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     MAX WARP: Boys, toys, but no Lucie joys    
     Author:  DarthSkeptical
     Dated:  Tuesday, March 04 2008 @ 03:29 AM EST
     Viewed:  1,425 times  
    DW ReviewsWith the February release of Max Warp, we're now a quarter of the way through the second series of Eighth Doctor/Lucie Miller adventures by Big Finish. I've expressed on the forums my near-revulsion at the opening story, Dead London, and am glad that Warp was indeed a better ride than the season opener. Humor, as you'd expect of Jonathan Morris, was present in abundance. The behind-the-scenes interviews at the end of the disc describe this adventure as Top Gear meets Agatha Christie, and that's certainly what it is. For Doctor Who Magazine comic fans, it also shares some common ground with "The Free-Fall Warriors". And like much of Jonathan Morris' writing, there's also the scent of Douglas Adams lingering over the proceedings, particularly in the way that the commerce of the future seems awfully similar to the worst excesses of capitalism today.

    As a one-off adventure, you'll have fun listening to this one. The actors never miss a beat, the production values are at the higher end of Big Finish's standard, the 50-minute length feels right for this plot, and there's a good bit of Doctorin' at the end. It's a tasty bit of confection wrapped around a Sunmakers-like morality play.

    But, as with London, I continue to bemoan the lack of integration with last season. What happened to Lucie last year was a Big Damned Deal. I still hope we're going to get some portion of one of the stories this year which takes a moment to reflect on that, but I've sorta stopped holding my breath for it.

    If we're not going to get a connective thread, what we really need is a story which is again Lucie-centric in some way. The joy of last season was in part its similarity to the Eccleston year. By being companion-centric, we as listeners could discover the Doctor from a different point of view. This allowed both companion and Doctor to do unexpected things. This second audio series, though, isn't particularly shaping up that way. So far, Lucie's just another companion without much motivating her. In fact, she comes across in Warp as having limited deductive reasoning skills one of her greater strengths in series 1. Moreover, her spunk and defiance was largely leveled at everyone but the Doctor in this story. The sparks between the Doctor and Lucie, so evident in series 1, are so far less than prominent in series 2.

    For once, I was actually disturbed by the behind-the-scenes extras on this one, too. Nick Briggs and company reveal at the end of the disc that the script required no rewriting. Really? No rewriting at all? So you boys read the whole thing and thought, "This guy Morris has nailed the Doctor-Lucie relationship"? That's just sad.

    It would be entirely depressing were it not for a cryptic line from Nick Brigg's latest to-do list, which not only confirms there will be a third series, but that "Having read [the storyline for the fourth story], I concur with Alan [Barne]'s notes, and make a couple of points about the Doctor and Lucie's relationship in this story. We need to be certain that the development is right from the previous stories." That's a little glimmer of hope, at least, that there might be something special coming in the future.

    On the other hand, he also revealed that the format for the third series will be switching to two-parters. He says that the reasons will be made clear, but I doubt the explanation will be sufficient for my tastes. Cliffhangers for every single adventure suck. Plain and simple,. They force the writer to insert artificial dramatic peaks, which can really screw with the natural rise of tension. For every indelible "Cybermen-breaking-out-of-their-tomb" cliffhanger, there were ten pointless ones. On unbroadcast audio, they're especially silly, because you buy the whole adventure at once. Series 1 of this audio series got the balance just right. Why on Earth does Big Finish need to tamper with that success? I suppose for the same reason that Series 2 has stripped us of the best version of the theme music and deprived us of genuine Doctor-companion conflict: because they can.

    For my money, Max Warp reveals a series at a crossroads. Whether we're at the start of a devolution of the Eighth Doctor adventures into some sort of weird 80s redux, or merely taking a temporary side trip through the Land of the Forgettably Fun, is as yet unknown. All that' is clear is that this series' kinder, gentler Lucie is no Lucie at all.




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  • MAX WARP: Boys, toys, but no Lucie joys | 4 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
    MAX WARP: Boys, toys, but no Lucie joys
    Authored by: Tin-Dog-Podcast on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 05:01 AM EST
    Max Warp is a lot of Fun... if you are fond of theUKTV show Top Gear (see what they did with the name?)and also enjoy spotting small HHGTTG refs. The basic tale does have an air of mid 80's knowingness that was pops up in Cbaker and some McCoy stories.

    Lucie is underused and in all fareness it could have been a solitary doctor story.

    Ive just listend to the condemned and have more issues with the ... well thats for a diffrent thread.

    I do hope that the story ark that is Lucie will come back but my issues with these discs is that they are so very short. Just a little longer than the TV episodes.. WE dont have ADHD (not all of us) and could stand more plot and development.

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    Home of the Tin Dog Podcast
    MAX WARP: Boys, toys, but no Lucie joys
    Authored by: DarthSkeptical on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 07:02 PM EST
    Sure, the odd two-parter worked well last series. But they were genuine two-parters, making the total story length ~100 minutes. What's coming in series 3 are stories comprised of two, 25-minute parts. So the story length isn't changing; we're just getting a cliffhanger in the middle. In the so-called "classic" era, I liked two parters a lot.

    But that's rather the point: it's a format of the past. The special thing about series 1 of Eighth Doctor/Lucie adventures is that they were finally dragging Big Finish into the present. This totally feels like a step backward. About the only good reason I can think of doing this is if series 3 is going to return to BBC7, and the terms of the contract are that they provide shorter episodes so that the broadcast schedule can be stretched to 14 weeks or so.

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    My doctorate is purely honorary and Harry here is only qualified to work on sailors.

    MAX WARP: Boys, toys, but no Lucie joys
    Authored by: tarashnat on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 12:46 AM EST

    I kept thinking Leisure Hive and Timelash when listening to this story... If I could have kept those parallels from entering my mind, I would have enjoyed this story so much more. The twists in the plot were good, though.

    Regarding the episode format for series three of the Eighth Doctor stories, I think he aludes to the stories driving the format, not that they were being written to fit that 2x 25 minute format. This may not actually be as bad as you think, Darth.

    Taras

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    Can't an actor go out for a fag without being swarmed by paparazzi?