Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Unsought Return

For decades, no-one had been asking: "When will Adric return to Doctor Who?" Everyone's least favourite companion seemed to have a pretty definite departure in 1982's Earthshock but, of course, on Doctor Who nothing is final unless we want it to be. And even though we wanted it to be, Adric returned in the 2008 Fifth Doctor audio play The Boy That Time Forgot, not played by the original actor, Matthew Waterhouse. Otherwise it's a pretty entertaining audio play about prehistoric, intelligent giant scorpions.

The story continues from the events of another audio play, The Haunting of Thomas Brewster, which left the Doctor (Peter Davison) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) stranded in Victorian London. After holding some kind of psychic seance in an effort to locate the TARDIS, the Doctor, Nyssa, and two native Victorians, are transported to an alternate version of prehistoric Earth where the dinosaurs were wiped out by a civilisation of sentient scorpions.

It's rare for Doctor Who to feature characters who are so different from human beings--and some would argue the audio format suits the intelligent arachnids better than the moth people in the television serial The Web Planet. To human characters at first, their language is unintelligible chittering which we hear translated and performed by actors in scenes from the scorpions' point of view, while the humans' voices are muffled. It was nice the audio play decided to work with the fact that the TARDIS translation circuits weren't present rather than just ignoring it (the usual choice).

Time hasn't improved Adric, who's here played by Andrew Sachs as a bitter old man who's obsessed with Nyssa. It is kind of nice that now the Doctor and Nyssa are in agreement with the audience in disliking Adric though unfortunately this doesn't last. I found myself wishing writer Paul Magrs had left well enough alone--Earthshock may have been a better ending than Adric deserved, but all but the most wicked of us deserved Adric ending.

Otherwise, the story's pretty good. I liked the idea of this precarious civilisation of scorpions held together by psychic calculations and the conversations between them that dropped hints about their former savage nature were good. The two Victorians accompanying the Doctor and Nyssa were also entertaining to listen to, one of them played by Harriet Walker who I see now is set to play the king in an all female production of Shakespeare's Henry IV. She also apparently played someone named "Dr. Kalonia" in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I saw that movie three times and I can't place that name. I'm sure she'll get an action figure, though.

Twitter Sonnet #908

In stacks the pancakes scold the bank for notes.
His hat became a pant in union slacks.
Invent the stove and soon your country votes.
The time returned its disk in daily sacks.
Mistakes solidified in cakes like wood.
To eat an oak is folly for the tongue.
The nun Chuck's nunchaku is understood.
No habit wimple sings what's never sung.
The hinge will not believe the brows of string.
A stinging haunch of cheek concealed the tree.
At ev'ry step a stork stacked up to cling.
The sky escaped to scorch the candle bee.
The extra knees were made to wreck the bow.
No suppliant pose can sustain us now.

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