Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Doctor Who: A Death in the Family review

Up until the advent of Matt Smith, Pat Troughton had been my favourite Doctor, but I have always had a soft spot for McCoy’s regeneration. I think he is underestimated (among non-Who fans at least). His Doctor became a much darker and manipulative figure than pervious incarnations, and with it became a much more interesting one.

I've dipped in and out of the previous Big Finish McCoy Whos, so only have a limited knowledge of the back story leading up to A Death In the Family. I’ve met the companion Hex on one other occasion, but the villain of the story was a new one on me. This was not a problem though, as he is introduced and explained perfectly as things unfold.
So, we begin in the usual Who fashion, with much running about and impending threat. But this is not your normal Who tale.
Episode one contains everything you’d normally expect from a four part adventure and really is plotted to the hilt by Steven Hall. It also ends on a pretty surprising cliff-hanger, which leads into the real story.
Now, obviously I can’t go into details without spoiling the plot, so I’ll try to limit my comments to things I can mention.
The writing for example. As I said of Deimos, this really is crammed full of plot.
I love my Who as much as the next man, but sometimes on TV, it can be plotted a bit… thinly. Not so here, where the producers cannot rely on visual spectacle to distract you from storytelling shortcomings. Here, if each scene doesn’t hit the mark, then things will quickly fall apart. But honestly, as a writer, I am very impressed by the standard of writing on this.
Acting next. McCoy knows his Doctor inside out and is as excellent as you would expect. Philip Oliver as Hex is also superb and gets some splendidly meaty scenes to sink his teeth into. I could go through them all and say all the cast are pretty much pitch perfect.
But I really want to single out Sophie Aldred. One of the episodes focuses on Ace and her part of the story. The performance she gives is incredible and really, it’s worth getting this story for this episode alone.
And yes, reading back on this it does sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. I really enjoyed this tale- and there have been some of the Big Finish range that have not impressed me at all- so I don’t feel bad about my rather positive review!

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