Friday, November 13, 2015

Big Finish Audio Drama Capsule Reviews: Assassin in the Limelight, Criss Cross, Rat Trap

Assassin in the Limelight: I really enjoyed the Robert Knox mini-arc. Knox buys a bootleg TARDIS (a Type 70, compared to the Doctor's Type 40) and tries grifting his way through history.

This was a fun little episode. In the CD extras, the creators and performers are all unaccountably proud of their knowledge of American history, and their American accents. Lincoln's assassination is one of the most influential events in the history of the nation, and, as usual, no one involved with Big Finish can even approximate any kind of convincing American accent. Not that I don't like the story. I quite do. These just seemed to be odd things to be crowing about.

John Wilkes Booth is reading for “Oscar Wilde” (Knox uses the aliases of actual figures of the day) he's to assassinate Lincoln. The Doctor interrupts his rehearsal, Booth complains and the Doctor is like ”Busy day ahead?”

It had great lines like "Lincoln's Lonely hearts club band"

It’s a small thing, but I liked the differences of the CIA’s credo “The story changes, but the ending stays the same” to the fixed points in time of the new series, which always struck me as such a lazy device.

Rating: 4/5

Criss-Cross: Criss-Cross was pretty great too. It introduces Constance Clark. As Clark Kent, Bruce Banner or Peter Parker would tell you, alliterative names are the best. Each Doctor has a companion that brings out their best. For Six it was Evelyn. Maggie Stables is sadly no longer with us, and while Constance Clark fills the same role of an older, confident companion not afraid to speak her mind. She’s not a carbon copy, and frankly I think it would be offensive to Maggie’s memory if she were, but she hits enough of the same notes to evoke her. As I’ve said before, I’m happy with any character who’s not an ingĂ©nue from modern London, (Yes, Flip, I’m looking at you) and a WWII codebreaker is quite distinctive. (Now we just need to introduce her to Elizabeth Klein…)

Miranda Raison can’t do an American accent to save her life, but she’s fine with her natural accent (or something close to it). Also, I like the turn of phrase she used to describe the character “Brave, but without being annoying spiffy-spunky."

Doctor Who’s science is usually garbage, but this one actually had some heft. A plot point hinged on the fact that radio waves don’t travel well under water. It was a solid story in its own right, and a great Launchpad for a new companion.

Rating: 4/5

Rat trap (or Doctor Who and the rats of Nihm): This is a decent 5th Doctor story. He comes off looking decent, even though he doesn’t get a huge amount of time on stage. Hmmm...I see that I've used "decent" twice in a row, but that's the kind of tepid praise it inspires.

I think the big problem with the script is how literal everything is. The rats make human captives run in an oversized hamster wheel. That's a bit too on the nose for me.

Also, the Mara is probably the most interesting thing about Tegan, but man, can they go at least one story without mentioning it?

Rating: 2/5

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