In the 32nd century, the Doctor, travelling alone, finds himself
on a planet piled high with discarded computer technology.
Picking over these remains are an army of Scandroids, directed
by a team of researchers from the mysterious Lonway Clinic,
and an unsavoury collection of illegal data pirates. This
is a world of organic-digital transfer and "personality surgery",
which the Doctor finds disturbing enough, but then something
far more deadly starts to emerge...
Briggs, the new Co-Executive Producer of Big Finish's Doctor
Who range, continues to develop the format's potential.
The recent Circular
Time comprised four, linked, single-episode
adventures, and now I.D. is the first of several three-part
stories. For decades, the only three-part Who serial
of Giants, and even this oddity was really
a hacked-down four-parter. Three-part tales came into their
own during the Sylvester McCoy era, in response to the relatively
short duration (14 x 25-minute episodes) of each season at
that time. Though not always successful, the format does help
to avoid the doldrums that many four-parters run into during
Accordingly, I.D., written by Eddie Robson, is a lively
and focused narrative - though it is unfortunate that it involves
sinister robots (the Scandroids), since we had some of those
only a couple of months ago in Nocturne,
and it looks as though we'll be getting more of the same next
month in Exotron (another three-parter).
The moral of the story concerns identity theft, as you might
have gathered from the title and synopsis. Just as present-day
criminals obtain personal data from discarded paper and electronic
records, so the researchers from the Lonway Clinic pick over
hi-tech wreckage for the materials they need to develop the
creepy science of personality tailoring to order. Though they
supposedly work under strict guidelines, the boffins seem
only slightly more lawful than the data pirates who operate
in the same area. I don't think I'm giving too much away if
I reveal that, by the end of story, the identity theft becomes
somewhat more literal...
enough, Sara Griffiths, who played Ray in Delta
and the Bannermen, the first of the McCoy-era
three-parters, stars here as one of the scientists, though
the cynical Claudia Bridge could scarcely be more different
from Ray. Even more surprising is the casting of TV presenter,
author and former politician Gyles Brandreth as the ruthless
Dr Marriott - and very effective he is too. Also cast against
type is Helen Atkinson Wood, best known for her comedy roles
the Third and KYTV, as auditor Ms Tevez.
In truth, Big Finish has been producing stories of this duration
for years, as its single-disc releases are usually of just
the right length to make three 25-minute instalments. However,
the experiment is an interesting one, especially since it
gives rise to the inclusion of a single-part companion piece...
Earth, 1974. An innocent phone call. OK, it was a wrong number,
but there can't be any harm in that - can there? Lauren learns
that when the Doctor is involved, anything is possible...
Calls, also penned by Robson, may be only one episode
long, but it is all the more interesting for it. It is conveyed
almost entirely in the form of a series of telephone conversations,
a narrative contrivance that might have become tedious over
three or four instalments, but works perfectly here. The device
also makes this a story that could only really have been told
(or at least told most effectively) in the audio medium.
The whole affair is carried by the two principal actors, Colin
Baker and Kate Brown (as Lauren), who rise to the occasion
superbly. Lauren's character is compelling and sensitive without
ever seeming whiny or annoying.
I'm putting in an urgent call for more episodes of this calibre.
double disc's extra features comprise interviews with Gyles
Brandreth, Helen Atkinson Wood and Sara Griffiths. The eccentric
Brandreth provides the most amusement, telling an elaborate
but supposedly true story of muddled Doctors that puts even
Tom Baker's tale of being mistaken for Jon Pertwee in the
in all, a great CD.
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