THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMAS
"DEAD LONDON" AND
"BRAVE NEW TOWN."
BIG FINISH 8TH DOCTOR
CD#2.2 (ISBN 1-84435-
305-7) RELEASED IN
When a test
a web of murder
or something – is
war between the
fate of the
hope to uncover
SO STRAP YOURSELF IN,
When a test flight ends in disaster,
the Sirius Exhibition
Station is plunged
into a web of murder
and intrigue. Someone
– or something – is
trying to re-ignite
a war between the
Varlon Empire and
the Kith Oligarchy.
fate of the
balance, only two
Doctor and Lucie,
can hope to uncover
SO STRAP YOURSELF IN,
ENGAGE THRUST, AND
PREPARE FOR... MAX
Max Warp is inevitably going to down as one of those love ‘em or hate ‘em sort
of jobs. Listeners who insist that their monthly dose of eighth Doctor must be crammed with death and disaster will no doubt loathe Jonathan Morris’ whimsical offering, but I believe that
such listeners will be in the minority.
Unsurprisingly, Morris’ story reminded me of his script for Flip-Flop, chiefly in terms of the darkly comic but very detailed world that he builds. On balance though, this one probably
has much more in common with audio dramas like The One Doctor and BANG-BANG-A-BOOM! If you liked those, then you will love this.
Whoever it was on the CD Extras that
described Max Warp as “Top Gear in
space meets Agatha Christie” has hit
the nail right on the head. A shameless
and often downright uproarious parody
of Top Gear, Max Warp casts Paul
McGann’s Doctor in the familiar role of
sleuth, investigating the apparent death of Max Warp presenter Timbo (Duncan James from
Blue) in a suspicious spaceship crash. Meanwhile Sheridan Smith’s ‘Lucie Vauxhall Nova’
steps into the breach left by Timbo, joining the bumbling O’Reilly (James Fleet of The Vicar
of Dibley fame) and the
misogynistic, arrogant and opinionated
Vantage (former Goodie Graeme Garden) as the new co-presenter of Max Warp. It certainly isn’t hard to see why the Big Finish production team fell in love with this pitch!
In contrast to last month’s Dead London, the Doctor and Lucie are together for most of this episode and they share some moments of peril, although these generally end hilariously – the spaceship crash that is really inside a simulator, and the robotic ‘spindroid’ that really is a man in a suit (which Lucie didn’t think looked “very convincing” anyway) particularly spring to mind.
McGann and Smith
are both absolutely outstanding in this episode, Smith perhaps slightly
outdoing McGann as the story panders more to the humour of her character
- her scenes with
I think what stands out most of all about the episode though is the redolent sound design. Andy Hardwick has rustled up the most exquisite little theme tune for Max Warp; it has a
sort of Men and Motors feel to it. In fact, some of the chords are so close to the Top Gear theme tune that he’s risking litigation! More than that though, the west country accents of the Kith Oligarchy, the farcically-retro spindroid voices, the alien karaoke (available to listen to
in full on the CD Extras), not to mention the roar of the spaceship engines “entering max warp” really help to paint a vibrant and distinctive picture in the listener’s mind – no small
feat considering what a visual episode Max Warp actually is.
The real beauty of producing a series of these stand-alone episodes though must be that they can easily appeal to casual Doctor Who fans, and potentially even non-fans. There are no overhanging story arcs to be found here and no prior knowledge is required, something that I feel is demonstrated by Briggs and Edwards’ casually shuffling the season’s running order without the need for rewrites. Indeed, my fiancée’s Granddad, a non Doctor Who fan but a Top Gear devotee, would most certainly revel in this glorious pastiche of one of his favourite shows. I know what he’s getting for Christmas…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
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