Monday, 24 September 2012
Audio Play: Doctor Who - Primeval
A decent if rather dull tale for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa (Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton) from experienced Who novelist and Big Finish first timer Lance Parkin. Nyssa is seriously ill and the Doctor brings her to the place he thinks will help her the best, her home planet Traken in the past (as the planet was destroyed by the machinations of the Master). Although having a sympathetic ally in Doctor Shayla (Susan Penhaligon), Traken back then was more superstitious than in Nyssa's time and they believe her malaise to be caused by the evil she's been subjected to in the Doctor's company. With the Council becoming increasingly hostile to the travellers, the Doctor and Shayla go to seek help from Kwundaar - a God like being and enemy of the Union of Traken - whom rumour has it can cure all. The devilish entity has a price it wants the Doctor to pay however. Will the Fifth Doctor risk the stability of the Union of Traken to save his young friend?
Let's just put this out there - while a very well realised Doctor Who society, Traken is one of the most boring planets Who ever visited. With their Shakespearean outfits and mannerisms, endless gardens and state of perfection, Traken is as dull as a weekend in Surrey. Faced with a trip to the garden to feed a Melkur, a visit to the velvet jerkin store or a discussion as to why Traken is so bloody perfect I'm not surprised the Master did away with it - it could be one of his few charitable acts. True to form, this past Traken is just as boring, with another dull Council and endless talking about The Source, the Traken's energy machine. Perhaps here, that's the point: Parkin offsets the 'perfect' Trakenites with those who do not get to share their wealth or security, the piratical group of Kwundaar. This entity is well realised aurally, with some spooky sound distortion and a thoroughly evil turn by Stephen Greif. The Doctor screams when he sees its face so it's worse than a Rill and Colin Baker.
The first half of the play is the duller, with the Doctor trying to get Nyssa help inbetween going for walks with Shayla. Meanwhile Nyssa gets a few headaches, gets occasionally giddy and tries to entice young Sabian into the local hot tubs - you little minx, you. Things pick up once the Doctor gets off Traken and to Kwundaar's ship and especially when he accidentally causes the defences of Traken to be weakened, allowing the evil entity's forces to invade. To stop Kwundaar, the Doctor will have to battle him in The Source while Nyssa must strip off to her swimming costume and do a spot of the doggie paddle. There's some guff about Kwundaar being the God of Traken and, if Traken history truly fascinates you (get out more) we find out how the Keepers were first created. Primeval is fine but just a little too good at conveying some of the tedium of the early John Nathan-Turner era.
GK Rating: **