So here we are in 2008, and following the fabulous introduction to Lucie through Series 1 (as discussed in Part 1: Welcome) I eventually move in to talk about the second series which I have dubbed Having Fun. I call it that from listening to a Big Finish podcast where Nick Briggs mentions a conscious decision to make this series unstructured compared to the first. I note that Lucie herself now features on many covers – a step up from the first series!
Despite the intention towards less structure, there are a few points to note: first is the running use of Katarina Olsson as an ensemble player in most stories except when playing the Headhunter; second the return of Auntie Pat and finally the grand finale giving us the return of Morbius!
The Story Arc
I have broken this down into the following stages:
- The start
- Having fun
- Auntie Pat
Bizarrely I don’t think this series has a start; listening to various podcasts / extras it is clear that they were debating starting with Brave New Town but ended up choosing an episode that dives straight in.
Brave New Town: a quirky story of a fragmented version of London with some tremendous characters and fun performances sprinkled with some great dialogue. This could have been a great episode but for me it fails once the reveal of the real plot happens the ending (and I checked this on a repeat listen) seems to merge fantasy and the real world in a way that doesn’t actually work.
Max Warp: Any doubts over quality were completely laid to rest by this episode which is, basically, Top Gear in space! This tale of spaceships, ferrets, murders and wars has a great set of reveals at the end as the mystery of who did (or didn’t) kill whom gets uncovered. This plus Graeme Garden (who would go on to become the Meddling Monk in Series 4) and James Fleet make this one of the all time great episodes. Did I mention it was fun as well?
Brave New Town: one of those stories that starts with a mystery (small, isolated town repeating the same day over and over but consciously) then a mid-story reveal but then a new twist to an old villain which really lifts this story up another level.
Stir in some crumbling Soviet state and oil interests and we have another great episode.
Skull of Sobek: written by Marc Platt (writer of any number of Big Finish audios and indeed of Lungbarrow) I have to call this as by far the weakest episode of the season. With dodgy crocodiles, priests and priestesses the only saving grace is the exquisite prose used to describe the alien world of Indigo 3. Even the idea of the Doctor and Lucie ending up on opposite sides of a conflict didn’t excite.
Grand Theft Cosmos: this now allows the return of the Headhunter who along with Karen (from Human Resources) is now found in 19th century Sweden stealing art that the Doctor also needs to steal! This with train rides and some burglary (to which the Doctor evidences a natural talent) I really like this story and to me it convinces me, somehow, that they are in Sweden. Mad I know!
I have since learned that this was recorded on two separate occasion with Paul and Sheridan not in the studio together. Nick Briggs read the other part both times.
The Zygon who fell to Earth Paul Magrs returns to tell us more about Auntie Pat (following on from the series 1 story Terror of Glam Rock) and we find here happily living with Trevor who is sadly pursued by Zygons (as he is also one!!!) one of whom is played by Tim Brooke-Taylor giving us two Goodies in one season! This story is vital as it links out to Death in Blackpool which will be pivotal for many reasons! We get some great acting from Sheridan both as a stressed Lucie and as a Zygon in Lucie form.
Sisters of the Flame and Vengeance of Morbius give us a grand return for the evil Morbius; we have Lucie and the Doctor separated; we have Time Lords; we have destruction on a galactic scale; we have a resolution that appears to end with the death of the Doctor. To top all this grand story telling we end with Lucie being shot in the heart by the Headhunter! Will there be a third series?
By any measure this was a great series and Lucie came into her own as a credible character and both she and the Doctor seem to have had fun. Even knowing as we do that he cannot die we still share Lucie’s pain in her belief that he has perished along with Morbius. Apart from one story which I didn’t like this was a strong collection and something Big Finish should be proud of.
Next up series 3!