Big Finish: Doctor Who THE GREAT SPACE ELEVATOR Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who THE GREAT SPACE ELEVATOR Review

Matthew Kresal takes the elevator.

With the Companion Chronicles, Big Finish found themselves able to tell stories with the first four Doctors. Coming at a time when recasts weren't an option, the range opened up new alleys of storytelling with those Doctors and, more specifically, their companions. The Great Space Elevator, released in August 2008, was the debut to the range of Deborah Watling's Victoria Waterfield, who had traveled with the Second Doctor between The Evil of the Daleks and Fury from the Deep.

Written by Jonathan Morris, it's a story that has all the hallmarks of Classic Who's fifth season. Those who know the Troughton era on TV will recognize many of the tropes at play. A big futuristic concept, a control room duplicated in two different locations, skulking about in ventilator shafts, a disembodied menace, and even copious amounts of foam come into play. Morris likewise throws in a “Would ye look at the size of that thing, Doctor!” for added authenticity. Listening to the story, it feels as though Morris has taken an entire era's worth of stories and mixed them, trying to create the ultimate pastiche.

As mentioned at the top of this review, this was the first Big Finish audio to feature Deborah Watling reprising her role as Victoria, the first time she had played the part since the Downtime spin-off video in the mid-1990s. As a role and actress both underserved on-screen, the Companion Chronicles should have been the ideal place for the sort of reexamination given to the likes of Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom and Caroline John as Liz Shaw. On the surface, Morris offers that up here in spades, giving Watling some excellent moments such as her casting her gaze over an ever-shrinking Earth as the elevator ascends into space or how the Doctor's smile reminds Victoria of her father. All of which is nice, adding some much need depth to the character.

Yet, The Great Space Elevator feels oddly lacking. Perhaps that is partly down to Morris' script, which, in the process of pastiching so much of the middle Troughton era, ends up feeling a touch bland, with familiarity breeding contempt, to quote an old saying. It could also be down to Watling's reading, which comes across as rather flat and unemotional. True, there's plenty there when she's being Victoria, and she offers up a faint Scots accent for Jamie, but it becomes hard to discern who is who at times due to her delivery. Even the ever-reliable Helen Goldwyn, playing the role of security chief Tara, appears so sparingly that you might forget there's a second voice in this story. Rather than ascending like its titular subject matter, the story seems to hover a little ways off the ground, never quite reaching its destination fully.

While not the most stellar of Companion Chronicles, for a variety of reasons, The Great Space Elevator isn't without reasons to listen to it. Morris creates a pleasant (if overloaded) pastiche of the Second Doctor era, and it is one of the small handful of Big Finish stories featuring Watling reprising her role of Victoria. For fans of this era on TV, or of the Companion Chronicles as a range, you could do a lot worse than give this a listen.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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