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Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes

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2010-06 SFX p131.jpg

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  • Publication: SFX
  • Date: June 2010
  • Author: Saxon Bullock
  • Page: 131
  • Language: English

THE HOLLOWS OF TIME

Big Finish 120 mins (two discs) £12.99 (download)/£14.99 (CD) OUT NOW! ★★☆☆☆1/2


SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Big Finish 120 mins (two discs) £12.99 (download)/£14.99 (CD) OUT NOW! ★★★★☆


THE SUFFERING

Big Finish 135 mins (two discs) £12.99 (download)/£14.99 (CD) OUT NOW! ★★★☆☆1/2


How important are explanations? Over the years, Doctor Who has occasionally flirted with ambiguity, weirdness and outright confusion, and the latest in Big Finish's Lost Stories series. The Hollows Of Time, fits comfortably into the "head-scratching oddness" category, alongside tales like "The Mind Robber" and "Ghost Light".

Hailing from ex-Who script editor Christopher H Bidmead, this unmade TV script from 1985 brings back the Tractators, gravity-wielding insects previously seen in Bidmead's 1984 gem "Frontios". Told in flashback, it's a gently paced adventure, as the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) encounter strangeness in the sleepy village of Hollowdean, where creatures lurk in the nearby sand-dunes.

Baker and Bryant are on outstanding form, and the story has plenty of old-fashioned charm - but charm only gets you so far, and Bidmead's aimless, frustrating story mistakes confusion and weirdness for genuine mystery. The adaptation tries hard to paper over the lack of visuals but there's still a ton of over-descriptive dialogue. Despite the best efforts of the cast and production team, it's the first genuine misfire of the Lost Stories series.

Things improve with the regular releases, as Survival Of The Fittest sees the latest Big Finish trilogy hitting its stride, as the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is once again paired with Nazi time-traveller Dr Elizabeth Klein (Tracey Childs). First on the disc is the one-parter Klein's Story, which fills in some all-important history on the Doctor's latest companion. Charting exactly how Klein was separated from her original Nazi-controlled timeline, it's powerfully played stuff, and while the presence of Paul McGann (in the pivotal role of "Johann Schmidt") is a bit of a giveaway, there are still some nicely played twists, as well as an emotional sting in the tail.

Survival Of The Fittest itself is rather more traditional Who, a three-part adventure that puts the Doctor and Klein in the firing line between alien insects and a pair of trigger-happy humans. It's a well-paced and involving thriller with some fine sci-fi world-building, but what lifts it into exceptional territory is the characterisation, as both Klein and the Doctor are forced into making difficult moral choices. It all builds to a whopper of a cliffhanger.

Elsewhere, The Companion Chronicles goes double-length for the first time, giving us a two-disc First Doctor story featuring '60s companions Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) and Steven (Peter Purves). Splitting the perspectives between the discs (with Steven on the first, and Vicki on the second), The Suffering is a historically-themed tale that sees the TARDIS landing in 1912 England, at the height of the Suffragette movement's struggle to win women the right to vote.

With the discovery of fossilised remains resulting in Vicki being possessed by a mysterious intelligence, the story owes an initial debt to 1976 Who "The Hand Of Fear", but The Suffering does head in its own distinct direction, mixing sci-fi with social history and pulling off plenty of impressive moments. It's another example of how effective old-school Doctor Who storytelling can still be.

Also available this month, from BBC Audio, is a CD of Terrance Dicks's novelisation of 1973's "The Three Doctors", read by Katy Manning.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Bullock, Saxon (June 2010). Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes. SFX p. 131.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Bullock, Saxon. "Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes." SFX [add city] June 2010, 131. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Bullock, Saxon. "Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes." SFX, edition, sec., June 2010
  • Turabian: Bullock, Saxon. "Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes." SFX, June 2010, section, 131 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Nasty_Nazis,_tricky_Tractators_and_sufferin%27_suffragetes | work=SFX | pages=131 | date=June 2010 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Nasty Nazis, tricky Tractators and sufferin' suffragetes | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Nasty_Nazis,_tricky_Tractators_and_sufferin%27_suffragetes | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024}}</ref>