Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 7/12/17 6:02 pm
2 out of 3 found this review helpful.
In The High Price of Parking, the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) arrive on the planet Parking, a planetary parking garage, with the intent of visiting the tourist planet Dashrah, a beautiful world with a rich history. But very quickly, the Doctor, Ace and Mel find themselves caught up in a civil war of sorts, between a group of revolutionaries called the Free Parkers and the police force of the planet the Wardens. But something strange is happening on Parking; the information doesn't add up. With the TARDIS stolen, the TARDIS crew must work to uncover the mysteries of Parking, even at the risk of their own lives. The High Price of Parking is a John Dorney story through and through. Filled with moments of deadpan humor and a weird yet interesting story, some fascinating characters, and some strong writing, The High Price of Parking is a strong Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Mel story for Big Finish. It mostly works from start to finish, though the ending feels a bit of a let down. But overall, it's a solid story, and one of the better stories to come out of the Monthly Range this year.
Sylvester McCoy once again reprises his role as the seventh incarnation of the renegade Time Lord, known as the Doctor. McCoy, with his slight Scottish lilt, does some strong work here as the Doctor. While I've generally disliked the direction that Big Finish has gone with the Seventh Doctor as of late, it's undeniable that McCoy does strong work as the Seventh Doctor. He's charming, brooding, quick thinking, and above all wise beyond belief. He incorporates elements of his Hex-era Seventh Doctor into his performance here, which I appreciate, coming off of last month's excellent Shadow Planet/World Apart, though most of his performance is lighter and more comedic than the "dark Seventh Doctor" of Virgin and early Big Finish. Joining McCoy are his two television companions, Bonnie Langford and Sophie Aldred as Mel and Ace. Both do some strong work here, particularly as Langford tries to stop the explosions caused by Seraphim and when Ace is able to put a stop to the standoff between the Wardens and the Free Parkers towards the end of the story. Langford is certainly more enjoyable here than she was on the TV series; she plays Mel a little more hardened, and that makes the world of difference from her "scream queen" character in the 80's. Aldred plays Ace the same way she's been playing her since she began with Big Finish, though she has a different chemistry with Mel, a sort of protective older sister routine here.
The addition of John Dorney to the group of writers of Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Mel stories was an extremely smart choice by the powers that be. Last year's trilogy of stories was, quite honestly, mediocre at best. The interactions between the characters felt wooden, and the stories themselves couldn't decide if they were doing dark Seven or funny Seven. But leave it to Dorney to put this TARDIS crew in order, crafting a perfectly funny, yet dark story to balance both aspects of the Seventh Doctor, while incorporating Mel and Ace in a tight story. The greatest part of this story was Dorney's blending of the darker aspects of the Seventh Doctor (e.g. the aspects we see with Ace) and the lighter aspects of his character (e.g. the ones we see with Mel). The previous three stories have struggled to balance these, often going too far in one direction or the other, but Dorney is able to find the perfect balance and create a strong Seventh Doctor story. This Seventh Doctor is making an effort to be a little lighter, but he still has his brooding, scheming aspects that make his character shine.
Likewise, Dorney is able to make an interesting story out of this. I particularly loved just how weird it was overall; a whole story about a parking garage and civil war of sorts taking place on this parking garage planet. It's so weird and so out there, but that's Dorney's strength. I loved the twists and turns, especially the reveal that neither the Free Parkers nor the Wardens were behind the bombings of the planet, leading to an interesting reveal, and an effectively hidden twist. Dorney also excelled at writing the dialogue of this story, in his typical deadpan way. I particularly liked the humor of the Free Parkers and their beliefs, and the way Ace acted incredulously towards them for these beliefs. The one downside to this story was the ending, which felt rather too contrived, especially when the rest of the story was so much fun and fresh, and exciting. To just have a quick confrontation between the Doctor and the master mind behind the destruction of Parking, and then to have it resolved even faster, felt just a bit too lazy for my liking.
Overall though, The High Price of Parking is, dare I say it, the first good Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Mel story. The story excels because Dorney is able to find the proper balance between the two facets of the Seventh Doctor, and the story is elevated for it. McCoy, Aldred, and Langford all do strong work as their respective characters, joined by an enjoyable guest cast. Dorney's story and dialogue was strong, even if the ending he chose for the story felt too rushed and lacking in originality for such a strong, original story. It was a strong story from start to nearly finish, and one of the better stories to come out of the Monthly Range this year so far.