Monday, 14 July 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - BREAKING BUBBLES AND OTHER STORIES (SPOILER-FREE)
We're only a few weeks away from the Twelfth Doctor, but first, let's see what number 6 is up to...
Given the whole Series 8 leak that's been going around, I will confess that even I have been tempted to take a peek at the presents under the tree before Christmas morning. I was desperate to get my mind off of Series 8, so when Breaking Bubbles arrived, I knew it would be strong enough to fight back the temptation. This unique format of four separate stories consisting of 30 minutes each did more than just strengthen my resolve. It proved to be a true gem and one of those titles I can listen to 10 times a day without fail.
Instead of 4 reviews, I will condense it into one. I'll start off by saying that this anthology features a story for everyone. If you fail to find even one you like, then there is something seriously wrong with you. The first tale Breaking Bubbles starts off the series by posing the question: 'How much is one person's freedom worth?' It is a fascinating moral and philosophical tale that has a very Prison Break feel to it with the Doctor and Peri abroad a prison-ship caught between deciding whether to help a war criminal escape or prevent them so that they can stand trial. Naturally when you hear 'war' criminal, you automatically think 'don't help them', but in this sense, like A Town Called Mercy, things aren't as black and white, cut and dry as one might expect.
When I read the title for the second tale Of Chaos Time The, I immediately couldn't wait to listen to it as it already sounded very wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. It may be abundant during the Steven Moffat Era, but I love me a good time travel story and Of Chaos Time The doesn't disappoint. More of a Doctor-centric story, it feels a lot like The Jigsaw War, but with a few twists here and there. The plot isn't as complicated as some of Steven Moffat's work, but it makes for a great listen and isn't terribly difficult to follow. This is the polar opposite of Random Ghosts from last month and I'm pleased that this story leans more towards The Jigsaw War than Random Ghosts.
From Doctor-centric to Doctor-lite one might say. An Eye for Murder falls into another genre of storytelling that I love - Whodunnit! We follow the exploits of Peri Brown and her faithful companion the Doctor as they try to uncover the identity of the villain responsible for writing/sending numerous poison pen letters to a renowned German scientist at an all girls college in 1939. A really great story for Peri that at the same time creates plot barricades that prevents the Doctor from doing his usual Doctor thing. This results in him being there mainly to provide the comic relief while Peri investigates and really helps showcase her talents as someone who has been traveling with the Doctor for years.
I will confess that when I first read the synopsis for the last story The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night-Time, I was a little underwhelmed by it. It felt not only unusual, but also as if it didn't belong in a Doctor Who anthology and might even take lots of effort to sit through. I was wrong as this story proved to be not only the funniest of the lot, but also the most entertaining by combining some of the weirdest and wackiest ideas and just fusing them with classic Doctor Who-ness. In some aspects, both a Doctor and a Companion-lite story, we follow Michael, a boy who suffers from Asperger Syndrome which - for those of you who don't know - is a form of autistic disorder categorized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication. Michael's father has gone missing. At the same time, Michael notices a brand new garden gnome in his father's 130-piece collection which is odd as Michael is very OCD about counting and he doesn't remember his father owning 130 gnomes. He is determined to solve the greatest mystery of all time: The Case of the Extra Gnome!
All four stories present a consistent, almost rising quality with each story building on the previous which eventually culminates in the last story which not only highlights such disorders as Asperger Syndrome (which I will confess I did not know much about until I listened to the story), but also presents us with a unique piece of storytelling that is not solely focused on the Doctor or his companion, but someone who observes all these strange happenings as a third party such as the man with the yellow trousers who never seems to change them or the girl Peri who has a boy's name. It's all in the name of fun and never is Michael's disorder made to sound mocked or insulted.
In my mind, this anthology manages to tick all the boxes. It is incredibly varied in it's stories and the stories themselves are quite imaginative. Normally I'd reserve a portion of this review for the things I felt didn't work in the story. There is no such portion this time as I don't really have a complaint. Creative storytelling, wonderful cast and characters all round. None of them seemed annoying or irritating. Nice sound and music featured and despite my reservations, I quite liked Michael as he solved the greatest mystery in the universe.
Rating Breaking Bubbles: 7.5/10
Rating Of Chaos Time The: 8.5/10
Rating An Eye for Murder: 8/10
Rating The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night-Time: 9.5/10