THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMAS
BIG FINISH CD#88
RELEASED IN OCTOBER
NO SUMMER CAN EVER
quite be as glorious
as the ones when you
were young, when a
sunny DAY seemed to
last forever and all
there was to do was
ride your bike, eat
ice-lollies and play
Tom Braudy is HAVING
such a SUMMER when
the TARDIS lands in
his Nan's living room
in the middle of the
the Doctor discoverS
Tom'S STREET appears
to have no beginning
or end, and THAT EACH
AND EVERY house on it
IS THIS THE FUTURE OF
SUBURBIA, OR IS THERE
A MORE SINISTER FORCE
AT WORK? Why doesn't
Tom look as young as
And can anybody
house the TARDIS
Simply put, Memory Lane is outstanding. Every aspect of it - from Eddie Robsonís inventive debut script, to the castís performances, to the post-production - is flawless.
What I think stands out most about this one is its ingenuity. Lest and Argot, the villains of the piece, are a far cry from your usual Doctor Who baddies Ė theyíre just television presenters who havenít invented video tape, or any other means of recording events. This means that,
in order to keep their viewers entertained, they have to continually remount significant events. Significant events such as a human astronaut crash landing on their planet. They canít help
it if this means they have to keep said human astronaut incarcerated and pacified, trapped inside his childhood mind on a street of identical houses.
However, Memory Lane is also a wonderful character piece. This particular TARDIS team has an edge over those comprised of Doctors five through seven as their adventures are consistently, subjectively linear. Whereas we might have to go six months or more without hearing from the sixth Doctor and Evelyn, each eighth Doctor story follows the previous one. And more importantly, each eighth Doctor story builds on the previous one, something that Robson has clearly relished doing here.
ďPerhaps, just for once, the voices can do something for me.Ē
And the last eighth Doctor audio almost pushed Conrad Westmaasís Círizz over the edge. He has fought for so long to stop himself getting lost amongst the myriad of voices that all exist within his head, but after being taunted by Tessa and gruesomely tortured by Rawden and Mr Twyst, Círizz very nearly unleashed his darker side. To his credit though, in the Cube he managed to control the voices. Here though, Círizz finds that he has an impossible choice to make. The only way to save his friends is to give in and unleash these voices, with all their different desires...
Similarly, whilst Charleyís recent
development may not have been
quite as intriguing as her cohortís,
she isnít to be dismissed lightly.
Memory Lane is an inspired title
for this story, at least for her, who
once again has to come face to
face with a representation of her
mother. Former television series
regular Anneke Wills reprises her
role as Lady Louisa Pollard once
again, and does nothing but impress. The scenes between Charley and her illusory mother are both charming and touching, and from listening to them itís easy to infer that Charley is
terribly homesick. It canít be long now before the Círizz angle is played out, and from there
where is there for the trusty Edwardian Adventuress to go? With BBC7 on the horizon for Paul McGann and new companion Sheridan Smith, perhaps the idea that Charleyís days
are numbered isnít so hard to believe, and if that is the case, then perhaps Lady Pollardís appearance here could either be foreshadowing Charleyís ultimate return home, or making her failure to do so all the more torturous.
ďIíll find out by using my super Time Lord powers of looking out of the window.Ē
However, whatever becomes of his companions, the Doctor will always remain, and this script really caters for McGannís vibrant portrayal. Robsonís take on the incarnation seems to have been infused with a lot of both the new seriesí Doctorsí traits - not just the running around munching ice cream, watching snooker, and blundering into trouble, but also the deadly earnestness that both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant have brought to
In fact, when I was listening to it, Memory Lane conjured up a lot of imagery from the revived series, particularly from the recent episode Fear Her. A lot of this is down to its setting (or at least, supposed setting) - a normal suburban street. Whoíd have thought that anyone could make those distinctive Ice Cream van chimes sound ominous? More than that though, this story feels contemporary. The dialogue refers to sport, to Star Wars Lego, and to a million and one other anachronistic things. Iíve noticed this inevitable new series influence seeping through into other plays recently too and I canít fault it. Itís wonderful to see the new life that has been breathed into Doctor Who insidiously infecting and refreshing all branches of the Whoniverse.
And the supporting cast hold their own with the regulars, particularly Sara Carver as Kim, who sounds uncannily like Christine Adams in The Long Game; and Nina Baden-Semper, who manages to make the two dimensional character of Mrs Braudy sound enigmatic and uncannily wise, a bit like The Oracle of The Matrix movies.
At the end of the day, you just have to take your hat off to Big Finish. Every month when my subscription arrives, I still get every bit as excited as I did when the series was thought dead and buried. The stories are moving with the times and are arguably better than ever, and I canít wait to see whatís in store for the eighth Doctor, Charley and Círizz when we catch up with them next .
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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