Entering a completely alien universe with different natural
laws to our own, the Doctor and Charley find themselves blinded
by brightness. Without the refuge of the TARDIS, the pair
have only each other for company. Will their relationship
be able to stand the strain after all that has been said between
Robert Shearman has provided some of the strangest, but also
most entertaining, stories in the entire Big Finish Doctor
Who range. The Holy Terror gave us Frobisher and
a deadly child (we sort of get another of those here), The
Chimes of Midnight offered a creepy Christmas with
sinister servants, and in Jubilee we had a sympathetic
Dalek. But Scherzo is the writer's most curious tale
yet, a character-led piece featuring only the regular cast
of Paul McGann and India Fisher.
effect is somewhat like listening to a minimalist stage play,
which is hardly surprising given Shearman's playwright background.
There are only two "sets" as such: the TARDIS interior in
the early part of the opening episode and a disconcerting
white expanse during the remainder of the story. The whiteness
described by the characters brings to mind the similarly minimalist
first episode of the Patrick Troughton story The Mind Robber.
During its entire run, the television series produced just
one story starring only the regular TARDIS crew: the bizarre
two-part William Hartnell tale Inside the Spaceship
(better known as The Edge of Destruction). But that
was two episodes long and boasted four cast members. Scherzo
employs just two actors and lasts twice as long, and the story
does drag on a bit as a result. However, both McGann and Fisher
are excellent performers and shoulder the burden well, conveying
a quite surprising range of emotions as the characters' tensions
escalate, from fear and pain to anger and even mutual hostility.
tale also features a sound creature, which mimics the voices
of the Doctor and Charley, but we've heard from plenty of
audio foes in this series already.
I'm struggling to think of anything else to say about Scherzo,
apart from the fact that it's a good job the performers never
actually use the word. Pronounced "shirt so", it might have
come across sounding like some kind of product for washing
or repairing shirts!
is certainly a, um, memorable way to kick off McGann's
new season of adventures, but it's not really my cup of tea.
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