Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: Doctor Who, "Lucie Miller" and "To the Death"

While I wait for the next Fourth Doctor adventure to be released, I returned to the time of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in the 2011 two-part story that starts with "Lucie Miller" and ends with "To the Death." These end Season 4 of the Eighth Doctor Adventures and, befitting a season-ending story, pack an emotional wallop in  under two hours of running time. (Yes, I began at the end. It's an unhealthy compulsion, like peeking at the last page of a novel before one gets started.)

Nicholas Briggs - perhaps best known as the voice of the Daleks - wrote and directed these connected stories (and also voices the Daleks). Lucie, a former companion of the Eighth Doctor, is a victim of a virulent plague. Unlike most other victims, Lucie survives, but is left physically damaged. She tries to call the Doctor for help, but can't contact him. Then the Dalek invasion starts...

The story parallels the First Doctor story, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," in which the Doctor leaves Susan Foreman behind to remain with David Campbell. In "Lucie Miller," Lucie joins forces with Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and her son Alex (Jake McGann). They discover that the Daleks are using human labor to create a huge mine - again, just as in "Dalek Invasion." However, the purpose of the mine turns out to be quite different - and far more dangerous for the universe - than the original plan to put a planetary motor in the core of the Earth.

Also involved in the plot are former companion Tamsin Drew and renegade Time Lord the Monk (seen in the First Doctor stories "The Time Meddler" and "The Daleks' Master Plan"). The Monk is working with the Daleks in their invasion plans while in return he is allowed to loot priceless Earth art, abetted by Tamsin, who thinks he's merely "preserving" the art for posterity.

Though the Doctor is missing for most of "Lucie Miller,"  he plays a central role in "To the Death." However, it's ultimately up to the others to find a way to defeat the Daleks (yet again).

The cast puts in a strong performance, and the script covers some emotionally difficult ground. Both Susan and Lucie, for different reasons, feel abandoned by the Doctor and have to accept how events have worked out. Lucie is angry at being left crippled by the plague. Tamsin understands the true nature of the Monk, while the Monk has his own moral choices to make. In all, a satisfying story.

No comments: