The Song of Megaptera (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories 1.07) [Audiobook] (Audio CD) Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 Jun 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
It runs for four episodes, spread over two discs. Episode length is twenty five to thirty minutes approx. Which is a nice change from some of the long two part stories earlier in this series.
The story sees the TARDIS crew caught up in an interstellar whale hunt, as a whaling spaceship tracks down a space whale [It can be said without any spoilers that there is no tie in between this and a recent episode of the tv show]. With an embittered captain on the whaler and something lurking in the bottom of the ship, the Doctor and Peri have a fight on their hands to save the space whale.
And that's before they get closer to the creature itself, and into some strange territory....
This doesn't feel like it's been written for audio or adapted to make it work for the medium. It feels like a pretty straight translation of a tv script. And that's what makes it work quite well. Because by being a standard story for the tv show you know what you're going to get, and thus it zips along quite nicely and pushes all the right buttons. It considers the issues of whaling and makes other points about the economic situation and the like without ever hammering them home. There are several characters who are potential comedy relief and they are genuinely entertaining without ever going over the top.Read more ›
The finished story has been likened by some to a Douglas Adams style late 70s effort, and it is fair to say that the play does have shades of Adams' whimsical surrealism. There is also a comedy double act consisting of two fairly inept guards in the mould of Rosencrantz and Guilderstern - or for Doctor Who fans Jago & Litefoot or Garron and Unstoffe - and this Robert Holmes-esque touch beefs the story up no end, providing light relief in what is a fairly dark story. The hubristic Captain Greeg's harvesting of space whales naturally provokes The Doctor's ire, and he and travelling companion Peri are quickly identified as environmental saboteurs. Fortunately there is a distraction in the shape of a murderous beast loose in the bowels of the ship, and the time travellers are soon the least of the captain's worries...
Pat Mills' script is pretty unadventurous to be honest, and neither The Doctor nor Peri have any particularly good dialogue to work with. Colin Baker's 'Sixie' is his usual bumptious self, at one point altering the personality of the on-board computer simply to wind-up the captain, however Peri's hallucinatory scene and the interplay between the two leads just doesn't seem to work as it usually does, and we're left with a competent but not particularly memorable slice of Doctor Who.
Plot: A little heavy-handed anti-whaling message perhaps more appropriate for its time than now, it nevertheless still has an interesting plot that keeps changing the nature of the story as it goes along. There is a definite under-current of anti-whaling sentiment, but it does not come out in favour of primitive whaling either. On top of that there is a Jonah and the Whale style extra story which takes the second part in a different direction. While there is no failing here, some of the other versions were for a larger TARDIS crew (including an introduction for Turlough) and I don't think that would have worked quite as well.
Script: Pat Mills has already shown his script-writing ability on a couple of Eighth Doctor stories and here he goes back to an old script that shows the same level of insight into the characters. At least one role has been recast from the intended male to a female character, but not to the detriment of the script (and this sort of thing did occasionally happen on TV)
Other: The only scene that might have been difficult to show on television would have been when the Doctor, Peri and the Travellers are shot at while standing on top of a giant Space Whale. But in fact I think CSO was sufficiently far forward at that point that it could have been done by using an establishing shot and then close-ups for the detail, along with echoing voices.
A brilliant piece of Who that might could easily have been the Kinda of its day (i.e. brilliant story with dodgy effects).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Doctor and Peri both have a very solid turn in this with Peri's delirious rantings in Episode 2 being particularly hilarious. Baker and Bryant have solid chemistry together which (as Baker points out in the extras) is unhampered by the usual angst and bickering required of stories of the time.
The story has a lighter touch, with a Quasi-Douglas Adams or Gareth Roberts feel at times. While not all of its humor hit the mark, the story features some very fun and entertaining characters with a psychotic computer, an officious first officer who sends missives to the corporate office when a vital decision must be made, and a hyperstitious chief engineer. You also get a crazy cult that lives inside a space whale thrown in at no additional charge.
Those that are looking for a balanced and nuanced look at ecological issues won't find it in this story. However, what makes The Song of Megaptera work is that it's entertaining (although not always very deep) characters and some clever concepts make it entertaining despite its faults.
The Doctor and Peri come across the magnificent time-traveling space whales, but also come across space whalers. They must save this magnificent creature, but the T.A.R.D.I.S.'s time field is proving more dangerous than the whalers themselves. There's only one solution: transport the T.A.R.D.I.S. inside the whale!
Makes perfect sense.
Overall, though, it was an enjoyable story. A good bit of timey-wimey stuff, a good bit of morality tale.