Monday, 11 January 2016
The Satanic Mill written by Edward Collier and directed by Ken Bentley
Physician, Heal Thyself: It's safer to keep the Doctor's companions alive because if they are killed he becomes irrational and more dangerous. Well thank you for that astonishing insight into his character. Wouldn't anybody be? He's always happy to disappoint, which is a good because he doesn't do much which is worthy of note. Is he handicapped by a sense of moral superiority. The Doctor excepts no responsibility for the people that Helen has saved, perhaps as an example to her of her own personal responsibilities as a time traveller.
Liv Chenka: Why does Liv travel with the Doctor? Because he has saved her life more than once, although the first time she met him it wasn't this Doctor. It was another one.
Helen Sinclair: Being educated and female in the 1960s doesn't give you the best opportunities in the world and travelling with the Doctor disposes of a lot of those prejudices. She can be seen on her own terms and unafraid to show what she is really capable of. Maybe secretly she wants her life to be in danger, the thrill of living for every second.
Sparkling Dialogue: 'The trap one sets ought to be appropriate for the pest one hopes to eliminate.'
Great Ideas: The control of an individual through the implementation of words. The entire facility is built into quadrants and each quadrant generates a shift of workers. This facility is from the Dark Time, the misty dawn of Time Lord history. A stellar manipulator can focus enough energy to destroy a star. The Eleven reconfigured (changed the factory settings hoho) into a Victorian factory suspended in space. The Regeneration Codex has been tucked away in the Omega Vault, the Eleven found it and used it to lead him to this long dormant stellar manipulator. The Doctor is to be exposed to the sun to die slowly and painfully with no regeneration. As he dies the energy released will power the Omega device and the Eleven plans to destroy the entire solar system. He'll go down in history for this one. It's not like anybody hasn't tried it before.
Standout Scene: Behave yourself.
Result: 'Witness the rise of chaos and the rise of the new universal order!' Yes, I'm afraid that's how tedious this set ultimately turns out to get. Astonishingly poor, the first half of The Satanic Mill is confused, rambling and probably some of the least engaging material I have heard in some time. It reminded me of Excelis Decays, a tedious location, lots of electronic warbling and not a great deal of explanation or character. Given where the Doom Coalition box set started that is quite a nose dive in quality. The Eleven has gone from being an astonishing concept to a ranting villain who chews the scenery at every opportunity. It appears that his psychotic persona gets most of the air time and dishes out empty threats as a matter of course. There is a great deal of work to be done to salvage this character in the second box set. Even with the weaker scripts that he is handed Ken Bentley's direction is usually enough to provide some level of entertainment but it feels as though he has done as little as possible to The Satanic Mill to make it an enjoyable experience. The sound design is uncomfortable to listen to, there isn't much of a score and it sounds like he has left the actors in the booth to get on with it whilst he works on another, more important, story. This is the last story of the first box set, the culmination of where this has been head and the stepping stone to the second. It's possibly even more important than the introductory tale and yet it feels as if everybody has had enough at this point. Even the regulars sound less enthused. Edward Collier really couldn't make a dazzling idea for a location sounds more boring. The economic synopsis promised much but the story itself delivers so little. The Eleven's plan is ultimately very boring, reliant on tedious Time Lord technobabble to bring a grandiose scheme to fruition. He's just a poor substitution for the Master after all. I fail to understand how this sort of thing can transpire, where a dazzling new eighth Doctor box set can kick start with such a leap in the air and then fizzle away to a limp stumble at the conclusion. Surely the script editor could have coaxed something more engaging out of Edward Collier than this? I'm always moaning about the lack of new writers at Big Finish and to their credit they have taken a punt. Perhaps I should have shut my mouth: 2/10