|The Lost Stories|
Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot), Susan Brown (Babs)
There were certainly a few raised eyebrows when Big Finished announced Prison in Space for the second Lost Stories season. It was a script largely (in)famous for its sexual politics and particularly the renowned spanking scene. With great commitment to historical accuracy (and at Frazer Hines' insistence), BF recreated the script largely as-was, spanking scene included.
Possibly I wouldn't have bought this release if I hadn't wanted every other release included in the Series 2 subscription. The premise sounded very much like those 60s stories (not confined to Who) which we look back on with a jestful roll of the eyes and sympathetic embarassment.
And, in fact, that's basically what it is. But importantly what it's not is offensive. Understanding the context in which the story is being released, I don't think anyone's going to find themselves actively put off by the content, and indeed BF have made some wise, deft alterations, shifting the most troublesome lines from the Doctor to Jamie, allowing the voice of the story itself - largely that of the Doctor - to disown the remarks. Jamie, like the script itself, being from a simpler time. There is, perhaps, one exception: Almost every description of a girl mentions she's 'pretty' and twice when there's a pair of girls, the second is 'more pretty'. Then Babs, the old woman, looks like a toad, and Alice, the prison warden, is a butch stereotype. This is the only place where I felt the adaptation could have done to rein in - where it felt like a flaw in the adaptation, and not the historical item.
Having dealt with the 500 pound Gorrillephant in the room, what of the story itself? Well, the concept isn't offensive, but it's not exactly compelling either, just amusingly retro. The plot conforms to the shape of standard Troughton era escapades. And yet it's a lot of fun. The interplay between the regular cast is as light and enjoyable as their very best TV moments, and the plot dresses its well-worn frame up with nonstop hilarious shenanigans. It's impossible not to have fun listening to them - And this is helped none the least by the absolute omnipresence of the spirit of Pat. Frazer Hines, as he's now somewhat famed for in the Companion Chronicles, truly seems to channel Troughton's essence, but even beyond that, he's been captured in the writing as perfectly as if he'd been filmed. You don't have to imagine him capering, emoting and getting into scrapes; I defy anyone listening to claim the images didn't project themselves into their minds clear as day regardless.
Susan Brown also does admirable work camping up Chairman Babs. When you have a character as preposterous as this, there's really nowhere else to go with it, so she has a rollicking time and it glows through.
At this point it's worth noting that though I found a few quirks in the narration of Farewell Great Macedon, I never noticed it during Prison in Space. It flows smoothly from start to finish.
Equally important as the joyful character interplay and adventures is the sound design and direction. Darlington and Robertson (for the former) and Lisa Bowerman (for the latter) deserve much, much credit for filling this story with the feel of the era. For a story which is, with its silliness and its politics, so very much of the time, it truly thrives on having been made to FEEL that way.
So, on the whole, I find myself surprised just hwo much I enjoyed this. Yes, the concept is incredibly questionable, sure, the story is nothing new, but by crikey it's fun all the same. 7/10
PRISON IN SPACE - #1
There is a reason why some Doctor Who stories are lost and therefore should remain lost. However there probably is a different reason why the BBC never produced Prison in Space compared to my reason; which means I'm either going to contradict myself or talk bullocks... what a grate way to start my first review!
I suppose the main reason why I got THE SECOND DOCTOR BOX SET was for the fantastic performance and impersonation of Patrick Troughton, which MR. Frazer Hines can do exceptionally well. But when I realised that it was going to be "light-hearted", unrealistic and had no substantial plot to it, I kind of... prolonged it?
So I took a different approach to it. Instead of complaining and ranting on about the attention span I had for this story; which by the way was about this much (...) after part three of listening to it I decided that instead of focusing on the plot, narrative (whatever) I would focus on...let's say...the "behind the scenes" aspect of it.
The acting in this audio is really good, how Hines can differentiate between The Doctor and Jamie is so quick and snappy; its really entertaining to listen to. Susan Brown also suites Chairman Babs perfectly as her performance is so vivid and done really well, however my only real problem is at some points its hard to understand who is saying what as both Frazer and Wendy differ from dialogue to description in the same voice, which is at some points confusing. The soundtrack and noises for doors and guns is one of the best bits as it really captures that era of Doctor Who. It also helps the listener realise that it is one of those comical who's that are either cheesy, annoying or stupid but weirdly Prison in Space was neither I put this down to the director Lisa Bowerman whom has done this audio justice by not letting it fall under those categories.
But I cannot help but notice on how sexist this story is. It probably suited the era in when it was written but nowadays this story could have been taken offence, this also proves on how unrealistic the story is, I know its sci-fi but even then that far into the future surely they would have abolished hierarchy and "superior" and "inferior" stuff.
Like I said before your attention span goes in part three as nothing really happens where as in part one and part two where considerably better than three and four this is mainly down to the pace of the story slowing down half way through part two.
Overall a job well done by Big Finish but sadly a poor story with very sexist and unrealistic themes set a comical and boring Doctor Who. A good cast and soundtrack but apart from that I would only recommend this to people who really love this era of Who and Hines's excellent impersonation of the second doctor.
6/10 (I'm being nice!)
Review by: IM ON MY PERIOD :D
A wonderful realisation of a dreadful story - holds your interests, but reminds you why some of these stories were 'lost' in the first place.