Philip Hinchcliffe The Genesis Chamber review

philip-hinchcliffe-the-genesis-chamberWith a full title of Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Volume 02: The Genesis Chamber, this is another three-disc outing for the Fourth Doctor and Leela. Adapted by Marc Platt, it’s a mix of drama, romance and the odd moment of horror. If you haven’t heard it, I recommend it. Why? Let’s find out…

The story

First the Big Finish product page synopsis:

The TARDIS has landed on a human colony world. In the city, where the inhabitants rely on advanced technology to create their children, a marriage is due to take place. But not everyone supports it, and a crash might just prevent it for good.

In the commune outside live the savages, shunned and detested by the city folk. But they have recently been visited by a man, charismatic and handsome, who may yet be their saviour – or their doom.

Two different sides, ready for conflict. But neither realises that a third force threatens their very existence…

So, with the most familiar of setups, the writer(s) have created a rich world where everyone has a backstory, a motivation and a personality. There are several deceptions and at first the listener might struggle to pin down where the story is happening. Of course the Doctor and Leela arrive and get wrapped up in the inevitable cultural tipping point. By getting involved with a range of parties and having no preconceptions they act as our guides into the colony and everyone else involved.

The third party of the synopsis arrives in good order and their claim on the planet is an interesting one; their modus operandi is all too familiar and they quickly become the enemies of the piece. There are several deaths, family secrets, betrayals and potentially deadly technology at play. Even the colony AI has its own ideas and the Doctor struggles at times to cajole it forward.

[pullquote]a satisfying slice of Doctor Who goodness[/pullquote]When the story reaches its conclusion it closes threads down but in doing so leaves most (but not all) of the participants changed by their experiences. It’s a great, satisfying, three-disc slice of Doctor Who goodness and is to be commended as such.

The storytelling

Three discs allows for a lot of story, and in the main Hinchcliffe and Platt have allowed themselves to bring texture to the tale without self-indulgence. For me there were a lot plates spinning at one stage (colony politics, something about class, the more nature loving so-called savages and the aliens (and they had their own tensions). It makes the world seem more real, but I wonder could it have been thinned back a little? Maybe not.

There are many stand-out moments, and for change I’ll do a list:

  • Tom Baker
  • Louise Jameson
  • Jon Culshaw
  • Elliot Chapman
  • Everyone else.

Tom Baker

Tom is in superb form as the Doctor, and has just the right amount of concern, compassion and disdain as and when needed. There is a good rhythm to his character in this story and his performance pulses throughout the tale

Louise Jameson

We all know Louise gets better and better as Leele but this time she reaches heights that can only be admired. There is a scene where she is horrified as she discovers an alien in the midst of the colony and the terror comes across vividly. Ken Bentley also deserves some credit here for his direction and helping Louise get this performance.

Jon Culshaw

At last, Jon Culshaw, man of many voices, alongside Tom Baker. As colony leader Jon nails the part, his relationships with children, daughter, wife, colleagues and rivals are all played out with utter conviction. He brings a lot to this production.

Elliot Chapman

Regular visitors will know I am a bit fan of Elliot’s work as Ben Jackson. Here he plays two new parts, both are well done and I hope this means we will get more of him in future.

Everyone else

It really does seem churlish to have selected so few parts when there is no bad performance in the set. From Jemma Churchill through to Dan Li, and not forgetting Hannah Genesius or Gyuri Sarossy they all help build a great story. Well done, each and every one.

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