Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Rapture

As was the case with "...ish", I had read some fan opinion on "The Rapture" which colored my impressions going in. To put it mildly, fans seemed to really dislike it. Oddly enough, the first time I heard it, I thought it wasn't bad at all. I must have been delirious (or perhaps I was on some of Gabriel's "angel dust"). The major highlight of "The Rapture" is the superb cover. In many ways this story represents everything that bothers me about the 7th Doctor and Ace. Oh, and it adds in plenty of soap opera too. What's not to love?

This story is set on Ibiza and boils down to a pair of nefarious alien brothers who portray themselves as "angels" and run a dance/trance club called "The Rapture". Except, one of the brothers (Gabriel) actually believes he's an angel. Their master plan is to mesmerize their patrons one night with their hypnotic music and whisk them off back to their own dimension to fight in a war for their people. Oh, and Ace has a brother she never knew about.

Writer Joseph Lidster would go on to do much better work for Big Finish. But, his debut story is very weak. In episode two where she meets her long lost, and heretofore unknown brother, we descend into melodramatic soap opera. The prolonged scenes between the two are just painfully bad. Sophie Aldred's whinging is completely unconvincing, and David John (as her brother Liam) is little better. In fact, the cast is generally awful in this from the leads down to the guests - with the notable exception of Tony Blackburn, playing himself.

One interesting part is when Gabriel takes the manic depressive Catronia to "Heaven" via a drug induced hallucination. The audio work here is impressive as her trip gets worse and worse. There is a bit of nifty foreshadowing of the next story when she has auditory hallucinations of the Doctor calling himself "The Sandman". Well, it would be nifty foreshadowing, except it makes absolutely no sense for her to have any knowledge of it.

Most painful is the climax where Jude threatens to kill Ace. At this point, (and it isn't the first or last time) I was praying for him to let her fall to her death. The most painful part here is McCoy. My main knock on McCoy is he is very prone to overacting, particularly when having to convey anger or excitement. He is at his worst here. It's genuinely painful to hear such a pitiful performance from the leads. There are times when I find McCoy's Doctor quite engaging and lovable, but not here.

So, this is not on my list of favorites to put it mildly. An alien invasion which amounts to a kidnapping of dozens as opposed to a worldwide (or even city wide) threat. Add in some generally deplorable acting by virtually the whole cast. There are some nice moments. When the Doctor brings Ace to Ibiza for a proper holiday after her harrowing time in both "Dust Breeding" and "Colditz", it's really quite sweet. The introduction of the Doctor's heretofore unknown old friend Gustavo is very enjoyable, until the pointless twist near the end where Gustavo (played by Carlos Riera) has to join the overwrought acting club. I also like it when the Doctor relaxes and works behind the bar. McCoy can be so good when he is understated. Too bad it doesn't last. The silly soap opera elements with Ace and her brother Liam are uninteresting and poorly performed. The alien story is generally uninteresting and has a flat climax. But, at least the trance/techno version of the Who theme is mildly amusing... The 7th Doctor with Ace won't be around for a while, and thankfully it's much better when they return.

Rating: Poor


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