Review: Big Finish – ‘Doctor Who – Orbis’

When last we left Doctor Who and his plucky girl assistant, Lucie Miller, Doctor Who had pushed that naughty Evil chappy, Morbius, over a cliff – some things just never change – and had unfortunetly forgotton to let go.. Oopsies… and Lucie Miller had been shot.

It happens.

Orbis carries on from where the last Paul McGann series finished. Well, for Lucie, anyway. For the Doctor, well…lets just say time passes….and passes…..and passes….

Lucie has been shot with a temporal bullet type mcguffin thingy by the Headhunter – who still reminds me of Neil Pye’s (from the Young Ones) mother on ‘Neil’s Heavy Concept Album’ – especially the track ‘Bad Karma in the UK’… ahem, I’m drifting. This bullet thingy means she can be killed and then ressurected more times then Ainley’s Master on a bad day. Actually, it sounds quite fun. It’d certainly let Richard Dawkins come up with definate proof either way, LOL. No, seriously, imagine the fun…you shoot Trevor, then bring him back, then shoot him, then bring him back then…. Instant YouTube classic if you ask me…Note to self: Remember to bring him back, tempting as the other option is… Ooh, but I’m bitchy this afternoon – I’m putting it down to only having had the one nice cup of tea so far and having to go into town ‘cos our local ATM no longer works ‘cos the local supermarket has shut.

Anyway, the Headhunter has somehow got hold of the TARDIS. Bless. That Ship is such a tart, honestly. And she needs to find the Doctor. Or else <DRAMATIC CHORD!> the universe will end. Or something. So off the two ladies pop, into Time, Space and Debenhams.

I may be lying about that last part.

The relationship between Lucie and the Headhunter is in places hilariously funny. Lucie is perfect Doctor Who companion material in that she’s thick, accidently clever, slow on the uptake, yet tenacious, plucky and the perfect foil to McGann’s Doctor. Talking of whom…

‘Old Doctor’ is stuck on this planet, see? And has been for, wait for it…. 500 years! Just as well this story has come along as he’s probably filled up that diary of his by now.

‘Tuesday – spoke to bubbling, molluscy type life form.’

‘Wednesday – spoke to bubbling, molluscy type life form.’

You can see how this may, possibly, get to someone. As it is he has the Sisterhood of Karn to thank for being stranded on this somewhat damp planet. Bless them and their amazing powers of teleportation. Possibly a map, an A-Z or a universal version of Tom-Tom may be of use to the dear Sisterhood…?

Anyway, there is evil afoot. No, really. Eeeevil. However, it’s a very clever sort of evil in that it involves using the local planning laws – people from Jersey will be all to familiar with this type of evil, lets be honest here. And somehow the Headhunter is involved. As is the Remote Stellar Manipulator that Morbius happened to have lying around the place. Now, face facts, when a Remote Stellar Manipulator gets involved you just know it’s going to end badly for someone – just ask Davros.

‘I say, you Dalek fellows, heres fun. I’ve got this Hand thingy – makes up for me only having the one, lets be honest here, chaps. What say we fire it off, eh? It’ll be a jolly hoot, what? Yes? Right oh…shoot the thing then. Sorry? What was that? Skaro’s sun..? Oh….Oh blast. Um…look, you chaps, I’m just going into this little escape capsule thing to have a think about what we’re going to do next. You just concentrate on mixing up some cocktails for the party later. What do you mean, ‘What party?’ You know, the ‘We now have mastery over Time’ Party? Yes, yes, ok, I admit, that went a bit pear shaped, but still, a partys a party… Look, let me go have a little think, ok? Oh and you may want to consider moving the ship as I think, just think mind you, that the Hand thingy may be on its way back here – and we really don’t want it’s sort hanging around, now do we?’

You see? It never ends well.

So, it’s been 500 years for Time’s Kitten…and..ah…he’s forgotton a lot. Including plucky girl assistant Lucie Miller. So, when she turns up, all dripping and grumpy, he hasn’t the faintest idea who she is and indeed, thinks she’s behind the Evil that may be occuring. Or at least, the nasty form filling at the local planning office.

Sheridan Smith continues to amaze with a wonderfully brilliant performance. She is, quite simply, the best thing to happen to the Big Finish range  in years. The charecter of Lucie brings out the sense of fun in the Doctor that’s been missing for so long. I’ve been moaning that Big Finish does have a tendancy to take itself far too seriously. Well, this play is very much in the style of ‘Partners in Crime’ – a hoot from start to finish. Though, without giving too much away, it doesn’t end well for the locals who all sound like Mattresses from H2G2 – they floop and glooble…I was expecting Marvin to turn up! Andrew Sachs is, I’m afraid, wasted in this production. He needs a decent role to really get his teeth into. And no, I do NOT mean Adric! Bring back Mathew Waterhouse, that’s what I say! McGann is his normal, sterling self – a bit grumpy, understandably, to be honest. And I’m wondering if BF are slowly aiming Doc 8 towards the Time War as he’s started to go on about ‘stupid apes’, something his successor was wont to do… Not that they’ll ever do a Time War series….shame that. Ah well.

So, bottom line then. A great deal of fun, not too much pre-knowledge of the range needed to enjoy this – and just who is the Headhunter really working for? She claims that without the Doctor someone has to take his role in the universe… I’m really enjoying these McGann series, mainly because of the dynamic between McGann and Smith.

But for Bod’s sake, someone take Nick Briggs into a little room and beat him till he agrees to change the theme. I said on the WhoCast that it’s a great track, just inappropriate to top and tail a play.

Buy this play – get the cd or download it…you won’t regret it.

1 Response to “Review: Big Finish – ‘Doctor Who – Orbis’”

  1. 1 wyn
    May 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Great review Tony. The trouble with BF is that for the length of the episode (45mins?) the cost of the CD/download seems hard to justify, when compared to the DVD releases. If I had money to burn, I’d certainly invest in a BF subscription. Once I get that lottery win, I may never need leave the house again…
    I’ll certainly look out for the new BF series on BBC7 if they broadcast it, as they did with the first 2 Doctor & Lucie series.

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