Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 10/15/17 4:16 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Yes, this story and "The Gathering" function together as a sort of prequel to "The Harvest", but it's really not necessary to have heard the heard that story first. "The Harvest" is a complete and self-contained story. "The Reaping" and "The Gathering" don't add anything of value. They just provide a tortuously convoluted answer to a continuity question no one ever asked ("How was System developed?").
I'm not going to try to convince anyone that Joseph Lidster is a bad writer. He's written several extremely popular stories for Big Finish, and went on to contribute scripts to "Torchwood" and "The Sarah Jane Adventures". That kind of success speaks for itself. But I hate most of his work, and I don't think I hate any of it as much as I hate "The Reaping". To me, it sounds like an incredibly amateurish attempt to copy the style of the new series. And it does what Lidster has done several times before... it introduces brand new characters that we have no connection to, and expects us to care about them because they are important to an existing character. This never works. It didn't work with Liam in "The Rapture", it didn't work with Gemma and Samson in "Terror Firma", and it doesn't work with Kathy and Janine here.
It's hard to avoid talking about "The Reaping" and "The Gathering" as a unit. They were clearly conceived and developed in tandem, and neither really works on its own. But most of the connections between them are contrived, like the fact that both adventures begin at the Goggle Box. Worst of all is the whole "8687" business. Not only is a corny in-joke and a cheap copy of the "Bad Wolf" concept from the TV series, but it serves no narrative purpose. But then, neither of these stories is particularly concerned with story. It would have worked much better as a single release done in the style of "Project: Lazarus". The main concern of these scripts is the character drama, which would be fine if it wasn't handled so artlessly.
This story is clearly trying to do an "Aliens of London" (another story where the alien plot took a back seat to the character drama), but it doesn't come close. Farting aliens aside, that script does an excellent job of balancing the two sides of the story without them getting in each other's way. I don't think I appreciated how good "Aliens of London" really is until I heard this.
There is some interesting stuff happening with the Cyberman story, once we finally get around to it. The Doctor tricking the Cyberleader by taking him to Mondas in 1984 was a clever resolution to the plot. That's good continuity... it draws on the history of the series in a way that serves the story. But then we get the epilogue, which is just horrible. The death of Janine is arbitrary, pointless, and so poorly presented that I howled with uncontrollable laughter the first time I heard it. I could not believe what I was hearing.