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Into the Abyss
on 12 March 2015
It is a strange state of affairs that out of all time and space the Randomiser frequently takes the Tardis to Earth. We are often told that the Earth is the Doctor’s favourite planet but surely the Black Guardian would realise this. Hence it is easy to see why Romana, with no predilection for Earth, would be irritated with this odd behaviour from the Randomiser. The Doctor, who as usual appears quite blasé about the Black Guardian catching up with him, only concession to his companion’s frustration is to take them to the Mariana Trench; somewhere, he perceives, could possibly be the safest place on Earth. How wrong he is.
Setting the adventure on a submarine in the Mariana Trench is a fairly original idea. It loses some of its impact because ‘Cold War’ was shown at around the time that this audio was released; an unfortunate coincidence. Of course, in both stories the submarine setting soon lends itself to the less original ‘base under siege’ type storyline. Using the remote undersea locale is also, inevitably, a bit like setting a story in deep space; so the setting doesn’t feel that different.
Often the play feels more like a ghost story than anything. There is quite a lot of stuff thrown in; goblins, phantoms, ghosts, telepathy, possession. There is also an attack by a giant jellyfish that is somewhat reminiscent of Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’. Sometimes there is, perhaps, a bit too much involved and things seem a little muddled.
The use of intelligent squids is a nice touch which ties in with recent evolutionary ideas that suggest squids are one of the most intelligent species on the planet.
Repaired from his encounter with the Laan, K-9 receives a reasonably large role after hardly appearing at all in the rest of the series so far. It seems odd that he should receive his first substantial role of the series in a water based story. There are echoes of possession by the Shadow in ‘The Armageddon Factor’ but John Leeson plays it more malevolently this time. It is quite disturbing to hear such tones from the mechanical companion.
For such a small cast in a claustrophobic setting the story doesn’t really showcase any of the supporting actors. The characters aren’t really that defined or memorable. You might expect Alice Krige to be the role of a wonderful villain but even she is playing a fairly bland character. Nothing like the Borg Queen unfortunately.
One of the strongest elements of the release is the sound and audio effects. They help to make everything quite atmospheric and add to the sense of confinement and claustrophobia.