this one mini adventure everything that made him special. The story itself is witty and wonderful and easily the best audio Steve Cole has written to date – he seems very comfortable with these characters and he should be since he was responsible for both of them in print once upon a time. The success of this story should have been enough to snap a season of 8th Doctor and Fitz adventures and we can only hope that one day they go ahead and make them. Frothy and delightful and a big thank you for letting me enjoy one last adventure with my favourite book companion: 9/10
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