Thursday, 19 April 2018

How To Make A Killing in Time Travel written by John Dorney and Ken Bentley

What’s it about: A disturbance in the vortex causes the TARDIS to land on the Scapegrace space station, where Cornelius Morningstar experiments in time-travel for nefarious purposes. But the Doctor’s plan to stop him winds dangerously out of control as the different agendas of criminals, murderers and alien dynasties conspire against him.

Physician, Heal Thyself: Scanner mad, apparently and a lover of a good mystery…especially if that mystery has grounded the TARDIS. Anything that is causing disruption to the vortex he will tamper with, and he has just the subtle genius to deal with it. Along with the modesty. He likes to deliver a lot of build-up…and then just flick a switch. Whenever he says there’s nothing to worry about…well you can imagine how that sentence ends. He has the true gift of making enemies very quickly. He is shocked that everything they seem to do makes the situation worse whereas Liv is very aware that that is often the case. He improvises well.

Liv Chenka: The Doctor states in a wryly amusing moment that Liv never jokes and she follows that up with a confession that she is very serious. I laughed out loud, it’s great to see these (genuinely very serious) characters having some fun at their own expense. The Doctor is a dab hand at acting as if he owns the place but it’s nice to see that Liv can follow in his wake just as effectively. The Doctor suggests that she is good with diplomacy and she wonders if he has ever spent any real time with her. When pushed she admits that her main role is to confine herself to a few cynical asides.
Standout Performance: I really appreciate how far Roger May goes with his performance as Morningstar, theirs is literally no restraint as far as this character is concerned. He’s quite repulsive and May plays him that way with no aspirations to come out of the story with anybody discovering nuggets of charm. Christopher Ryan is great value too, putting on a heavy accent and throwing himself into the role of Macy with gusto.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Of course it’s murder. People don’t accidentally shoot themselves and then jump through a dimensional portal, do they?’

Great Ideas: I really love how this story kicks off with a good five minutes of material that doesn’t feature the Doctor and Liv and offers very little in the way of explanation of what is going on. It’s refreshing to feel like events are already underway without having the Doctor to push the story into motion. In that way it feels like the Doctor is entering an existing world, rather than a manufactured one for this story only. The Cati are a dispossessed species attempting to regain their place on the galactic stage. Morningstar is after time travel so he can obtain history’s greatest artefacts and sell them for a fortune on the open market. The trouble is he doesn’t have the technical know-how to do this. Scapegrace is a neutral hub in the system for different races to do business without politics getting in the way.

Standout Scene: The death of a character 20 minutes into the story comes completely out of the blue and hinges the plot in a completely different direction. I really didn’t see this coming.

Result: Bloody hell! What’s going on here? I knew they were going for something a little different with Ravenous but I had no idea that they were going to let their hair down this much. How refreshing, I can’t remember a time in recent years where the eighth Doctor range had this much fun. Coming after the Time Lord heavy death of the future apocalyptic drama of Doom Coalition this might feel a little too lightweight and disposable but for me it’s very refreshing. It’s quite lovely to have a story where a guest character takes to the limelight as being the perpetrator of the entire plot and the Doctor and Liv are on hand merely to investigate and bring the truth to light. Having the audience one step ahead is fun and watching Stralla trying to improvise her way out of a very sticky situation proves very amusing. It has to be pointed out just how enjoyable Liv Chenka has been in this set so far and just what a dazzling duo Walker and McGann have become. I’ve always appreciated her dramatic acting chops but Walker’s deadpan humour in this really had me smiling broadly. Farce is described as a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations and add time travel and aliens to that and you’ve pretty much summed up How to Make a Killing in Time Travel. There’s a lot of running about, making excuses, deceits, twists and OTT dialogue. Also, some really witty asides and a sense that it’s okay to have a giggle in the McGannverse again. This sort of Williamsesque irreverence won’t be to everybody’s tastes but I lapped it up. God knows what the Ravenous element to this box set is all about and there isn’t even a hint of an arc at this point (hooray). This is as brazen and as pleasurable as this range has been since before Dark Eyes: 8/10

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