Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doctor Who fan series--review

We are big fans of the BBC's Doctor Who. Even Sarah loves it, so much so that when given the opportunity to choose Natalie's middle name, she picked Rose--after one of the Doctor's companions. When we visit my parents, Sarah has been known to get the other children pretending that they are looking for the TARDIS. They have no idea what she's talking about, but they go along with it and have a good time anyway.

Some fans (mostly in the UK, I believe, although some are in the US and at least one is in Australia) have banded together to create their own Doctor Who stories. These will be audio productions only, but they have written the scripts and done all the directing and recording themselves--a true labor of love. They will be posting to the Internet as soon as they iron out a few glitches.

In the meantime, I have been asked to write up a review of the first three scripts. The fan girl in me is super excited about this. I have spent the last few days reading through the first three scripts and trying to get my thoughts together.

To kick things off, let me just say that I love the name "Little Blue Box Productions." It fits so perfectly. Although I haven't been able to listen to the entire series as yet (or even to the three stories I've read), the clips I have heard sound good. Even the actor reading the part of the Doctor sounds "Doctorish." I am looking forward to listening to the series as a whole.

I also like that there is an arc to the series, something that ties the separate stories together. The TV show does this quite well, with each season having that thread woven throughout, and I enjoyed seeing the fan series do this too. Having only read three scripts, I'm not in on what the big reveal will be, but I can see the hints being dropped, and I admit that my curiosity is piqued. Although I can enjoy the stories in and of themselves, I am drawn in, wanting to find more clues, wanting to know how it will all fit together.

Time travel is a huge part of Doctor Who, and a problem the Doctor often has is that things happen to him "in the wrong order." For example, he might run into someone who knows him but he does not know. Although the meeting has occurred already for the "stationary" acquaintance, it hasn't happened for the time-traveling Doctor yet. The fan series utilizes this well. The Doctor's companion is a young woman named Alicia. She remembers seeing the Doctor kill her father as a child. This event hasn't happened yet for the Doctor, and he is certain that there must be some mistake. He would never kill a man in view of a child! So he takes Alicia on his travels to try to prove himself to her. Now this is pure speculation, but I'm guessing somehow the series will wrap back around to the event from Alicia's childhood, and we'll learn "the rest of the story"--why the Doctor had to do what he did, or perhaps an alternate ending (another Doctor Who theme is that "time can be rewritten").

As for the three stories themselves, the first one seemed purely introductory. Titled "The Doctor, The Murderer" it sets the stage for the latter episodes. It introduces our cast of characters and our series arc. It asks questions it does not answer. As such, it is the least able to stand on its own, but I thought it set up the series well and whetted one's appetite for more.

"A Method in the Madness" brought back one of the villains from the TV series. I really would not have thought much more could have been done with these characters, but this story drew nicely from the TV episodes, while adding its own creative twist.

"A Hole in the Sky" is perhaps the most ambitious of the first three episodes. It felt a bit longer than the other two, more drawn out. I thought the concept was creative--not your run-of-the-mill villain. It jumped around some, and I found it a bit hard to follow at times, but it really was a unique, well-thought-out story.

Reading a script can be somewhat cumbersome; I really look forward to hearing the stories in their full audio form. Even the short clips I have listened to add so much. Lines that seem stilted when reading them "work" somehow when they are heard. And with music and sound effects, one can feel so much more a part of the action.

I salute the fans at Little Blue Box Productions; it's an ambitious project, but from what I've seen you've done a fine job. :)

Check out if you want more information on the fan audio series. You can also find the links to some clips of the series there.

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