Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 8/20/17 5:22 pm
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I love stories that play around with form, and this is a wonderful example. It's a deceptively simple concept, and it's the superlative execution that really makes it work. It would be so easy to get this badly wrong, but "Live 34" maintains a very convincing illusion that we're listening to a live audio news broadcast. The guest cast has to get a lot of credit for the success of this story. The story only works if Drew Shahan, Charlotte Singh, and Ryan Wareing are credible as news personalities.
Incorporating different styles of news program is also very important to keep the story from getting bogged down or becoming overly repetitive. Part One gives us a live headline news program, Part Two takes the form of a pre-recorded news feature, and Part Three is a live "ride-along" style of program. This keeps the story fresh and engaging and prevents it from getting tedious.
It's also interesting how the script uses the regular cast, featuring just one familiar character in each of the first three episodes. The different perspectives we get from these three episodes combine to give the listener a very clear pitcure of the overall situation on Colony 34.
As others have noted, things start to get a bit stretched in the final episode. The inherent tension in the format comes from the fact that "Doctor Who" stories don't happen in real life, so the fourth episode (which reveals the full dimensions of the story and resolves it, live on-air) inevitably loses some of the realism and the plausibility of the first three parts. But that's a small problem, and it does little to undermine the effectiveness of the story as a whole. All in all, a wonderful story.
And I'm happy to say that my complaints about how politics and terrorism were used in "UNIT: The Longest Night" and "Gallifrey: Imperiatrix" do not apply to this story at all. This story gets it right.