Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 11/27/17 5:30 pm
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It's hard to avoid the impression that Big Finish is sort of clearing the decks with the eighth Doctor. I mean, this is the the first appearance of the eighth Doctor in the Main Range since the launch of his BBC7 series with Lucie Miller, and C'rizz gets written out. The next eighth Doctor release in the Main Range (the next Main Range release but one) will write out Charley. It feels like everything that Big Finish has done with the eighth Doctor is being quickly but firmly pushed aside to make way for Lucie Miller. I don't mind, exactly, because I do think that Charley and C'rizz have run their course, while Lucie is fresh and exciting. But it seems a bit abrupt.
And with respect to C'rizz, the abruptness of his exit really just highlights how poorly the character has been used overall. He never really amounted to much. There were ideas that were touched on along the way, particularly in "Terror Firma," that never really got adequately developed, let alone properly paid off. Of course, part of the problem with C'rizz is the limitations inherent in a non-humanoid companion. It really is a bit awkward. There are a lot of stories that you just can't do with C'rizz. In theory, you would think that there ought to be a lot of stories that you can only do with C'rizz, but the writers never managed to find any of those. So he ended up being used mainly in sci-fi stories where his distinguishing features didn't get in the way, and this made him feel generic and bland.
Scott Alan Woodard tries to wrap him up and give him a heroic send-off, but while I appreciate the effort, it just doesn't really come off. I could be way off base here, but it feels like C'rizz is sort of being shoe-horned into a story that wasn't necessarily designed for him. That is, rather than starting with "How to write out C'rizz" and building a story around that, it feels like Big Finish pointed to a story already in development and said "Oh, and by the way, would you write out C'rizz for us, please?" I'm only speculating, and perhaps I'm totally wrong, but that's how it feels to me.
And it's a real shame, because C'rizz gets a real corker of a heroic ending, but it just doesn't land. Heroic self-sacrifice is a common trope in "Doctor Who", of course, but it's not every day that a full-fledged companion gets to do it. The death of C'rizz should have tremendous impact, as Adric's did (no pun intended), but it doesn't, because the story is such a muddle. This is one of those stories where all manner of strange things are happening and nothing really gets explained until Part Four, and even then, the explanations aren't really very satisfactory. So by the end of the final episode, I was feeling pretty much the same as the Doctor. C'rizz is dead. Okay. So what's next?
I'll tell you what, though... having the Doctor react that way, and having Charley get upset, was a brilliant way to make an asset out of the audience's ambiguous feelings about C'rizz. I've always said that RTD was at his best in the New Series when he took what the audience was feeling and put it right up on screen. (There's no better example than "The Christmas Invasion".) That's what's happening here. The audience (if I may be so bold) never really warmed to C'rizz, and doesn't really mind that he's gone. Giving that emotion to the Doctor was a great choice.