THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV STORY "PARADISE
TOWERS" AND THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMA
GARETH ROBERTS &
A SONG FOR DEATH &
DARK SPACE EIGHT
BIG FINISH CD#39
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
Dark Space 8 - the
Contest. With myriad
the UNIVERSE'S eyes
are on the station.
But dark deeds are
afoot aboard Dark
Space 8... and people
are starting to die.
With peace in the
galaxy hanging by
a thread, it's vital
that the mystery is
solved and fast!
Can Dark Space 8'’s
commander, with the
help of his personal
pilot, Mel, find the
murderer in time to
prevent a war?
Or will it be nul
points for the
The title, the cover, the writers, and the festive release date all suggested that BANG-BANG-A-BOOM! would be another foray into the world of comedy. This time around, however, Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman have delivered a script that, rather than take the piss of out Doctor Who, instead rips everything from Deep Space 9 to The Eurovision Song Contest to shreds.
Perhaps the change of emphasis is one reason why I didn’t find this story quite as enjoyable as their previous effort, The One Doctor. On balance though, I think that the real problem with BANG-BANG-A-BOOM! lies in the pacing. Despite the explosive title, this four-part tale is a dawdling affair set entirely within the confines of space station Dark Space 8. Consciously mocking the cheap ‘bottle shows’ that American science fiction shows habitually churn out, events here are stretched out well past their tolerance levels.
The final episode is the most painful by far, taking the form of a long-winded Agatha Christie rip off. It wouldn’t have been so agonising had Big Finish not tricked the listener into thinking that the play was over by allowing the closing theme to begin, only to have Bonnie Longford but in with “no, this is too easy!” Ten minutes of further tedium then ensue, followed by a Dr Harcourt epilogue! Were this play a traditional two or three-parter, rather than four extended episodes, it would have packed so much more of a punch.
Furthermore, the principal characters – Angvia, Geri Pakhar, Eleanor Harcourt – are such
a hideously hammy bunch of caricatures that there was little that the actresses could do past putting on silly voices. The inclusion of a pacifist Pakhar in the story (amusingly depicted on the front cover as a normal, everyday rodent) was a nice idea in principle, but the pipsqueak voice is so infuriating in this medium that I think the Pakhars should have remained confined to the printed word.
That said, some characters do work rather well. Nickolas Grace (Robin of Sherwood) gives a suitably arresting performances as the sinister Loozly, his distinctive voice dripping with both menace and wit. David Tughan’s Commentator Logan is even more entertaining still, and really must be heard to be believed. There’ll be no prizes for guessing which television personality Logan was based on.
What made me laugh more than anything was the swipe at the BBC’s continuity announcer in Doctor Who’s dying days. Each episode of this story is introduced by an announcer who obviously has little (if any) respect for the show, his most memorable introduction being: “In twenty-five minutes, side-splitting comedy, high-octane action, and heart-rending drama... But first, Doctor Who…”
And if nothing else, the tone of this production is at
least perfectly attuned to the loud and garish 1987
season in which it is set. For all its dignity, The Fires
of Vulcan felt like a real aberration. Sylvester McCoy
seems to enjoy putting his brooding Time’s Champ-
ion on the shelf in favour of a return to the seventh
Doctor’s spoon-playing, juggling, metaphor mixing
infancy. Here he finds himself in a military uniform,
referred to as ‘Commander’ throughout, seduced by
an arachnid queen and competing in the Intergalactic
Song Contest! At least the writers had the decency
to have Mel put an end to the Doctor’s unbearable
As a slice of festive fun, BANG-BANG-A-BOOM! does its job admirably, but it doesn’t even come close to matching the dizzy comic heights of The One Doctor, and when compared the standard of Big Finish’s typical releases, for me it doesn’t quite measure up.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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