THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
"SON OF THE DRAGON"
BIG FINISH CD#102
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER
On a planet with no
name, the Doctor
confronted by a
faulty memory and
some killer plants.
In a distant galaxy,
Erimem leads a
Back on Earth, Peri
tells her son about
the good old days
when she used to
travel with a man
called The Doctor.
The Mind's Eye
Although the linking thread of plot that holds “The Mind’s Eye” together is wholly derivative, I have to take my hat off to Colin Brake for taking a done-to-death notion and using it to tell an enchanting and insightful story. This fleeting three-parter is littered with memorable characters, each portrayed splendidly by the respective members of the stellar cast.
Young Thomas Brodie-Sangster of “Human Nature” and Love Actually fame gives a remarkable and subtly layered performance as Peri’s wayward stepson, Kyle, whilst Owen Teale – who Doctor Who fans will remember from “Vengeance of Varos”, as well as the outstandingly creepy Torchwood episode “Countrycide” – convinces as both Erimem’s
right-hand man Malarou and also the villainous scientist, Hayton. Teale’s performance here may not be anywhere near as chilling as his recent Torchwood outing was, but it is an accomplished performance nonetheless. I was also pleased to hear comedienne Rebecca Front - who has been in just about everything decent on television since Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge back in the early 1990s - excelling in her first Big Finish outing. Since Doctor Who returned to our television screens in 2005, it is absolutely astonishing just how many big-name Brits have queued up to star in Big Finish plays. Now I am certainly not knocking the early Big Finish output, but I think that if you were to objectively compare recent releases to the earliest ones that Big Finish churned out then one of the most evident differences would be that the talent pool is much more diverse now, which of course can only benefit the plays.
Turning to the story itself, “The Mind’s Eye” sees both Peri and Erimem attacked by an extraordinary and decidedly dangerous form of plant life that leaves them both living in their own little dream worlds as it feeds off their neural energy. That old science-fiction chestnut
of the virtual reality allows Brake to show these two popular companions in something of a different light. For example, Peri’s subconscious creates for her a world that is either torn straight from the pages of a Womens’ Weekly or borrowed from the trashiest soap opera imaginable. Throughout the sections of this story set in Peri’s ‘reality’, every so often an
even more overtly trashy soap opera can be heard in the background, really making explicit the foundations on which Peri’s world is built. A world where Peri is all grown-up and has a live-in lover and a troubled stepson. A world where Peri’s lover works away a lot and looks like he might be playing around with her best friend. A world where Peri can be knocked down by a bus in one scene and then getting married in the next. A world completely dissimilar to the one she inhabits when she is travelling with the Doctor.
Correspondingly, Erimem’s ‘reality’ reveals much about her own aspirations; aspirations
that it seems will take her away from the TARDIS crew in the imminent future. With “The Mind’s Eye”, Brake reminds us that Erimem was once revered as a God and that she is more than capable of ruling a country; a colony; or perhaps even a whole world. In how he depicts her rule of New Cairo, it seems clear that Erimem is longing for the life that she
once abandoned. No doubt eagle-eyed fans will spot that the Erimem-less “Mission of the Viyrans” is set after January’s “Bride of Peladon”, and if the closing few lines of this serial are anything to go by that it does look like Erimem is set to leave. With C’rizz shown the
door last month, and presumably Charley following him through it next month, it looks like Nicholas Briggs is really clearing house at Big Finish.
Finally, it has to be said that Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris are both absolutely outstanding in this serial. Bryant is - for once - allowed to play Peri as being genuinely older and purportedly wiser. Morris, on the other hand, is given the opportunity to once again evoke Erimem’s majestic comportment fabulously – so much so that the listener almost forgets all about the amiable ‘best friend to Peri’ that Erimem has become. For his part, Peter Davison – sporting a beard in the photograph in the CD booklet, somewhat bizarrely - is not given as much to get his teeth into by the script and unfortunately it does show in the finished product. His role is traditionally ‘Doctorly’ and as always Davison acquits himself well, but the nature of the story means that both his young companions overshadow him almost entirely.
Nevertheless, the story rattles along at quite a startling pace, the three-episode format fitting the story like a glove. My interest neither waxed nor waned and the marvellous cast held me transfixed throughout. For an audio that I did not expect a lot from, “The Mind’s Eye” certainly proved to be a wonderful little surprise. And so whilst I have never really got on with Brake’s stuff in print, both his Big Finish audio plays have been irrefutably impressive and so I would heartily recommend both this play as well as 2005’s uber-traditional “Three’s A Crowd” to anyone.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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