THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND THE LAST TWO
PARTS OF THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMA
BIG FINISH SPECIAL
RELEASED IN JULY 2002.
the Doctor RETURNS
TO Excelis TO FIND a
at war with the rest
of Artaris, living off
a drugged and broken
Who is Lord Sutton,
and what hold does
he have over the
What are the Meat
Puppets, and what
role do they play
in the eternal war?
And why is the TIME
LORD's arrival the
final piece in a plan
that's been centuries
in the making?
Excelis Decays really surprised me. Craig Hinton being one of my preferred Who scribes and Sylvester McCoy probably being my favourite of the Excelis Doctors, I think I was looking forward to this story more than either of its predecessors and - perhaps due
to that weight of expectation - I was left feeling quite deflated after listening to it.
And it’s hard to be upbeat about such an overridingly morose piece of drama. Hinton’s title for his chapter of the Excelis saga is appropriate indeed: Decays. This play is dark, even by the seventh Doctor’s standards. There’s grim, and then there’s grim...
Furthermore, despite a superlative
talent pool (Mark Gatiss, Yee Jee
Tso, Alistair Lock) the supporting
characters aren’t very memorable,
with the notable exception of Ian
Collier’s bitter old war horse Sallis and his prole mistress, Jancis (Penelope McDonald). The confrontation between Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor and Anthony Head’s ‘Lord Sutton’ was well worth the wait, however. At this point, Grayvorn is far older than even the Doctor and, for the first time since the trilogy began, on an equal intellectual footing with him as regards knowledge of space and time.
Where Excelis Decays really falls down though is in its resolution. As if the ‘handbag’ relic was not farcical enough in itself, to have it contain every soul that has lived in Excelis for the past 13,000 years and then to have Sutton reanimate those souls as “Meat Puppets” (aren’t they a grunge band?), an elite band of psychopathic killers, is just a little bit too much for my taste. The ultimate ending, with the Doctor fleeing Artaris alone, powerless to stop anything, is not really the payoff to the trilogy that I would have hoped for. Still, as this play marks the beginning of the end for the seventh Doctor, I suppose that in terms of tone at least Excelis Decays is right on the money.
On a lighter note, despite the writer’s promises to the contrary, he couldn’t resist opening
this play with some of his customary fanwank – the Doctor talking to the TARDIS about its new console room, first seen in the final chapter of the final seventh Doctor New Adventure, Lungbarrow.
And so whilst Excelis Decays may certainly have its moments, I didn’t find it a satisfying resolution of the wonderful story set in motion in Excelis Dawns and continued in Excelis Rising. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of grit in my Doctor Who, but this one was just a
little bit too gritty for my palette.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This play’s blurb offers no guidance as to when it might take place. However, the completed overhaul of the TARDIS console room referred to in the opening scene suggests that these events immediately follow the seventh Doctor’s final New Adventure, Lungbarrow, in which the regeneration of the console room begins.
It would seem, then, that the Relic’s hold on the Doctor’s soul was enough to have him to put his fateful mission to Skaro on hold for a little while…
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