Friday 30 October 2015

The Early Adventures 2.2 - The Forsaken

Bless em all bless em all bless em all, the long and the short an the tall…” ah memories English Literature GCSE with Mr Hughes in about 1987, we studied a play called The Long and the Short & The Tall by Willis Hall. A tense “base under siege” play in which British troops are lost in the jungle hiding out from the Japanese Army, I always remember with a shudder the closing of act one where the Japanese voice over the radio says “we you come to get”
But why am I reminiscing about school days and old plays? Well this months Early Adventures release reminded me very much of The Long & The Short & The Tall. Set during the evacuation of Singapore a group of British Soldiers and several civilians await rescue whilst the Japanese army advances. Throw into this a certain Private James Jackson and a figure that looks like the Grim Reaper and you have a classic Troughton Base Under Siege Story. And boy is it a good one!
First of all – yes , Private Jackson is Ben’s father – well, he will be, because this is a set a year or so before Ben is born. Apart from the initial realisation and a joke at the end, not much is made of this, which really works within the context of the story as there is a time for emotional reunions and there is a time for action – and with the residents of the Hotel beginning to be killed off, this really is a time for action.
Secondly this plays a little differently from the normal “base under siege” – the Japanese are advancing and bombing, however they are far away enough not to be the main threat, that threat is a figure that looks like the Grim Reaper, stalking the halls of the Hotel and slowly, one by one, feeding off the fear of the inhabitants and literally frightening them to death. The problem is the monster is a shape-shifter, so no-one knows his or her true identity, which leads to some really tense scenes.
Anneke Wills takes on the role of Narrator for this tale as well as playing Polly, and Frazer Hines excels as Jamie and The Second Doctor with Elliott Chapman as an uncanny Ben Jackson. Add to the mix Gabrielle Glaister (who will eternally be Bob in Blackadder), Ben Nealon, Michael Jibson and Oliver Jackson (as Private Jackson), and you have the perfect traditional base under siege (albeit from within) small cast – getting smaller by the episode! – a nasty monster and the even bigger threat of the Japanese invasion. The long and the short of it is that I give it 9/10.

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