THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMAS
"THE SKULL OF SOBEK"
AND "THE ZYGON WHO
FELL TO EARTH."
BIG FINISH 8TH DOCTOR
CD#2.5 (ISBN 1-84435-
306-4) RELEASED IN
Doctor and Lucie
the DIAMOND is
The Doctor and Lucie
visit 19TH century
Sweden and become
embroiled in an
attempt to steal
AN infamous Black
But the DIAMOND is
guarded by forces
not of this world...
Grand Theft Cosmos
One morning last week I spent my commute to work familiarising myself with Big Finish’s new podcasts which, I have to say, I enjoyed immensely. The effort that they have
put and are continuing to put into to their new website and download service is staggering. Regrettably though, my own monthly subscription was taken out before this February and
so, for the moment at least, I have to wait to get my hands on the monthly releases the old-fashioned way. Happily though, the release of Grand Theft Cosmos saw the ‘downloads’ section of my Big Finish account credited with the MP3 tracks well before I’d received the CD. I can see myself warming to this new “download first to listen / CD later for the shelf” approach. There’s a lot to be said for instant sunshine.
And as for the play itself, it’s a cracker. Eddie
Robson’s script is a rip-roaring criminal caper
that pits the Doctor and Lucie against Karen
and the Headhunter (both characters returning
from last year’s Human Resources) in a race
to steal the Black Diamond of Claudio Tardelli.
It’s exuberant and enthralling and, more often
than not, downright uproarious.
I think one of the reasons that Grand Theft Cosmos works so well is that in writing it, Robson doesn’t appear to have thrown the Doctor Who rulebook out of the window and tried to write an outright comedy. His story is incredibly well thought out and (so far as Doctor Who stories go, at least) entirely plausible. Robson even goes to the trouble of crafting a back story for the Doctor and Tardelli, affording the episode just that extra little bit of weight. It seems that the Time Lord has encountered the rogue dimensional engineer before, when he thwarted his plot to exert some undue influence over the Pope! In essence, Grand Theft Cosmos is
a sequel to a story never seen.
Furthermore, as well as being extremely well-written, Grand Theft Cosmos is populated with a dazzling cast of characters. Inevitably it’s the Headhunter (once again played by Big Finish stalwart Katarina Olsson), Karen (Louise Fullerton), the Doctor (Paul McGann), and Lucie (Sheridan Smith) that carry the piece, but that isn’t to suggest that the likes of Christopher Benjamin’s Tardelli and particularly Colin Spaull’s Henrik are completely overshadowed. Indeed, Spaull gives a particularly alluring performance – here is a man whose voice was born for audio.
As the play is so vibrant and
dynamic, I was astonished to
learn that due to commitments
elsewhere Smith had to record
her lines in isolation. Listening
to the episode I never suspected
a thing; it’s all so very fluent. In
Lucie’s magnificent brawl with the Headhunter, for example, it sounds just like Nick Briggs had stood next to Smith and Olsson with a microphone as they wrestled about on the floor beating the bejesus out of one another.
“I should have known you’d set your dog on me!”
It should be noted that Grand Theft Cosmos is an especially impressive outing for Lucie. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of Smith’s best performances to date. In one line she is spouting dialogue in her native northern accent about kids back home throwing chips at her head on busses (pure gold!), and then in the next she’s putting on a posh accent and flirting with 19th century guards. Brilliant!
On a final note, I should say that I enjoyed the CD Extras a little more than usual this month. Briggs’ recap of the first season of eighth Doctor and Lucie audios was very enjoyable, as were Robson’s observations about his writing of the episode. Even McGann’s thoughts on Doctor Who’s rather nebulous continuity were rather entertaining in an amusing sort of way – it must be so strange being an actor, on the other side of the fence as it were, scratching your head and wondering what on earth all the bother is about!
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
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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