THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO
DRAMAS "THE EIGHT
TRUTHS" AND "DEATH
BIG FINISH 8TH DOCTOR
CD#3.8 (ISBN 1-84435-
400-9) RELEASED IN
THE EARTH AND
EIGHT LEGS - GIANT
WORLD - ARE
TO TAKE OVER
THE DOCTOR TRIES
REPEL THE INVASION,
HOST TO THE
ONE. CAN SHE
FREE OF THE
WILL SHE BE LOST
CAN EARTH AVOID
A WORLDWIDE WEB?
COVER THE EARTH AND
THE EIGHT LEGS - GIANT
SPIDERS FROM THAT
DISTANT WORLD - ARE
POISED TO TAKE OVER
AS THE DOCTOR TRIES
TO REPEL THE INVASION,
LUCIE FINDS HERSELF
PLAYING HOST TO THE
GREAT ONE. CAN SHE
BREAK FREE OF THE
OR WILL SHE BE LOST
AND CAN EARTH AVOID
BEING TRAPPED FOREVER
IN A WORLDWIDE WEB?
13TH JUNE 2009 - 20TH JUNE 2009
(2 EPISODES, PARTS 3 & 4 OF 4)
Worldwide Web, the long-awaited finale to this third season of eighth Doctor
and Lucie adventures, takes the story begun in The Eight Truths and drives it to a thrilling and inspired climax.
Eddie Robson’s script is teeming with all the ingenuity and all the humour that have made most of his earlier efforts so very popular. This story is perhaps most similar to his unrivalled Human Resources in terms of style and tone, the principal difference between the two being that Worldwide Web is much bigger in the significance stakes as this story sees a full-scale, insidious invasion of Earth.
As the first episode opens, the so-called ‘Eight Legs’ from Metabelis 3 have a firm foothold on Earth. Goodman’s Eight Truths cult in tandem with some mass-produced crystals have allowed them to possess countless human beings, including the Doctor’s companion, Lucie Miller – their new ‘Great One’.
Robson portrays the Eight Legs very much in line with how Barry Letts and Robert Sloman did when they created them in Planet of the Spiders, back in 1974. However, Robson does flesh out their history and evolution much more satisfactorily (and if not more satisfactorily, certainly much more clearly) than Letts and Sloman did.
The Eight Legs are also realised splendidly well, aurally speaking. Sound designer Martin Johnson has really managed to make them sound unerringly close to how they did thirty-odd years ago, with the voices of the relevant ‘possessed’ characters modulated in precisely the same way.
“You never get mind controlled or anything. It’s not fair.”
Furthermore, I love what Robson does in this story with Lucie. Rather than have her wander around with a spider on her back as Sarah Jane did back in the day, he has her conscious-ness digitised and e-mailed off to ‘Eight Leg Heaven’ while the Great One runs amok in her mortal remains. Sheridan Smith has clearly had a ball here playing both the disembodied Lucie and the Great One; the sequence where the Doctor ‘downloads’ Lucie from Eight Leg Heaven into the TARDIS memory bank is absolute gold.
It is Paul McGann’s Doctor
that steals the show again,
however. Not only is Paul
dazzling in itself here, but
his being teamed up with
Kerry Godliman’s Karen
and Stephen Moore’s (The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) Goodman creates a lively new dynamic, really making for some riotous audio drama.
Sophie Winkleman (Peep Show, Red Dwarf: Back to Earth) also impresses once again, her character portrayed a little more sympathetically in these two episodes than it had been in the last two. Listening to Worldwide Web, it struck me just how distinguished Winkleman’s stunning voice is; how it is so perfectly suited to an aural production of this type. One could
of course say the same about her looks and the screen, but the point still stands...
“What’s her real name...? We need something of the real her... Why wouldn’t she tell me?”
The play’s conclusion I found very rewarding. Robson ties up all the threads rather neatly, but in doing so he still manages to drop a few bombs. The Headhunter’s noble (and surprisingly stirring) end came as a real surprise to me; after all, the character had just reached the sort of level where she was starting be perceived as one of the major archenemies of the Doctor, or at least of this particular incarnation. Talk about leaving them wanting more…
One thing that Robson doesn’t nail down though is Karen’s fate, which I thought was an interesting choice. I have warmed to this character very much recently, particularly across these two conjoined two-parters, and I would be most keen to see her return in the future. And as the Doctor promises to check up on her at some point (presumably to check that she’s not become the totalitarian dictator that she was once fated to become!), it might be not be all that long before she does.
The story’s ultimate conclusion is a lovely little tease as to what is to come, Lucie suggesting to the Doctor that they head to Blackpool for Christmas. It’s a shame though that they didn’t cut the dialogue just before Lucie said the word ‘Blackpool’ – it would have been a wonderful little nod to Revelation of the Daleks and the upcoming Lost Stories season.
And so in all, Worldwide Web (and the preceding Eight Truths) is a story that I unequivocally recommend to those that haven’t subscribed to the whole season already. Sit yourself down with a packet of Dr Kargs and a hearty brew, and enjoy the superb performances; first-rate production; and a story so very good and so very now that it beggars belief its writer hasn’t been snaffled by the television series yet.
On a more general note, this year’s staggered download releases have certainly done what they set out to do and helped to fill a great hole in the absence of the television series. And though next year McGann and Smith will be up against stiff competition from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan on television, I get the feeling that there is still a hell of distance left to run for the team of the eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller...
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
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