Sunday, 28 February 2016

Prime Winner

Mistaken identity, dopplegangers, clones, duplicates, robot doubles – all staples of Doctor Who story telling for a very very long time. The Dalek’s robot Doctor in The Chase, the parallel universe in Inferno, Commander Maxil, The Android Invasion, Caecilius – even the Meta Crisis Doctor – the Whoniverse seems to be littered with people who look like our heroes for one plot reason or another. And this months Short Trips release uses the hook of a lookalike to draw us in to the story – but maybe not the lookalike that you were expecting.
Remember Peri’s first story Planet of Fire? Remember her Step Father Howard? Well he is the lookalike that drives the story. But I get ahead of myself. This story is VERY Sixth Doctor its setting is a giant casino in space and you can just imagine the awful gaudy 1980’s costumes and too bright lighting used to great effect as The Doctor & Peri play detective to find out what exactly is going on and why “Howard” is on board the casino & WHY is he winning so many “Prime Wins”?
Nicola Bryant is a fantastic actress – I tend to forget that she is not an American – I am so used to her playing Peri, but in this story she slips effortlessly from herself as narrator, to in character as Peri, to getting Colin Bakers’ bombastic intonations off to perfection, to imbuing all the minor characters with a sense of individuality. The writing is very visual – Nigel Fairs has completely evoked the feeling of a Saturday night in 1985 (If the hiatus hadn’t happened), in fact with the running time of 42 minutes this episode would have been a perfect one part story (if such things were done back then) the pacing is excellent, slightly longer than the usual Short Trips release but the extra 12 minutes or so are used to good effect fleshing out the rather complex but perfectly resolved plot. Yes its a mistaken identity story, and quite a small scale bit of villainy – but written and performed this well, this release can hold its head up high with the most epic of releases. A definite Prime Win and an odds on 9/10.