THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMAS
"TERROR FIRMA" AND
BIG FINISH CD#75
RELEASED IN OCTOBER
Millennia ago, the
people of the planet
never to set foot on
their sister planet
Endarra. But what
secrets does IT hold?
There are laws THAT
even the Doctor won't
And while C'rizz
learns that some
tragedies can't be
must decide who the
enemy actually is.
For death walks on
Endarra, and this
time she won't be
Scaredy Cat marks a turning point in the audio adventures of the eighth Doctor, providing us with Paul McGann’s first traditional Who story in at least three years. Even this August’s Terror Firma - the first story set back within the confines of ‘our’ universe - had to resolve a cliffhanger and, stunning though it was, was steeped in tortuous continuity. Will Shindler’s story, on the other hand, takes us back to what the classic television series was
all about - interesting and scary science-fiction that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. No Divergence. No romances. Just the Doctor, the TARDIS, and his two best friends.
I have to admit though, I feel a little bit cheated that three seventeen minute episodes and one twenty-two minute episode wound up constituting a two-disc release. If the story could
not be padded, then fair enough – I’m all for shorter, pacier stories – but as it is less than eighty minutes all told, why not make it a three-parter and treat us to a one-off episode? As things stand, half our money is just paying for empty space!
Such cynical observations aside, Scaredy Cat comes as a real breath of fresh air for this TARDIS crew. Paul McGann’s Doctor is once again full of the zeal and the adrenaline that carried him through his first two Big Finish seasons, and this is one of C’rizz’s finest outings to date. Only Charley seems to suffer - again - at Will Shindler’s pen. It isn’t that she’s not given enough to do by the script this time; it’s more that she is misrepresented, written as
a flapping assistant rather than a bossy Edwardian adventuress.
However, Shindler’s plot is fairly interesting,
and thanks to the condensed running time it
rattles along a fair old pace. The concept of
the planet and the child becoming one is a
fascinating idea, though for me even this took
a back seat to the engrossing Doctor / C’rizz
dynamic. There is a definite tension between
them in this play – at one point C’rizz directly
disobeys the Doctor’s instructions and meddles in the past, and not long afterwards the killer in C’rizz ends up pointing a weapon at his friend. Conrad Westmaas’ portrayal is completely devastating; so much so, in fact, that at times you can almost touch all of the conflicts housed within his mutable persona. Big Finish are most definitely onto a winner with this feller.
Overall then, this audio drama is a huge improvement on Shindler’s lacklustre effort last year, The Twilight Kingdom, which I felt was the worst story of the whole Divergence arc by a mile. Scaredy Cat clearly benefits from its shorter running time and from being the first ‘traditional’ McGann audio in years, but it’s still far from being perfect, reminding us that Big Finish have a long way to go if they are to match the quality of the eighth Doctor adventures that we were so spoiled by back in 2002.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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