Saturday, October 12, 2013

Shadow of the Scourge: Parts 1 and 2

This one has some of my favorite things: Science, cross-stitching, Ace being snarky but not nasty, and making fun of New Agers. It also has some of my least favorite things: Mistaking pentagrams for a symbol of evil, the Doctor playing a transparent game, and demons. I guess you can't win them all.

I am enjoying Benny's voice actress. She plays Benny exactly as I think she should be played, and she works so well with Aldred and McCoy. The ongoing chemistry between the old series pair easily widens out to include her.

The plot so far: Evil aliens from another dimension are invading Earth, of course. Their location of choice? A hotel in Kent with three conventions going on: A time experiment seminar where a guy is trying to interest backers in his machine, a bunch of New Agers attempting to channel the Rigellian Enlightened Being Ulm, and a cross-stitch convention. What could possibly go wrong? It sounds like a perfect place to invade! (I mean, I would invade it. (Did I mention I cross-stitch?)

As it turns out, it is. And the plot thickens when it appears that the Doctor has sold invasion rights to the Earth, which he has claimed as his after the number of times he's saved it. To me, this is the weakest part of anything in the first two episodes: the Doctor's motives are transparent. The second weakest is the contract discussion. If the clauses discussed don't turn out to have relevance later on, I'll eat my hat.

Now the strong points: The plot is unfolding logically and it doesn't bog down. Again, the chemistry is fantastic. Benny is acting exactly as I would expect her to, occasionally putting her foot in her mouth and then using that as a springboard for more investigation. At one point, the Doctor asks "Isn't it obvious?" and a whole room choruses "No!" at once. I loved that. Maybe it was a cheap laugh, but it was so very well-done.

I'm going to hold off on more plot discussion for now. I'd like instead to talk about Ace's portrayal. She's apparently come to a kind of peace with the Doctor again. She's obviously got combat background, but the younger-Ace sass is present as well. It makes me wonder if I'd like Ace better as the cold, hard soldier if Sophie Aldred read some of the lines. Then again, these lines aren't so hard to hear from her as some from, say, Lucifer Rising would be.

So far, I've enjoyed listening. The voice acting is distinctive enough I have no issues telling the characters apart. The foley work is excellent, and the cast seems to be having a good time. I hope parts 3 and 4 live up to the first parts.