"A planetary ecological disaster... An incurable, disfiguring, genetic disease... Aliens, in breach of galactic law...
"Nyssa, under arrest... the TARDIS, inoperable... The Doctor, facing interrogation...
"Another situation of dire peril is unfolding for the Doctor and his companion. However, what if it is not clear who is right and who is wrong? Who is ugly and who is beautiful?
"Where does the story begin, and where does it end?
"Sometimes, it's all a matter of perspective."
"Creatures of Beauty", by Big Finish veteran Nicholas Briggs, is another in a long line of "experimental" Doctor Who audio releases. The key conceit of "Creatures of Beauty" is its storytelling method: instead of setting out the chain of events in a linear fashion as is usual, in "Creaures of Beauty" the narrative is fractured. The story moves seamlessly from the middle, to the beginning, to the end, back to the middle and so on, and the mystery of the events on the planet of Veln unravels gradually in the process. It really is quite masterfully done, for the first three episodes at least.
Unfortunately, the story overreaches itself, having the story's "final scenes" at the end of the third episode, in the process removing the incentive to come back for the fourth and rendering the end of the story itself an anticlimax. The role of episode four is, as it turns out, to reveal a key twist underpinning the whole chain of events. However, the twist is too heavily signposted at too early a stage in the episode, so that when the revelation does come, it is largely predictable.
The majority of the story is structured so cleverly and performed and produced so well that, to begin with, I wanted to give it five stars. However, I consider the disappointing ending to episode three and the subsequent revelation to be a sufficient misfire that I didn't quite feel able to award full marks. None the less, my score for "Creatures of Beauty" is very much at the high end of a four, for daring to do something different and largely succeeding.