Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Etheria

Oddball. Now there is a word. Oddball – What is an Oddball story? To my mind it encompasses everything that isn’t normal in Doctor Who storytelling, be it The Web Planet, The Celestial Toymaker, The Macra Terror, Kinda, Paradise Towers, The Happiness Patrol or Big Finish’s own pantheon of oddities like Creatures of Beauty, and The Pirates, Brotherhood of the Daleks or The Fourth Wall to name a few.
These left field stories in a way define what traditional Who stories are by being themselves not traditional (if you see what I mean). As always I digress – and my pomposity levels are rising! – and in my usual roundabout way I come to this months Short Trips release – Etheria.
This one most definitely falls in to the Oddball category.  It’s a tale of the First Doctor, Vicki and Steven, told by Peter Purves (Steven Taylor) the story concerns The Doctor and Vicki (having lost Steven in an ambush by Pirates) traversing the strange “Etherlands” of the world they find themselves on, a strange world where the Ether alters the perception, where they have to tether themselves to the ground at night for fear of wandering off possessed by the Ether – and where their guide may or may not know the way through the increasingly treacherous environment.
Peter Purves gives a great rendition of Hartnell, you can just see him standing there all imperious, clutching his lapels as events unfold around him. It really is an oddball story and relies on the fact that not only could the narrator be unreliable but also what the characters perceive is unreliable too. It’s a very clever piece of writing that really uses the audio format to its advantage. Long time listeners of the Big Finish Main Range will understand what I mean when I say it reminds me of Scherzo. The story may not be atypically Hartnell, but it is very much in keeping with the off the wall oddities that Doctor Who sometimes throws up. I perceive that this one will go down well with the more out-there fans. 8/10.