Edinburgh, 1827. The infamous body snatchers Burke and
Hare are at large, and the local prostitutes dull their fears
with cheap whisky. When the Doctor and Evelyn stumble upon
one of the most lurid yet illuminating chapters in British
history, the Time Lord's interest in the work of a dedicated
scientist quickly turns sour...
a real sense of the Doctor (Colin Baker) and Evelyn (Maggie
Stables) starting over in their relationship at the beginning
of this adventure, following their "trial separation" during
Arrangements for War. Light-hearted banter about the
TARDIS being "the woman" in the Doctor's life only
reinforces the comparison of the two Doctors' relationship
to that of a romantically entwined couple.
But Evelyn soon has cause to question her travelling companion
once again, when they land in 19th-century Edinburgh and the
Time Lord shows a grisly fascination for the exploits of William
Burke (Kevin O'Leary) and Billy Hare (Tom Farrelly). Thank
goodness the director/producer Gary Russell persuaded the
writer, newcomer Robert Ross, to move away from his original
idea, which concerned the legend of Jack the Ripper, because
that subject has already been dealt with in the Virgin New
Adventure, The Pit and BBC Books' Matrix. As it
happens, the chosen setting fits the pragmatic Sixth Doctor
like a glove, as he celebrates the scientific advances that
were made possible by the body snatchers' work.
the other historical figures that the time-travellers encounter
is one "Daft" Jamie (not to be confused with the Second Doctor's
long-serving companion, Jamie McCrimmon). David Tennant, who
plays the recurring role of Agent Galanar in the Dalek
Empire series, is virtually unrecognisable as the local
undoubted star of the show, however, is Leslie Phillips as
Dr Robert Knox. Perhaps this story should have been called
Doctor in Trouble! Though the script has its fair share
of darkly comical moments (which is hardly surprising, since
the writer is a leading expert on British comedy), Phillips
mostly plays it straight - and very nasty indeed.
The adventure's historical background is fascinating enough
in its own right, so if anything I was ever so slightly disappointed
when the tale twisted into more of a time-warp story, akin
to Carnival of Monsters with a bit of The War Games
balance, though, I have little hesitation in prescribing Medicinal
Purposes. Take one episode each evening before you go
to bed until the course is finished. If symptoms persist,
listen to it again.
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