Reviewed By: traves8853
Review Date: 10/17/15 3:47 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
One of the big unanswered questions in Doctor Who is "What happened to Susan Foreman?" Obviously, there has been lots of fan speculation as to whether Susan was a Timelord, or even the Doctor’s granddaughter. Marc Platt wrote both 'Auld Mortality' and 'Storm of Angels' from the 'Unbound' range. Which feature Susan and the Doctor from an alternative timeline, making him the obvious candidate for scripting Susan’s return to a more conventional time line. Big Finish’s attempt to take on these questions is a brave effort and Marc Platt was given the brief of bringing back Susan twenty years after the Doctor left her, and with a son, the Doctor’s great grandson. 'An Earthly Child' was directed by Nick Briggs.
The Earth has been left scarred, and still in turmoil twenty years after the events in 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth'. There are food shortages, survivors who manned the moon base still have their communications to earth cut off and xenophobic groups such as Earth United have sprung up. David Campbell has been dead some time leaving Susan Campbell with a human son. Susan, who is now on the Earth Council, has been attempting to contact aliens to gain assistance rebuilding the Earth. Her son, Alex, has a rebellious streak and, unaware of his lineage, been drawn to the Earth United group. With such a high profile mother Earth United are only too willing to take his membership. Susan has managed to contact a race called the 'Guldreasi', but can they be trusted?
One of the interesting facets of the casting is the decision to cast Jake McGann as seventeen year old Alex. Jake's performance is often flat and laid back, but the scene where he first enters the Tardis leaves a lot to be desired in terms of character reaction. He is part of an alien hate group and just discovered that he is one of them! His reaction should be shock and anger, not boredom. A part from the revelatory scene I don't necessarily think that his performance is a bad one. Perhaps the apple has fallen far from the tree in terms of inherited traits, or considering the cold, pompous Timelords the series has presented us with over the years. The Doctor skulks around furtively at first, observing, showing trepidation about the reception he might receive. He abandoned Susan and left her on a troubled planet, alien to here. Carol Anne Ford's performance is perfectly pitched. Susan remembers the vents of the Five Doctors, and does have two hearts - whereas, Alex has only the one.
The music has a light touch and provides a subtle atmosphere with an other wordly feel to it. This is an emotive tale about prejudice as well as reuniting families and nostalgia for the listener. This well paced and character driven, the ending was left quite open answering one question with another. I didn't feel at all cheated, and in fact wanted more, which is always a good sign. One of criticisms this comes in for is that there isn't enough character development because of the one hour length. That's like criticising a one legged man for not being able to run faster. Of course they might not be able to expand on things as much as they would like to in an hour, but I didn’t feel it was a problem at all. I thought this was well paced with great characters, Alex and Susan, who eventually return in the Eight Doctor Adventures. I thought this was a great story with good dialogue, imagery and characters. Utterly memorable.