Good tidings I bid ye, and welcome back to Big Finishing Move. It is here where we take a look at the offerings the audio drama masters over at Big Finish and let you know if they are worth your hard earned cashed or if that money is better spent picking up that Bacon Wave you spotted at the store yesterday. Today we are once again along for the ride as the Fourth Doctor faces the greatest threat known to humanity, crappy suburban house parties!
TARDIS Team: The Fourth Doctor and Leela
Belinda and Ralph are throwing a housewarming party when who should appear to crash the party but the good Doctor and Leela. Seems the TARDIS has slipped to the other side of some temporal instability and are now stranded so they hit up the nearest house to see if the Doctor can’t attain some electronic odds and ends to cobble something together to fix the situation/track their ride down. What follows is a classic comedy of errors with a Doctor Who twist. Will the Doctor be able to save the day, the world, and himself from this dreadful party?
One of my favorite things in fiction is the pairing of the fantastic with the mundane. It is a great devise to tell all kinds of stories, especially those of a more humorous bent like this tale. The Doctor and Leela of all people stuck at a bad housewarming party is an inherently funny premise. Bad and/or awkward social gatherings and the intense desire to escape them are something we all can relate to and it gives us a real world every day connection to this story that you don’t normally find in Who.
As I was giving this a second listen it struck me just how sour this story is when it comes to the subject of marriage. The couplings found in this story are horribly miserable and unhealthy, which of course is all part of the joke. I won’t give away the final payoff but I will say the following; this is not a story where anyone grows as a person and decides to treat their partner better, or learns absolutely anything for that matter.
On the performance side of things, special note should be given to Katy Wix as Belinda. Katy has such a fine line to walk with the character, she has to be as horrible as possible without crossing that point where the audience no longer cares about her all the while completely filling out the stereotype and yet being more than that of the nagging wife. It is a credit to the writing and Wix’s performance that Belinda is shown to have enough layers and character depth that we never write her off.
As to our two leads, Baker and Jameson once again prove their ability to switch from comedy to drama on a dime. It just goes to show the raw level of talent they each have that is only heightened when you put them together.
It has been said a million times before because it just so happens to be true, the secret to comedy is timing. A pause or break for a laugh that doesn’t come or a clever line that isn’t given sufficient time to sink in can take the best writing in the world and make it seem mediocre or at worst, utter garbage. Suburban Hell for what it is, is fairly funny, but I can’t shake the feeling that with some trimming to tighten things up it could have been ten times as funny. This sadly wasn’t an option as the story was already running on the short side leaving us with a comedy that never quite hits the mark it is shooting for as it is a slave to hitting a run time. If you’re looking for a bit of fun with a story that isn’t even pretending to take itself seriously then you will find this to be a pleasant treat.
Purchase Doctor Who: Suburban Hell Here:
Looking for even more audio goodies to listen to? Look no further, we here at One of Us have our own audio drama series Infinite Variations, as well this being the home of the spin-off from The Intergalactic Nemesis, a lttle something going by the name of Salt. Now, all this is stuff happens to be 100% FREE here, so clean the peas and carrots out of your ears (as my Mother used to say) and give them a listen!
Over the next few months on top of reviewing the most recent Fourth Doctor stories we will be looking at the Drashani trilogy. So for next time, we’re once again rolling with the Fifth Doctor for:
See you there!
Check out my previous reviews:
Phantasmagoria, The Fearmonger, The Light At The End, The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Storm Warning, Blood of the Daleks, The Chimes of Midnight, Seasons of Fear, The King of Sontar, White Ghosts, Dark Eyes II, The Crooked Man, Project: Twilight, The Evil One, The Harvest, The Last Of The Colophon, The Council Of Nicaea, Destroy The Infinite, Afterlife, The Abandoned, Zygon Hunt, Revenge Of The Swarm, Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Box Set, Dark Eyes 3, Mask of Tragedy, The Fourth Doctor By Gareth Roberts, The Exxilions, The Darkness of Glass, Dark Eyes IV, Requiem for the Rocket Men, Signs And Wonders, Death Match