THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMAS
"TIME WORKS" AND
THE CUBE &
BIG FINISH CD#83
RELEASED IN JUNE
YOU ARE ABOUT
TO ENTER THE CUBE
ALL FORMS OF TELEPATHY ARE PROHIBITED
DO NOT ATTEMPT TELEPORTATION UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
PSYCHIC POWERS WILL BE FORCIBLY REMOVED
(MENTAL SURGERY IS COMPULSORY)
YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS
YOU HAVE NO POWERS
YOU HAVE NO DEFENCE
YOU ARE NOW INSIDE
Trevor Baxendale didn’t endear himself to many with his dreary New Adventures audio, The Dark Flame, but he’s certainly done wonders with Paul McGann’s eighth Doctor and company in this story. Like his last Big Finish script, Baxendale’s story is far being fresh or innovative, yet Something Inside succeeds where The Dark Flame failed – it entertained me, and thoroughly so.
For starters, Baxendale’s plot is relentlessly gripping. The Cube is a prison for telepaths; and not just any telepaths. The inmates of the Cube are soldiers who have been genetically engineered to be telepathic – soldiers who are so powerful that they can kill with a single thought. Of course, after their war, when their dirty work was done, these soldiers who so bravely did their duty were left to rot in the prison, deemed a threat to society. It’s a familiar theme in science-fiction – I remember a very similar episode of The X-Files – nonetheless Baxendale’s story holds the listener’s attention because the characters have you from the word go – each and every one of them. John Killoran is particularly memorable as the super psike killer, Gordon Latch. He reminded me a little bit of Maurice Colbourne’s Lytton in the television series, playing the ‘old heel turned face’ role superbly.
In his author’s notes, Baxendale talks about how this script had a long gestation period, and how when he was writing it he never knew what was going to happen next. This uncertainly shows through in the final production, but not in a negative way. The structure of the story is haphazard, with lots of flashbacks and similar devices employed in the first two episodes. However, from the third part onwards, when all the regulars are reunited, Something Inside really takes off, and listening to it, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
To readers of the eighth Doctor’s now-discontinued adventures in print, the notion of the amnesiac Doctor is old hat. Even to Big Finish listeners, the old ‘amnesia’ card has been played recently in Terror Firma with the ‘forgotten companions’ angle. However, Baxendale just about gets away with putting the eighth Doctor’s brain through the meat grinder once again because here it allows him to show listeners a different side to the Doctor; in fact, it allows us to look at him from a completely new standpoint. In Something Inside, the Doctor is stripped of all his memories by the brain worm, and thus has no idea as to who he is.
“Come on then, if you think you’re hard enough.”
In his amnesiac state, the Doctor displays all his usual ‘Doctorish’ traits – even though he doesn’t recognise C’rizz, he tries to stop him being tortured; and despite not knowing any
of the psike inmates of the Cube, he sympathises with their cause and wants to help them. Yet he’s much tougher and far less forgiving then his usual self. If anything, he’s more like the Doctor that we see in the new television series – brutal to his enemies. His subconscious thought that he wanted Mr Twyst (who was holding a gun to Charley’s head at the time) to
die allowed the brain worm to escape and kill him; a fact the Doctor doesn’t seem all that sorry about – “It wasn’t me, it was the brain worm.” Moreover, he actively threatens Rawden with the same treatment.
It isn’t all doom and gloom for the Doctor though. Though Baxendale puts him through hell,
he doesn’t neglect the lighter side of his persona. Picking up on the (misguided) fondness that McGann’s Doctor seems to have for Liverpool FC, here Baxendale has the Doctor use the story of how Steven Gerrard inspired his team to come back from 3-0 down against AC Milan to win the 2005 Champions’ League to inspire Charley and C’rizz!
Once again though, it is Conrad
Westmaas who steals the show.
The story arc about C’rizz’s dark
past seems to have been going
on for so long now that I’m just
aching for some sort of payoff,
but it looks like Big Finish are
going to keep slowly cranking up
the tension until it reaches fever
pitch. C’rizz’s story has all the marking of a textbook tragedy – the Eutermesan who wants
to be a good person, but has a tragic flaw that is just waiting to break him. Influenced by the behaviour of all those around him, C’rizz is chameleonic not only in appearance but in mind. In his old life he was a killer, “releasing” hundreds, perhaps even thousands, from their lives, and now he is haunted by all their personalities living inside his head. Over the course of his adventures with the Doctor and Charley, he has taken on their characteristics and become the person that he wants to be, yet in stories like Other Lives, when he is treated so brutally by others, you can see that he’s just on the edge of snapping and becoming that murderer again. Circumstances keep conspiring to push C’rizz over the edge, and in this story, after being taunted by Tessa and relentlessly and gruesomely tortured by Rawden and Mr Twyst, C’rizz very nearly breaks.
“Not my best day, Charley.”
The story’s climax is probably the strongest part of it. It feels rushed and real, as opposed to crafted and forced. The dénouement happens fast and is over quick, and leaves the listener with the same nasty sort of aftertaste that one gets from watching serials like Warriors of the Deep, Resurrection of the Daleks, and particularly Attack of the Cybermen.
The only real gripe that I have with Something Inside is Joseph Fox’s inapt score. It is not offensive by any means – much of it is actually very impressive – yet it doesn’t fit the play at all. Indeed, at times it is far too upbeat and really kills the mood of a scene. All told though, this doesn’t detract too much from what is a gripping and really quite traumatic thriller; just the type of story that I’d love to hear more of in the future.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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