Thursday, October 4, 2012
"Bloodtide" is the first story to be penned by Jonathan Morris, and compared to a lot of his future stories is a remarkably traditional, straigtforward type of Doctor Who story. The Silurians are the featured monster du jour, and unsurprisingly are well realized by the Big Finish audio wizards. This features the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn who are wonderful as always, though separated for much of the story. The most interesting aspect of this story is that the Doctor meets Charles Darwin in the 1830's on the Galapagos Islands and features a fictional version of how Darwin first begins to come up with the theory of evolution.
Darwin is played with aplomb by Miles Richardson who skillfully delivers the portrayal of youthful brilliance. Darwin's study of the wildlife of the islands is leading to his theory of evolution and listening to the devout man wrestling with his crisis of faith is riveting stuff. It's also funny how Evelyn and the Doctor at different times can't resist planting a few (of his own) ideas in his head. When Evelyn coins the phrase "survival of the fittest" for him his unimpressed reaction to the "odd expression" is amusing. Morris does his best not to pick a side on the creation vs. evolution debate - even throwing in the twist that mankind is a product of neither since the Silurian scientist Tulok was ultimately responsible for triggering mans evolution through genetic manipulation. This explanation for the Missing Link is a fun plot point.
The Silurians are well realized in the audio format. The voice effects are well done, and thankfully patterned after "Doctor Who and the Silurians" in favor of "Warriors of the Deep". The story does feel similar to "... the Silurians", but adding the disturbing facet of the Silurians actually eating the "apes" as food is interesting. When the Doctor and Captain Fitzroy discover the Silurian "larder" with dead human corpses hanging on hooks, it's suitably gruesome. Another fun addition to the plot is a redemption for the dreaded Myrka. Morris' version obviously benefits from not having to be realized visually, and is portrayed as a monstrously large version (Morris seems to differentiate this version by calling it an adult version, implying that the "pantomime horse" monstrosity from "Warriors of the Deep" was not fully grown. Thankfully, no one attempts to subdue the Myrka with a karate kick in "Bloodtide".) It is a little odd that the Myrka has a lengthy attack on the ship "The Beagle" and is unable to sink it, but ends up destroying the Silurian submersible almost instantly. I guess the electric properties of the creature had a more profound impact on the metallic Silurian vessel?
One other true highlight is when incarcerated, Darwin is discussing his crisis of faith with Fitzroy, who is unsurprisingly skeptical of Darwin's theories. They ask the Doctor his opinion, and it's another wonderful, quiet moment for Colin Baker's Doctor. He shrewdly avoids picking a side between science vs. religion and instead speaks of the wonders of the universe. It's yet another example of how wonderful Big Finish has been to this characterization of the 6th Doctor. This type of moment, is never done nearly as good during his television era, and it continues to enrage me at how much the production team failed this era of the show and largely squandered having such a gifted actor in the lead role.
Ultimately, "Bloodtide" is an entertaining, somewhat traditional Doctor Who story. It's fun hearing the Silurians again, and it's a fun yarn with some nice philosophical exploration. The pairing of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn continues to build its reputation as one of the best Doctor/Companion pairings ever (and it keeps getting better from here). It's amusing that Morris' first story was so straightforward when you consider some of the Big Finish stories he would go on to write. It's timely to note that one of Morris' ideas when brainstorming for this story was the idea of the Silurians having sent a space ark out into space as an alternative escape for their population to hibernation. Can you imagine dinosaurs... on a spaceship?! No, that idea would never work.