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Scherzo: The Doctor explores the rhythm of life
on 22 January 2013
This is the fifty second release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Paul McGann as Eight and India Fisher as Charley Pollard. It is the first in a season of four linked Eighth Doctor stories that follow directly from the events of Zagreus. There are 4 episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.
The producers of the Big Finish range seem to have taken the decision to do something new and experimental with the Eighth Doctor. His stories have morphed over time from straight adventures as we know them into tales that are a bit more challenging. The mind bending Zagreus marked the full transformation. At the end of that epic, the Doctor and Charley voluntarily departed for the divergent universe, to remove the possibility of infecting our universe with anti-time. This is the story of the consequences of their actions.
Cleverly playing with perceptions and senses, the story explores how the relationship between Eight and Charley has been irrevocably changed by their actions. It's a character study that goes into what it means to be a companion of the Doctor, why he has companions and why they want to travel with him. It also starts to explore the possibilities of this new universe, with different laws and properties to our own.
It's a bit of a masterpiece. OK, so occasionally it strays into the overly sentimental, and the L word (you know, that 4 letter one that blokes are traditionally uncomfortable with) comes up a few times too often, but that can be forgiven. It works so beautifully to take you to places you never imagined you would see in the Whoniverse. The script is excellent, but it's the performances that really make it. McGann portrays the change in Eight's character from the happy-go-lucky carefree adventurer to the weary, wary man who has endured too much to a T. There is now a feeling of deep pain behind his mask, and McGann just makes you feel sympathy for this hero who has sacrificed so much. And India Fisher s usual excels as Charley, portraying her confusion, hurt, and strength of character.
It's a perfect little duet, taking us to unexpected places and sensitively analysing relationships. It's also got a really good adventure at it's heart. In all 5 stars for this excellent effort.