THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE AFTER THE BIG
PRIOR TO THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMA
BIG FINISH 8TH DOCTOR
CD#4.05 (ISBN 1-8443
5-479-5) RELEASED IN
Millions of years
ago, the noble Ice
Warriors fled to
Deimos, A moon of
Mars, hoping to sit
out the radioactive
death throes of their
home planet. When
the TARDIS lands on
Deimos, the Doctor
discovers that the
catacombs are now
a popular stop for
But the Martian
dynasties are FAR
more than history,
and the Warriors
are far from BEING
extinct. It's not for
nothing that 'Deimos'
is the ancient word
(2 EPISODES, PARTS 1 & 2 OF 4)
It must have taken nearly the length of the first episode for me to appreciate the irony of the situation; perhaps my synapses were half-frozen. There I was, half asleep at half seven in the morning, wading through nearly four feet of snow and listening to an audio play that told of how the Ice Warriors had awoken from their slumber and were planning to freeze their former homeworld. They should have just come to England. Deimos heralds the return of the green-scaled nasties, and this time they’ve brought the weather with them.
The first two episodes of Jonathan Morris’ star-studded Martian epic are deceptively low-key. The story opens in the Ice Warrior catacombs on the Martian moon of Deimos, now a museum dedicated to their culture, where a couple of freshly-woken Ice Warriors have been mistaken for a couple of fellers in rubber suits promoting the exhibition. From there, Morris gradually cranks up the tension, taking us from ‘shuttle under siege’ to ‘base under siege’, and then finally to a quarter of a million human colonists facing oblivion and the return of a familiar face who’s apparently turned heel. In terms of pace and tone, Deimos put me very much in mind of relatively recent televised episodes such as Bad Wolf and Army of Ghosts, in that it begins just like any other adventure, but by its end all the players are in place for an almighty showdown.
Morris also does a terrific job with both the Doctor and Tamsin here. The script allows Paul McGann to play the eighth Doctor at his swaggering best, confident and capable until two last-minute developments leave him reeling. Tamsin plays her part well too, blundering into gaffe after gaffe with see-through bluffs, awful suggestions and even worse dancing. It’s no surprise that she languished for so long playing ill-fated demi-reps in tacky Ripper museums instead of winning glitzy roles on stage and on screen. Indeed, it’s hard not to be impressed by how a talented actress such as Niky Wardley can so convincingly portray a poor one! Of course, Tamsin lends this story a lot of human heart too - her moral musings are pained and convincing, serving as a very effective contrast to McGann’s gung-ho space-suit adventuring.
The story’s supporting characters
are a rather impressive bunch too.
Superficially, they’re little more than
a horde of genre stereotypes, but a
combination of quirky writing and
passionate performances really
help to shatter the mould. David
Warner is as charismatic as ever,
this time in the guise of stuffy old
professor Boston Schooner. The
Omen star might always be best
remembered for his acclaimed
film and television work, but I always find him even more effective an actor in this medium.
Here, for example, he vests his mad professor come gun-wielding fanatic with real gravity
and menace, and a fair bit of pity too. His regal tones are so idiosyncratic, yet capable of
conveying so much.
Tracy-Ann Oberman (Army of Ghosts / Doomsday) is almost as good in the role of Captain Temperance Finch. Oberman portrays the crabby commander with all the hard-hearted grit of her memorable Torchwood Supremo, but without any of the glamour. It’s a lovely, layered performance, as over the course of the two episodes Finch’s veneer begins to slip and the character’s vulnerability is exposed before her subordinates. Perhaps most extraordinary of all though is the performance of Big Finish Executive Producer Nicholas Briggs, who once again takes a faceless foe and carves a compelling character of him. I’m glad I’m not in the monster-voice game, because there’s no competition anymore.
Deimos does its job well – by the end of Part 2, the listener can’t wait for The Resurrection of Mars and all that comes with it. Even the CD Extras conclude with a cruel cliffhanger, as an important actress is cut-off mid-sentence, just as she’s about to let slip what’s to come. “And then…”
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
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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