An Audio Drama by Big Finish (#34 in the main range)
This is one of those high concept audio dramas that will divide the fanbase – I can imagine some will absolutely love it, while others will likely hate it. I can’t say it’s like any other Doctor Who dramas I’ve heard, and really would only really work in audio form. You might be asking: “Why is that?” Well, it’s entirely about wordplay, flowery language, vocabulary, and what it means to truly comprehend language. It’s an insanely ambitious premise for a Doctor Who story, and is VERY creative, but that’s almost both a pro and con for the story. It many ways, the ambition to create such a story ends up being it’s very undoing as it gets in a bit over it’s head as the story goes.
“A conference of lexicographers: bromides in tweed. But the leading expert in the field is found dead by her own hand – and by her hologlyphic assistant. Is he responsible? Does the death fit any conventional definitions? Can the Doctor realise who wrote the suicide note and why, exactly, it was riddled with spelling errors?
Peri should help out, but there’s a guy. Someone who loves language even more than the Doctor. Maybe, she realises, enough to kill for. Or perhaps just enough to ask her out to dinner. Unless, of course, he’s already spoken for… Is it madness? Seeking transcendence in the complete lexicon? Having the right words on the tip of your tongue but never quite knowing when to use them? If so, how?
The acting, sound design, and concept are worthy of a lot of kudos, but I can’t find myself getting to hyped about this to be honest. Perhaps if I was more of a fan of linguistics, or reading about things like that I would have appreciated it more, but aside from the concept being novel I found it gets tiresome after a while. Colin Baker is awesome as usual in his role as The Doctor. Baker is the actor that, more than anyone else in the role, has taken the reigns in audio format and MADE his version of The Doctor matter. Given the short end of the stick for the entire 1980’s, he’s at his best here by leaps and bounds. Nicola Bryant is also very good as Peri, who also wasn’t used to her best potential on TV, but thrives here.
This isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but I respect it for trying something different. Sometimes you run the risk of being “too different”, but this stays just clear of that. Its sometimes teetering the line of being pretentious, but I think that is somewhat intentional, as the entire concept of language and those that try to guard “what language is” is sort of what the message is here. You can’t really control language, it’s always evolving and changing, so trying to reign it in is impossible, and trying to do so would drive someone to murder.