Sunday 20 September 2015

The Ghost Trap

Does anyone remember The Smiths? Surely you must do!  The apex of 1980’s alternative NME culture, Morrissey, Marr and the other two that no one remembers. I liked the Smiths in the 1980’s, which was odd, because I was (and still am) a card carrying Metal Head. My peer group mocked me for it, but I saw nothing wrong in a C90 (remember them?) cassette with Powerslave by Iron Maiden on one side and Meat is Murder by the Smiths on the other.  I was breaking an unwritten musical taboo – Metal & NME Music do not mix!  To me, good music was good music, and Morrissey’s mournful lyrics were every bit as powerful as Bruce Dickinson’s operatic hystrionics!! So the Smiths, they had a song called ‘Sweet and Tender Hooligan’, and a particular lyric from that song came into my mind whilst listening to The Ghost Trap – the lyric was “in the midst of life we are in death etc” because this story really is about that, it’s about Death.
Doctor Who has had its fair share of deaths over the years, but never really a story ABOUT death and dying – but this story is; it’s relentlessly grim and downbeat, mournful even.
The Doctor and Leela materialise on a deserted spaceship owned by the Hihmakk who are a secretive race of space mariners whose navigation skills make them the envy of the galaxy.  The ship is deleted, there crew are dead, but the ship has a symbiotic relationship with its crew and is in its final death throes. As they become separated & explore the ship, the Doctor and Leela are drawn further and further into the horror of the situation and have to come to a horrible decision – sometimes the Doctor cannot save everyone, sometimes he cannot save anyone…
Read by Louise Jameson, this is a short story, brought to life by her wonderful injection of tone and pace.  Louise makes it all so visual – I saw a dark “Gigeresque” organic ship, like a more industrial Zygon ship, a depressing, cold place full of memories and possibilities. I have said it before & I will no doubt say it again, but Louise is a joy to listen to.  She injects even the most bland scene with a sense of pace, colour and urgency – she really brings a downbeat story to life. So a story that really is about death, handled expertly by Louise Jameson.  A downbeat, thought provoking interlude of a story that at 30 minutes does not outstay its welcome.  Not really my cup of tea, but well written and brilliantly performed, and it got me listening to The Smiths again – overall 7/10.

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