Reviewed By: traves8853
Review Date: 2/14/16 6:13 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
'Angel of Scutari' is part of a loose trilogy that revolves around the theme of Hex's views on time travel, rather than any shared narrative. The first two stories in the trilogy were, the surreal 'The Magic Mousetrap' and the action-fest that was 'Enemy of the Daleks'. This story is written by Paul Sutton and directed by Ken Bentley, who treat us to a character driven tale full of stuffy officers in a gritty Crimean wartime setting.
An argument early on implies that The Doctor had deliberately sought out the time and location the travellers have arrived in. The reason being that the events of 'Enemy of the Daleks' left Hex feeling depressed because he couldn't help the injured. So, the Doctor takes him to the Crimean War and prevents him from using future medicine and technology? Not sure how tying his hands in that way would help, and surely the moral conflict should have been easily predicted by the supposed master manipulator that the seventh Doctor is supposed to be? Hex later admits that he wanted to be there to meet Florence Nightingale. The reason being that, when he was at school they had a lesson that focused on her and afterwards the careers officer came round and when asked what he wanted to do for a career, Hex, couldn't think of anything better to say than Nurse. And that's why she was such an important figure to him? Despite the theme of unrequited love and a fair bit of action, I didn't find the characterisation to be good enough to make the story as immersive as it should have been.
The story is told out of order, with the Doctor and Ace having a separate adventure which leaves you with a slightly discordant feel and lacks pace. Ken Bentley doesn't seem able to do much about and the music while creating a detailed backdrop for the story is also rather drab. McCoy gives a good performance but is deprived of a good script and story, but handles certain scenes superbly. McCoy growls rather than shouts and affects more menace from it when required. Aldred shouts rather than acts and Philip Oliver is possibly one of the best actors Big Finish have had work for them. It's just such a shame that Hex is written as an average and at times whiny character. There are lots of good performances but few really stand out. We even get Lev Tolstoy pop up, not sure why.
I think the mistake that Paul Sutton makes is setting up mystery before allowing us to get to know the characters. First we need to be told why we should care and without that the whole things falls flat early on and doesn't really recover. The whole I can't just stand here and not do my best plot is largely trite and the characters lack complexity. It could also do with the occasional dose of humour to liven it up.
Overall, I found the whole thing average and uninspiring at best. A character driven tales without vivid characters is always going to have problems and it is a shame as it is a waste of fine performances from McCoy, Oliver and many of the guest cast. The acting was by far the best thing about this.