The Cannibalists (2009)

Due to the strong stories that there have been during this series of adventures for the Eighth Doctor and Lucie it was only a matter of time before their was a weak story. On a star city there are two tribes of robots where one is good and the other obviously is bad and that’s why they are called Cannibalists. Written by Jonathan Morris this is his second contribution of the series and is perhaps his weakest effort. When I say weak don’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad story but when I finished listening to it I did have an empty feeling.

Essentially this story sees the Doctor and Lucie arrive on a star city which is supposed to be full of live but all it has are robots. There are the Assemblers and the Cannibalists. Due to the fact that humans are a bit late in showing the programming has forced some of the robots to go on a killing spree. When the Doctor and Lucie arrive they head towards the lower levels except that is where the Cannibalists live and following on from the opening scene that isn’t where you want to be. When the Doctor encounters the Assemblers he realises what he has to do and that is to just hit the reset switch because as we learn due to the excessive time that had lapsed the robots has basically broke their programming and it needs the reboot to get things back to where they were. The story essentially rested on the Doctor and co’s search for the mythical reset switch which isn’t such a bad thing. I generally thought that this story is perhaps the most difficult of the stories that have been produced for this range. It was definitely a brave attempt on the part of Morris but ultimately it fell slightly short of the mark. I am a fan of Morris but this wasn’t his best effort.

This wasn’t the best story that Paul McGann has been in. It wasn’t that McGann was bad but it was due to the fact that he has had some cracking stories in this series that it wouldn’t take much to have a poorer story. I normally have praise for the relationship between the Eighth Doctor and Lucie however it didn’t really shine in this story apart from the beginning. I suppose it may have been because it didn’t really serve much of a purpose in this story. Sheridan Smith did have a good time in this story which shows what a good companion she is. I think that being away from the Doctor isn’t necessarily a good thing for Lucie because she bonds so well in this story. However she did well without the Doctor and showed that she is a strong companion that can work well on her own.

There were some big names in this story. One being Phill Jupitus. Phill Jupitus was good as Servo. Jupitus is best known for starring on the BBC2 Music Quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks and like he is in that show in The Cannibalists he was equally enjoyable.The character of Servo was designed to be a likeable and helpful character and in this story it was the idea that he had a thing for poetry but was really bad made him seem more human than robot. I had the feeling that something bad was going to happen to Servo because he is someone that we like even though he is the same kind as Titus. Another big name was Phil Davies has starred in many BBC drama’s including more recently The Curse of Steptoe, Ashes to Ashes & Lark Rise to Candleford. But he perhaps is more known to Doctor Who fans as starring in The Fires of Pompeii as Lucius. In this story he played Titus and the thing about Titus was that he was the leader of the cannibalists so became the main bad guy. Perhaps one of the other main guest characters that I thought played an important part was Minerva who was played by Charlotte Fields. The character is another in a long line of computer voices. It seems to be a staple part of any spaceship or space city however unlike most of them Minerva actually helped the Doctor instead of trying to kill him. I quite like the Crusher as played by Teddy Kempner who also provided the voice of Macrinus.

Others actors in this story also performed well and their characters served a purpose due to the group that they are in. Nigel Lambert performed two roles including Diode and Domitian. For info-freaks he does the voice of Papa in the Dolmio adverts. Oliver Senton performed well as Probus & Ripper and Beth Chalmers had a brief but nice role as the elevator voice.

There were something’s that I didn’t like about this story. The first being is that the opening scene with the Cannibalists ripping another droid to shreds and taking all his parts. I thought that it was quite uncomfortable and thought that it went on way too long. It seems to be a habit of Big Finish’s to have gruesome seems either over exaggerated or extended. I find unnecessary and think that it detracts from the main plot. I also thought that it did take quite a long time to get this story going, the voices also made it slightly hard to listen to and thought that they probably over-treated the actors’ voices in post production. Having said that as the story got going I didn’t find the voices too much and it didn’t stop my enjoyment.

Jonathan Morris’s second contribution to the series is perhaps his weakest one. I think maybe that it is because it seems like a rushed job and because he put in so much effort with Hothouse that it resulted in The Cannibalists being perhaps weaker than it could have been. Had they released this story next year then it would have been a lot better. Jason Haigh-Ellery is in the directors chair and I think he did an ok job. I think that with a complicated story he did the best he could but I still rate him as a good director and hopes he does more stories in the future.

Overall I think that this story is perhaps not the best story of the series and it largely suffers due to the fact that it needs more time to add more of a threat to proceedings. All the actors performed well and did well with a different script. An OK story that isn’t particularly the greatest in this third series.


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