Friday, 30 September 2016

216 - MAKER OF DEMONS

The Doctor is a good guy, on the side of the angels, always doing things for the greater good with the best of intentions. But isn’t there a phrase about the road to hell being paved by good intentions? (answer YES THERE IS) and this phrase is very very apt when applied to this months main range release.
 The Seventh Doctor in this trilogy isn’t quite the master manipulator he becomes in seasons 25, 26 & beyond, but neither is he the clown from Season 24 – he is a work in progress still trying to work out who he is and still believing in a universal good as is evidenced by the pre credits where he an Mel aid human colonists from their Colony ship The Duke of Milan find a new colony world, make peace with the indigenous population “The Mogera” and discover a new source of energy, a mineral hubristically named “Doctorium”. The day is won, peace is attained an all happy ever after before the credits even roll. Of course, its not that simple….
 Precisely 100 years later The Doctor, now travelling with Ace and Mel decides to go back to the colony of Prosper to see how it getting on, he expects a paradise, but the paradise has been lost if indeed it ever really existed – the humans are at war with the Mogera, the Mogera have mutated from meek mole like creatures into frenzied armoured battle trolls. And this hell on Prosper is all the fault of the good intentions of The Doctor.
 We don’t get often see the repercussions of The Doctor’s interference in the affairs of planets, and this story is a real wake up call to him, a picture he does not often see because in all the stories where he saves the day what really does happen after he has ridden of into the sunset. Are there hundreds of planets all over the universe where the good intentions have gone to hell in a handcart  ? makes you wonder…
 I like a Doctor Who story that makes me think and this really does make you re-evaluate past triumphs. But there is more to this story than the mistakes of the past, oh yes indeed there is, to begin with this is a very very smart story and very cleverly written. 396 words in and only now I mention Shakespeare and I may as well throw in Shakespearian as well because it is; not overtly, not written in iambic pentameter or anything, but this story is heavily inspired by The Tempest. Just look at the names of the characters Miranda, Caliban, Alonso, Gonzalo & the planet is named Prosper – its not a direct reimagining or retelling, but it really has the ambiance of the Tempest – and each character has a line of Shakespearian dialogue thrown in as well, its a joy to listen to and to pick up the references. If you are not that much of a Shakespeare aficionado then the references are so subtle that they will not spoil your enjoyment of the piece.
 The story allows both companions time to breathe and develop at their own pace as Ace & Mel are split up for 80% of the story – Mel being partnered with The Doctor and the crew of the Duke of Milan trying to resolve the war situation, Ace is partnered with Mogera warrior Taipa (Ewan Goddard) who really does go on a journey of character development from generic snarling beast to, well, you will just have to listen to the story to find out. And as for the Seventh Doctor, this can really be seen as another building block in his development from clown to manipulator, its subtle and its slow, but the changes are there especially in the last part of episode 3 and all of episode 4, his experience on Prosper seems to harden him and make him more remote.
 A sprawling epic, a cautionary tale, a picture of greed and selfishness and the legacy of Machiavelli and an homage to Shakespeare all on two shiny CD’s – to quote the bard “We are such stuff as dreams are made on” – and this is a bit more of a late summer nights nightmare than a Midsummer Nights dream, but is a tale that needed to be told 9/10.