A Big Finish Doctor Who audio Drama (#36 in the main range)
I’m not the biggest fan of the Seventh Doctor stories that have the same tone as the old Virgin New Adventures novels. I wasn’t really keeping up with the franchise when those were being released, and I usually find them too dark and depressing, and honestly somewhat “preachy” – this has carried on into some of these Big Finish adventures. While I have limited experience with them, a lot of them take the fun out of the show for me. I cringed when I realized this was not only a look at late 90’s youth culture, but a take on religion. I figured I was going to get a heavy dose of “these kids are outta control!” mixed with a ham-fisted atheist message as written by a middle-aged man. Thankfully my worries were largely unfounded, and despite my qualms about these sorts of stories, I found this generally entertaining. Aside from Colditz, this was probably my favorite of this “series” in this timeline, but I’m also a huge history buff, so there’s that.
“Ibiza, 1997, and thousands of young people are acting like mindless zombies. Which is to be expected. Ibiza, the island of dance music, sex, drugs and alcohol, is the ultimate hedonistic paradise. God has sent help from on high to save the sinners of Ibiza. He has sent His angels to save their souls. Which would be simple enough if these souls didn’t include an alien time-traveller working in a bar, a woman who disappeared in 1987, a young man carrying a photograph of a girl he’s never met and an Irish girl who doesn’t even know who she is anymore.”
I do listen to some forms of electronic music, but have no real connection to the club scene, so I can’t speak for the authenticity of the setting for a multitude of reasons including the above, but it seemed to tackle some of the issues related to that – drug use, belonging, escapism, substitute for religion etc. I thought this was very interesting, and despite being somewhat dark at moments, it didn’t overdo it.
Ace comes across a shadow of her past at the worst possible time in this story. Not only is she trying to move on from some of the horrors of the past (namely a Nazi prison camp), going as far as changing her preferred name to “McShane”, but she is trying to relax for once. That all comes crashing down when she meets with a brother that she never knew she had. This complicates things, and it almost seems like Ace refuses to even speak to the poor guy, much less let him into her life. This was an interesting side story, and I wish Big Finish further explored this in some way, but as I understand it this is the only adventure he pops up in.
Overall this was a good story, I’m not sure its up in my top rankings by any means, but it is one of my more well-liked Seven and Ace stories. It tells a compelling story full of all of the tension one would expect from a story about a religious cult, and avoids the “base under siege” motif that a lot of Doctor Who stories have. It dealt with real world issues in a way that was interesting and not preachy, and kudos to the writers for creating a “modern” setting (for 2002 at least) without pandering or using it as a way to criticize people. Overall, a solid listen.