Reviewed By: adamelijah
Review Date: 3/27/15 9:19 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
As Doctor Who's thirtieth anniversary approached, the show had been gone from television for four years. So this serial was a welcomed addition for Whovians reading novels and watching reruns. The story starred Jon Pertwee as the third doctor, nineteen years after Pertwee had left the role. He was joined by Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Nick Courtney as the Brigadier.
In many ways this story and its successor were a precursor to Big Finish's Doctor Who line. While Tom Baker had starred with Sladen in an Audio Drama record, Doctor Who and the Pescatons and Colin Baker had starred in Slipback, both of whom were incumbents in the role. This serial featured an untold story of "an old doctor" something which has become a hallmark of Big Finish's tales.
Pertwee is just as good as ever as the Doctor. Only in a few places does his voice show age. Elizabeth Sladen brings Sarah Jane Smith to life with her characteristic grit and spunk. Nick Courtney was never better as the Brigadier though the way the story's written, it seems like U.N.I.T. has been cut back to just him and the Doctor.
At any rate, U.N.I.T. (i.e. the Doctor and the Brigadier) are called into investigate when a man is killed at a theme park featuring alien creatures with Sarah Jane Smith and here friend Jeremy tagging along. They find the owners are aliens but on the record with that with the U.N. However, when Sarah Jane is investigating and is abducted by the aliens, the doctor follows them to their homeworld of Parakon and find out that it's not the paradise the corporation led people to believe.
The story has a lot of interesting concepts and we get a sample of writer Barry Letts (who produced Doctor in the 1970s) freed from budgets restraints of in the theater of the mind. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's a good thing. After episode three, there were so many plot elements put in that it was really hard to follow. Listening to Episode 1, it would have been fair to expect a story about the theme park, "Space World." Yet, the characters leave Space World and never return. Instead, we're thrown about from one situation from another, to the out of touch President of Parakon to the housekeeper who is actually someone else to a tribe of peaceful people who make non-lethal weapons.
This definitely is a message story and the problem is that there are too many messages. The early part of the serial sounded like this was a story about the dangers of video games and VR and then it became a dystopian story about political corruption, degradation of culture and the cheapening of the value of human life by exploitation entertainment, then it turns into a story about the environment and getting back to nature. Some of these messages may be good but it's hard to care about any of them, the way the story was cluttered up.
On top of that, I should add that Jeremy is annoying (though thankfully he's not on air too often) and the scene with Sarah Jane being threatened by the sleezy alien was somewhat uncomfortable and unpleasant for me.
This is far from a bad story. There are some great moments, but to be a truly solid serial, it needed to be more focused. And to be a great serial, it didn't need the inclusion of Jeremy.