Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 7/13/17 8:01 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
In Flashpoint, Big Finish's latest Short Trips release, the Doctor and Lucie (Sheridan Smith) arrive on a famous storm world Cerberin, to see the sights. However, Lucie and the Doctor are separated following an attack by gangster assassins, and Lucie finds herself stranded on the surface with a young child named Elrich, the target of these assassins. Will Lucie be able to weather the storm, and make sure that Elrich survives unscathed? Flashpoint was a rather average release. Big Finish smartly chose to make this story a Companion Chronicles-lite story, which covered for the weak narration that Sheridan Smith did in her previous Short Trips release, The Curse of the Fugue, as she delivers a good performance here. However, Andrew Smith's script was a rather simple affair, and as such it came out a little boring. Overall, the release was fine, but nothing terribly special.
Sheridan Smith returns as Lucie Miller here, playing Lucie in a full-cast capacity for the first time since To the Death. Smith's previous Short Trips release was marred by some poor narration on Smith's part, so the powers that be (likely producer Ian Atkins and director Lisa Bowerman) wisely chose to have Smith simply play Lucie, and narrate lightly. This greatly improves her performance, as we get to see the spark of Lucie that we all know and love. Smith seems fairly comfortable sliding back into the role; there are a few moments where it seems like she struggles to get back into character as Lucie, which stick out like a sore thumb. But overall, she delivers a good performance, and I'm happy to take any small bit of Smith we can get, due to her busy schedule.
Andrew Smith (attack of the Smith's!) wrote a pretty average script for this story. He takes a pretty standard story of gangsters trying to kill some kid, with the companion protecting them... and then wrote that story, with no frills. It ends up being perfectly fine, but in return, it's also nothing special. I did appreciate some aspects of Smith's script, such as his writing of Lucie's thoughts and feelings. It did make the story feel a little more personal, and that's to be appreciated. However, the story really just doesn't do anything exciting or novel here. We have the gangsters after some kid for mysterious reasons, the ex-gangster who's tried to fix his ways, who finds the kid and his protector, where they find out he's a former gangster and run from him. We have the final confrontation with the gangsters after they find the kid, we have the death of the ex-gangster, and we have the protectorate defeating the gangsters when they're distracted. It's like Smith went out and watched a bunch of movies/TV shows that do this kind of thing, and made a checklist, which he ticked for this story. It was an interesting story, but the lack of anything novel here really detracts from the story in my opinion.
A final thing to note is less part of the review, and more a personal musing on my part. I've noticed that lately, Big Finish has taken to making the Short Trips range more like a Companion Chronicles-lite range. Some stories, such as this one, are no longer simply dramatized readings of 30 minute Doctor Who stories, but they're either full-cast, but only featuring one or two people plays (A Full Life, How to Win Planets and Influence People, The Jago & Litefoot Revival). This trend is a good trend, in my opinion, as I feel that the full-cast with one person format really helps to elevate the stories, in general. However, at what point do these releases stop being Short Trips and become something else. The Short Trips range originally started as dramatized readings of short Doctor Who stories; it's changed, and I'm pleased that it changed, because it shows that Big Finish is willing to adapt to make a great story. Just some random musings and food for thought.
Overall, Flashpoint is a fairly average release. The holes in Sheridan Smith's narration are somewhat covered by the fact that Smith is actually playing Lucie here, just in a Companion Chronicles-lite capacity, but even then, her performance, while good, has a few holes in it, as she struggles to get back into character. Andrew Smith's story was a pretty average affair as well, as he delivered a story about a group of assassins after a young kid, a story that's been done hundreds of times over, and did nothing but write that kind of story. No frills, no thrills, and nothing novel or exciting about the story itself. The return of Lucie Miller to Big Finish falls a little flat, with a perfectly enjoyable, but decidedly average story.