Tony Fyler investigates an Amazonian adventure that’s a little sub-Prime.
You can see where the idea for The Warehouse came from. Or if you can’t, it’s quite possible that you’re living in a cave in 1950. Online shopping is an area ripe for satire, and this takes it a little further, with a giant warehouse in the sky, staffed by clones, while some planet-side catastrophe reduces the populace to primitive religion, worshipping those who live in the warehouse.
There’s a slightly tiresome literalism involved in the development of this dystopia, but it is at least very true to the day in which it’s set – the days of Paradise Towers, Delta and the Bannermen, and as writer Mike Tucker is quick to point out, not a whole lot else – the Seventh Doctor and Mel era, such as it is, really spans four stories, one of which is a regeneration story and one of which sees Mel leave and Ace arrive, to really, it’s those two stories that are pure Seventh Doctor and Mel times. And yes, technically, the Warehouse would have fitted in well in between them.
Whether that’s a good thing to do is rather more debatable.
There’s quite a bit going on in the story, to be fair, but it seems to take forever to actually get anywhere – the first two episodes, while technically involving quite a bit of running about among the aisles of the Great Warehouse In The Sky, feel like the sum total of their actual achievement is a lot of running about in a giant warehouse, making one or two computer gags, running into rats, running away from smelly mould and a bit of what-the-helling. Meanwhile, in the long tradition of high priests and priestesses in Who that follow a nonsense because their faith compels them to it (Tlotoxl, we’re looking at you), the fabulous Dillie Keane manages to do more with the part of Lydek, High Priestess of the Catalogue or somesuch malarkey, than the part generally demands, giving her a nuance that’s rare in the breed – even if, as a fan of Dillie’s work with Fascinating Aida, we can’t resist thinking of this every time she invokes the holy loyalty card:
Indeed, Dillie Keane and Sylvester McCoy tend to stand out in terms of performance in a story where, more often than not, one actor plays three clones, each with subtly different personalities, though special mention has to also go to Philip Franks as the Supervisor, who seems to almost skip through the two hour story, being gloriously loopy.
Once the – to be fair, quite obvious – truth of the situation on the planet is revealed, the dominoes of story begin to fall quite neatly. If a=true, then b=necessary, and the Doctor and Mel are on different sides of the equation for a while, albeit in Mel’s case less by way of choice. And to his credit, Mike Tucker does eventually reveal quite a gripping coup de grace, a threat that may well have been grounded in news stories some years back about the latest planned delivery methods of a certain leading online retailer. Here, that’s subverted to a deliciously deadly purpose, and again, Keane comes into her own, lending the story’s final act some solid gravitas when it could quite easily degenerate into too much silliness for its own weight to bear. There’s a slightly depressing Troughtonesque basicness to the main villain though, that would have been ripe for parody even in the McCoy era, however much it makes a degree of sense given the warehouse setting.
Overall, as far as the latest trilogy of stories is concerned, We Are The Daleks aimed for barking invention and got at least halfway there, and The Warehouse appears to aim for stolid eighties Who, and delivers it – unfortunately replete with all the padding, character shortcuts and generally nonsensical whimsy that sometimes came with it. Whereas We Are The Daleks was half a light year from perfect in terms of its storytelling clarity, The Warehouse delivers exactly what it says on the tin. Which is fine if the idea of spending two hours in a smelly mouldy, rat-infested warehouse full of clones is your thing. If you prefer your eighties Who, delivered in retrospect, with a bit more oomph and imagination, The Warehouse might sadly prove to be about as forgettable as it sounds.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk