Thursday, 24 April 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - MOONFLESH (SPOILER-FREE)
Aliens go on safari. An absolute dream...
Generally, but not exclusively, I find the Fifth Doctor stories to be a little 'too' basic and plain. I much prefer the Seventh Doctor complex timey-wimey adventures or hearing Colin Baker as my favorite Doctor. indeed the Sixth Doctor stories this year have been very very strong indeed so I had little hope that the Fifth Doctor could beat the bar set by Scavenger. And then i heard Moonflesh and went: "Love it!"
Now instead of opening up with a deep drama to curb-stomp the memory of Scavenger out of the minds of fans, Moonflesh is more like Unicorn and the Wasp in terms of it being lighter and softer as opposed to the darker and edgier style of the last release. The danger isn't that pressing. It's like Black Orchid. It's more about enjoyability than 'save the world', although that aspect is also present.
The Doctor and Nyssa arrive in Suffolk in the year 1911. It feels like an African safari with all the elephants, gorillas and rhinoceroses roaming free, not to mention the lioness that corners our heroes the moment they step out of the TARDIS. This is the kind of story I would've liked to have seen made into a television episode back in the day. Although I realize that given the various 'wild' animals endangering everyone, the BBC would never have authorized Moonflesh. Thankfully the sound engineer did a terrific job of bringing African safari to Suffolk England. It feels like a proper wilderness romp. As mentioned, this story isn't as 'life-threatening' as Scavenger, which is a good thing in my opinion. It's a brilliant start to the Fifth Doctor season that includes Tombship and Masquerade next month and the month after.
Now onto the characters that make up this safari tale. Asking me to pick a favorite aside from the Doctor and Nyssa would be tortuous. Tim Bentinck is absolutely spectacular as Nathaniel Whitlock. I do enjoy hearing that old early 20th century wild-life hunter personalities. Always a treat. John Banks as Silver Crow, the spiritual clansman was surprisingly enjoyable. I say surprisingly not because of John Banks, but because these spiritualistic characters are very hard to portray as believable in general fiction. It's almost become a cliche that thankfully isn't repeated in this story. In fact, I wouldn't mind if Silver Crow also got upgraded to temporary companion status in the future. Big Finish sure are creating some fascinating characters this year.
I won't talk about the villain for this story as spoilers are hard to miss. I will say that it's an old gimmick given a new spin that takes away the cliche. Very intimidating once you realize just what sort of dangers and chaos can be conjured up if used right. Also nice about this story is the amount of misdirection it presents to it's listeners. I always enjoy being thrown off-guard by a realistic plot twist and Moonflesh managed just that.
Rating this story: 9/10. Nothing particularly wrong with a good ol' fashioned safari romp. Six and Seven can stop the universe from imploding. Five is on an adventurous holiday! Deal with it!