Monday, 31 October 2016

217 - THE MEMORY BANK & OTHER STORIES

I may have regaled you with this tale of my youth in a previous review, but what the heck – I will tell it again. When I was about 10 years old they showed the “Late Night Horror Double Bill” on BBC2 – an old 1930’s/40’s or 50’s to begin with followed by a more modern 70’s offering – I was terrified to distraction by Theatre of Blood and still to this day cannot watch the film – I had to sleep with the light on and the door open for months. But as always I digress – the reason I refer back to my wasted youth is that I really used to enjoy the “Portmanteau” style films like Dr Terrors House of Horrors or From Beyond the Grave – a bit of a something for everyone mixed bag of short stories – and thats what we have in this months Main Range release from Big Finish – yes its one of the semi regular four short stories releases – this one called “The Memory Bank & Other Stories” four short stories thematically linked the theme being memory. But what is memory, is it reliable, can it be overwritten and are we made with certain “race memories” that shape us as people – all these questions are posed as The Fifth Doctor & Turlough attempt (unsuccessfully) to go on an art retreat……
The Memory Bank by Chris Chapman
The Doctor & Turlough arrive on a world where if you are forgotten than you cease to exist, where being remembered actually sustains the person that you are and as Turlough is given the job of being the archivist for the memory bank – the Doctor with his new friend (and barely remembered) Max (Suzann McLean) discover the horror of the situation, of what happens to people that are totally forgotten and the gap that they leave in the world. Short, snappy and to the point, this story sets the scene for the release it has intelligence, wit and warmth and a disturbing monster (who to be fair pronounces DOKK-TORRR fantastically)
The Last Fairy Tale by Paul Magrs
We all have childhood memories of Fairy Tales, wicked witches, evil dwarves, beautiful Princesses (you are probably all picturing your favourite Disney film right now) – but memories of Fairy Tales are part of what makes us and our culture, we are so used to the place that certain types of character has in a tale that we automatically think we know who is good and who is evil – but isn’t life more complex than that? The Doctor & Turlough arrive in the village of Vadhoc the denizens are expecting the appearance of the mythical “Storyteller” – surely it must be the Doctor? Surely we all know how these stories pan out? How wrong can we be? Because the tale about tho be told will change your perception forever. A great little tale that really does mess with the listener’s preconceptions and is laugh out loud funny in places with all the best lines given to the old wanderer Grayling Frimlish (Duncan Wisbey), but I must also praise Peter Davison & Mark Stricken for their comic timing – its funny, its intelligent & its challenging and may not end with a “Happily Ever After”
Repeat Offender by Eddie Robson
The shortest story on this release sees the Doctor & Turlough in Reykjavik in the future – overpopulated as refugees from warmer climates flee from global warming – the Doctor finds himself accused of a crime and the Police Officer that turns up Inspector Jill Sveinsbottir (Mandi Symonds) is not only arresting officer but also Judge and Jury (like an Icelandic Judge Dredd but slightly more reasonable). A mind bending time twisting tale involving edited memories and a brilliantly named villain the “Bratanian Shroud” this one will keep you on the edge of your seats.
The Becoming by Ian Potter
And so to the last tale, a tale of race memory, of evolution and of destiny. Reminiscent in many ways of the TV story Full Circle this concerns the various evolutionary states of a very alien species – the story has a dreamlike quality as the heroine named only “Waywalker” (Kae Alexander) tries to obtain a special fruit to take to a cave so that she can  “become” her destiny. A very surreal story to end the set, quite unlike any of the other stories in tone and very experimental and brave – it may not be to everyones taste and does need repeat listening but its a little gem.
Four bite sized morsels of Who and a pick’n’mix of styles and tones – each has something to offer depending on the mood of the listener and I do like the “portmanteau” style of story telling – the arc may be a little obscure but it is there for those who want to find it – for others just sit back, relax and enjoy a memorable four stories 7/10.