It’s all a bit fishy…

Big Finish Folly, Part 54 – Cryptobiosis, by Elliot Thorpe

The Doctor and Peri are passengers on a ship travelling from Madagascar to New Orleans, but there’s a storm on the horizon. Not only that – there’s trouble brewing aboard too, as crew members are murdered and a sinister plot is being hatched to take advantage of one particular wheelchair-bound passenger… It looks like the Doctor will have to move quick to avoid sleeping with the fishes…

Hmm. A bit of background information is needed here, I think. Cryptobiosis isn’t one of the main range releases; it’s actually one of the “subscriber bonus” stories that Big Finish release annually. As such it is only one hour long – which wouldn’t be a problem in itself if it didn’t feel like half of the story was missing. For the first five minutes I seriously thought I was listening to part two or part three of a regular series story, so disoriented was I by the sudden jump into the plot and the introduction without explanation of the characters.

When everything settles down – finally – there’s a decent battle between two completely different civilisations here, as well as the early 20th century focus on the contents of the freak show. That aspect is interesting enough but it suffers from comparison with the story with which it was originally bundled (Other Lives, which I’ll get to…eventually), in which freak shows are also handled. There’s plenty of scope for conflict and development in Cryptobiosis, but because of the play’s (lack of) length, there isn’t actually enough room for that to happen. (That’s not to say, by the way, that shorter plays can’t develop situations and characters perfectly well on their own – see the third chapter of Circular Time for proof of that)

So far then, that’s one rather good “feature-length” (two hour-long parts rather than four) story, and one less stellar tale. Next up – another “feature-length” story to round off this first mini-series of Sixth Doctor plays… and it’s a porker…
**¾

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stevenpoore

Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist.

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