Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 5/17/17 5:47 pm
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In Scott Handcock's The Other Side, the penultimate story of this release, Rose has invited Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley) onto the TARDIS to go home, something the Doctor isn't too happy about. But when a temporal tsunami strikes, and the TARDIS crew ends up separated through time. The Doctor and Rose must place their faith in a stranger, and Adam will have to be fantastic, if he hopes to see Rose and the Doctor again. I feel that this story was a bit of a lost opportunity. With Adam, a companion who essentially failed the test to become a companion, you could've had an interesting story examining the failure of Adam to act to save the Doctor and Rose. Instead, we have a rather cheery, contradictory story featuring Adam in his first trip in the TARDIS, where he ends up as a companion. Well acted, but disappointingly written in that respect, the story is nonetheless an interesting little horror story, written by one of Big Finish's masters of horror.
In the first returning role of the set, Bruno Langley once again plays Adam, the failed companion of the Ninth Doctor. It's hard to judge someone when it's been nearly 13 years since they first portrayed the role, but Langley sounds a bit more mature here, compared to his last appearance in The Long Game. The age takes away some of the insecurity that Langley had back in 2005, but his performance is nonetheless strong. He doesn't really get to straddle the line between good and bad as much, as that's not the purpose of the story really. Nicholas Briggs once again returns as narrator, bit character actor, and the Ninth Doctor. It's still not a good impression, but I noticed it less here. That may be because it's a smaller role in this story, and so Briggs doesn't get as much of a chance to talk throughout. But I also think that, for better or for worse, I'm used to it now.
Scott Handcock's script was a bit of a dull affair. It certainly had it's moments; leave it to Scott Handcock to come up with a creepy story and villain. But while the story itself was a solid story, it just didn't feel like it lived up to its potential, or even its description. The things that worked were Handcock's excellent script, barring the wasted potential of Adam. Handcock is excellent at crafting funny yet dark scripts, something he does here. The script is filled with little funny moments, like Rose's flustered actions when the Doctor asks her to call Adam, to the quieter moments, such as where the Doctor tells Rose he waited 28 years to see her. Both are equally strong parts of Handcock's script. Another strong part was the villain of the story, the Bygone Hoard. A villain that slowly comes forward through time, that can displace the current timeline is an ingenious creation, and one that Handcock breathes life into. I was disappointed at how little time we got with them, as most of the plot focused on Rose and Adam rescuing the Doctor. But what we got was a creepy villain I'd have loved to see in Big Finish's War Doctor series. The one downside of this script was really Handcock's characterization of Adam. In this story, he's really just like every other companion: a relatively ordinary person, who ends up being fantastic. But Adam isn't a normal companion like that; Adam is a companion who failed to show the Doctor something promising. It was a let down, especially given the description of the story, to see a standard companion introduction story (the second of this set, mind you). I wish Handcock had gone for something a little more ambitious, rather than just writing a very plain story for Adam.
The last thing I'd like to mention is Joe Meiner's work on the sound design, particularly in this episode. It's subtle and slight, but it's on greater display here in this story than the previous two, because there's an almost constant background noise. From the jazzy soundtrack of Rose's 1920s adventures, to the background noise of the cinema in 2012, it all adds up to become a really atmospheric song. More than anything, Meiners did a great job with this story, as the sound of it just feels unsettling at times. It enhances the creepy nature of the story a lot, and makes this a much more enjoyable story.
Overall, The Other Side was a perfectly fine story, but given the guest star of this story was Adam, it feels somewhat like a missed opportunity. Rather than Handcock exploring an interesting angle with Adam, he decided to instead make a rather ordinary companion introduction story. Which is fine, because it was an enjoyable introduction story. But it felt like a let down quite honestly, even given the good performances by the cast, and the great villain and plot that Handcock created.