In 2011 a set of Lost Stories was released by Big Finish that introduced the character of Raine Creevy, a safe-cracker who joins the Seventh Doctor in the TARDIS and still travels with him by the time of UNIT: Dominion. Conceived in the 1980s, this trilogy gives Andrew Cartmel the chance to share with us a sense of how the show might have evolved. The CD extras also give a good insight into his creative process.
All that said, what are they about and what did I think of them. Be warned, spoilers and personal opinion follow…
Crime of the Century by Andrew Cartmel: this story introduces Raine Creevy played by Beth Chalmers (who was in the previous Thin Ice playing a character called Raina) daughter of Markus Creevy (also in Thin Ice). I read somewhere that this story was only an idea of one scene – safe cracker opens safe to find The Doctor inside. I felt the rest of the story had islands of good ideas but no coherence. There is an interesting alien introduced in the form of the Metatraxi and some good characters but I struggled with the capricious plotting.
This trilogy has very good extras and Andrew Cartmel is interesting to listen to. One of the points I didn’t like was deliberate in that a character was created as a swordsman who seemed destined to wield an artefact that The Doctor and Raine had recovered against the Metatraxi. Before this can happen the character is killed senselessly showing the mindlessness of war. All well and good but instead of letting Raine have the sword (she is also skilled) we end up with Ace letting the sword guide her as she defeats the Metatraxi.
I strongly felt that had there been another series of the show this episode would have needed immense editing to fit the budget and to engage the viewers.
Animal by Andrew Cartmel: this also started poorly for me and I found it a tale of two discs. Disc 1 had some Triffid derivative monsters in a greenhouse at Margrave University. Ace and Raine are students with fake identities set up to attract malcontents (who are planting bombs in the science lab). As UNIT also uses Margrave as a research centre this is all very important and gives us a chance to enjoy the return of Brigadier Bamberra.
Sadly the plot continues one-dimensionally. Within hours of arriving on campus both Ace and Raine are recruited without question by Scobie a genius eco-warrior straight out of every 1980s stereotype. All ends with Scobie under lock and key until disc 2 when another alien arrives in their enormous spaceship – the Numlocks (great name!) who are pacifist vegetarians with a dark secret.
Although it was all rather predictable I did find myself really enjoying the second discs an decided that overall Animal was very of the time it was planned for and fun to listen to. The Metatraxi also made an appearance.
As the story is set in Raine’s future there is a poignant moment where she uses the web to look up her father to find he has died. She decides to stay behind to take time to adjust.
Earth Aid by Andrew Cartmel and Ben Aaronovitch: this starts of with Ace in the role of starship captain of the Vancouveer and we are treated to a lot of Star Trek references (‘Engage!’, ‘Make it so!’). The ship is escorting a grain ship named the Lilliput taking aid to a planet names Safenesthome.
The Lilliput stops responding to calls and Ace leads an away team to find the ship has become a Marie Celeste apart from a Victor Espinosa who is superbly played by Paterson Joseph (Rodrick in Bad Wolf / Parting of the Ways and Greg Peston in Survivors).
Exploring The Doctor finds first Raine in a safe (nice symmetry) then some Metatraxi who are glued to the walls of the grain transporter modules. Meanwhile a warship has appeared and Ace revels the extent of her lack of starship skills eventually leading the crew of the Vancouver to mutiny!
Further exploring the grain The Doctor and Raine find slug creatures devouring the precious cargo; it is they who took the crew who are harmlessly glued to another wall.
We get space battles, mutiny, Ace the hero, the enemy ship is Metatraxi then betrayal by Victor. We end with Ace having to save The Doctor from death by taunting! Did I mention the planet was intelligent?
it all sounds a bit mad but I really liked this and found it the strongest of the three stories. We get closure between Metatraxi and the Slugs and also the taunting scene quickly moves from naff to brilliant when The Doctor is taunted with the way he treats companions as pets and exploits them.
What a great character and how wonderfully played by Beth Chalmers. Raine is good in UNIT: Dominion and good here. I also think Ace + Raine is a much better combination than Ace + Benny; the latter suffers from how dominant both characters are (not a reflection on Sophie or Lisa both of whom are very good).
I would happily listen to more of this crew.
An odd bag. Until part way through Animal I was despairing of these stories and wishing I’d invested elsewhere; by the end I enjoyed them and really liked the insight Andrew Cartmel provided in the extras.
What did you think?