THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH / BBC7
RADIO DRAMA "NO
MORE LIES" AND THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO
BIG FINISH BBC7 CD#7
RELEASED IN JULY 2007
& BBC7 CD#8 (ISBN 1-
IN AUGUST 2007.
Lucie Miller's been
headhunted to join
Hulbert Logistics, a
firm in Telford.
competitive salary -
you don't have to be
mad to work here!
But wasn't she made
for better things, like
time and space?
MEANWHILE The Doctor
has been fired - into
a confrontation with
the most terrifying of
11TH FEBRUARY 2007 - 18TH FEBRUARY 2007
(2 50-MINUTE EPISODES)
Eddie Robson is swiftly establishing himself as one of Big Finish’s most exciting new talents. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip down Memory Lane last year, and whilst his more recent Phobos wasn’t quite of the same superlative standard, it was thoroughly enjoyable
all the same, and I couldn’t help but be astounded by the man’s indelible style. And Human Resources is quite easily his finest offering yet. It is so very good, in fact, that I’d be very surprised if Robson wasn’t on Russell T Davies’ shortlist to write for the television series.
The first episode of Robson’s
story is relatively slow-paced,
the tension rising gradually
over the fifty minutes. In this
respect, it reminded me very
much of the recent episode Army of Ghosts on television. Although things are building leisurely and inevitably towards that epic cliffhanger, the atmosphere screams out ‘season finale’ at you. Even ERS’ incidental music, which sounds uncannily like Dominic Glynn’s
eighteen year-old Survival score, truly evokes that distinct pressure-cooker atmosphere.
However, what really made Part 1 so enjoyable for me was the writer’s vibrant depiction of contemporary England. To rehearse a tired observation, Doctor Who is often at its zenith when present-day Earth is under threat from alien aggressors. Nevertheless, for this to work, the audience has to really believe that this world is their world. It has got to seem real, or the device falls flat. And, much like fellow tenderfoot Joseph Lidster does so successfully in his plays, Robson paints the picture of modern life immaculately. Fantasy Football, Phil Neville, Brent-esque bosses from hell, fag breaks, and free off peak minutes. Put the science-fiction elements to one side, and Human Resources is a delightful, bright and even understatedly amusing play that reeks of influences as diverse as Ricky Gervais, Bret Easton-Ellis and Kit Pedler! Like I say, just the kind of brew that I like.
The plot itself is well thought-out and beautifully executed, though I have to admit that I was surprised when the Headhunter actually turned out to be, well, a Headhunter! It seems that she was instructed by a Mr Hulbert to recruit Lucie Miller for his unique business – fighting wars on the behalf of his clients, using gigantic war machines populated by brainwashed employees who believe that they are working in an office in Telford – only things went a little bit awry. The Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency intercepted Lucie en route, having mistaken her for another young lady whose future they were very, very interested in. All this “witness protection” guff was just good old-fashioned Time Lord obfuscation.
Part 2 is the big pay off to the story, to Lucie’s story arc; to the whole season. It wasn’t the pay off that I’d expected at all, though. Even certain presumptions that I’d made were wrong – for example, the Cybermen of Human Resources are relatively primitive, hailing from a time prior to their settling on Telos. This gave Nicholas Briggs opportunity to have a lot of
fun with their voices, at times pushing them into new series territory, and at others taking them right back to their original (and in my view, never bettered) Tenth Planet roots. But
what I found most surprising was their limited role in the story – they are almost completely incidental to the plot. Don’t get me wrong, they’re Cybermen and they’re awesome and
I‘d rather have them involved here than some faceless, new monster, but the real heart of Human Resources is Time Lord politics – specifically, the eternal squabble between the CIA and the High Council. Nickolas Grace really impresses as the Time Lord operative Straxus. I’m a massive fan of his work – his memorable turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin of Sherwood, particularly – and to have him in Doctor Who playing a serious, slightly sinister role is amazing. His distinctive voice was born for radio; the scenes between him, the Doctor, and Lucie at the end of this story were well worth waiting eight episodes for.
Criticisms? None whatsoever.
Human Resources rounds off
a magnificent series of radio
drama, though – contrary to
what the Radio Times would
have had us believe – not the
Paul McGann era as a whole.
In fact, in the short Beyond the
Vortex featurette that followed
transmission, Nicholas Briggs went on record and said that he wouldn’t ever consider doing a “Time War” series, and to be honest, I don’t blame him.
It would either be hardcore science fiction that no-one without a degree in Physics would
be able to understand, or it would be dumbed-down to the sort of war that a layman could follow, totally crushing the mystique of it all. Guns and bombs just don’t evoke the same sense of awe as N-Forms and Bow Ships.
That said, I would love to hear a McGann / Eccleston regeneration at some point, but again Briggs was adamant that he wouldn’t want to bookend things and “make the Doctor Who universe smaller.” Again, it’s an understandable position for a producer to take, but all the same I remain hopeful that one day we’ll learn what ultimately finishes off the eighth Doctor.
And speaking of Doctor number eight, I absolutely love what Big Finish have done with him of late, complemented as he is by Sheridan Smith’s Lucie. From what Briggs was saying in Beyond the Vortex, I’d be very surprised if the formidable McGann / Smith team didn’t return to BBC7 in the very near future to vanquish both the monsters and those Sunday blues, and
should this calibre of production can be maintained, then I’ll be looking forward to it almost as much as I am the next televised season.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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