Reviewed By: Eiphel
Review Date: 12/20/10 9:02 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Wow, what a cracker of a story this one was. Full of witty humour and clever plotting.
The setup is one of those simple, inspired notions - Trying to avert a temporal explosion, the Doctor is thrown in the very prison at ground zero. Turns out that 'Doctor John Smith' is the most notorious criminal on the planet of Folly! The Fifth Doctor adapts to life behind bars, and Nyssa to life on the outside, and whilst the Doctor's thread has obvious potential, Nyssa's is equally entertaining as her own good nature works against her attempts to get inside.
There's a cast of vibrant characters, from the Doctor's cell mates to the prison staff. Whilst you can only sketch in broad strokes with 30 minutes on the clock, each character suggested depth, rather than exhibiting shallowness. The banter between the characters is great fun to behold - The Doctor becoming a Shawshank Redemption-like prison icon is great fun, with a rather sweet moment when his cell mate tells him the prisoners kept up the cricket matches whilst he was in solitary.
And of COURSE he was in solitary. Because William Gallagher knows the tropes of prison drama, and plays to them. He takes each one playfully - The Fifth Doctor, least threatening of all, is thrown in solitary and respected for his notorious record. There's a sympathetic prison warder and a ruthless screw running the joint. There's even a parody of the opening to Porridge!
With such fun afoot, even a basic bare bones plot would be entertaining, but Gallagher has crafted something much more elegant. The villain is interesting, the conflicts and obstacles challenging, and overcome intelligently, and the finale draws on ideas from earlier in the story. It's a mark of the well-composed, well-paced plot that there's a real sense of time passing in the story, for all that it lasts half an hour.
And on top of all that, there's some wonderful tinkly piano music. What more could you ask? 8/10