Immortal Beloved (2007)

The fourth episode of this first series featuring Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith sees a curious story written by Jonathan Clements. This story sees the historical elements of Ancient Greece and the modern images such as helicopters. What we get in this story is a clear example as to why science can be a bad thing. After three strong stories the series needed to get into its stride and show that it doesn’t need to rely on Daleks to get a good story but what we get in this story is a different type of story.

Essentially what is going on is that a spaceship has crashed on a planet that isn’t earth but is in fact a long lost Earth Colony far in Lucie’s future which has been breeding clones of themselves for the sole purpose of transporting the brain of an old person and then placing it in this young and new body. It didn’t start out like this but when Zeus and his wife Hera and the rest of the colony started to live their life based on Greek Myth. In a classic attempt to try and keep their life going beyond its intended time. The remains of the original inhabitants of the colony have placed themselves in a God like position and force the clones to go through this horrible and deplorable process. There is a thrilling moment when Hera’s mind is transferred into Sararti but it doesn’t work and that leaves Sararti in control of her body and kills Zeus which frantically leaves Zeus having to transfer into another body. With Zeus dead it leaves the Doctor to convince Kalkin and Sararti to pretend to be Zeus and Hera. They reluctantly agree to do this and allow the Doctor and Lucie to leave. This was a clever end to it because it seemed that everyone would die and it was nice that the current inhabitants would be able to live their lives normally and not needed the mind transfer machine.

Paul McGann is on very good form in this story. He really puts in a great performance and in particular being appauled by Zeus’s use of the machine which transfer the brain for body to body. He does seem to take a bit of a back seat in this story but still manages to show why he is such a good Doctor. Sheridan Smith puts in another good performance as Lucie. Unlike other stories in this series we don’t get any real character development. She seems to spend most of the story fending of lustful Zeus and preparing to be tortured to be cloned time and time again. She does seem to take the lead out of her and McGann but shows what she can do. It feels like this relationship between McGann and Smith has firmly been set and shows signs of going from strength to strength.

Ian McNeice plays Zeus. McNeice has plays all sorts of characters. He plays Gerhard Klopfer in the 2001 HBO/BBC Movie Conspiracy and can also be seen in the ITV drama Doc Martin. The Zeus we have in this story isn’t quite the Zeus I learnt about as a child. We learn in the story is actually the pilot of the original colony ship and perhaps over time thinks of himself as a god being that he is the oldest inhabitant of the colony. He is superb playing this god like role and revels in what he is given to do. Anthony Spargo plays Kalkin who at first appears to be Zeus’s son but is in fact next clone. Spargo does a good job in rebelling and not accepting his fate. What I liked about Spargo was that he acted well alongside Lucie and the Doctor but it was with Zeus that he has some of his best moments and that is where he shines. Jake McGann plays Ganymede and also as you can tell he is Paul McGann’s son. The role of Ganymede isn’t the biggest in the story but does have a significant role towards the end. McGann does play the role well and clearly has inherited some of his dads acting talent. What is a shame about the character is how destined he seems to his fate. He will lose his personality and inhabit someone else’s and thus cease to exist. Elspet Grey is truly a delight in this story as Hera. Grey appeared in TV Who as Thalia in the 1983 story Arc of Infinity. She plays Hera with a nice sense of decency and works well with all the cast and becomes a likeable and reliable character.

With such a strong series of stories over the course of this series, this always had the look of a story that might be seen as a weak link in an otherwise strong chain. Jonathan Clements made his first contribution to the main Doctor Who range after writing scripts for the Unbound series and for the UNIT series. This isn’t a weak script from Clements as there are some interesting elements to it. The idea of continuing life in a different body could be argued to have been borrowed from The Trial of a Timelord: Mindwarp. Whether or not that is the case it is well used in this story and there are interesting characters. Jason Haigh-Ellery did a good job as director. Being the Managing Director of the company perhaps means he doesn’t have to try too hard to push to become director or writer or do any part of the story. He manages to keep the story going at a steady pace that never gets tiring or feels rushed at the end.

A good story throughout and whilst it would have been nice to have more of the Headhunter storyline in this story and perhaps they could have change the setting and use less of the Greek Myths. This is an ok story that is worth listening to but it isn’t the best by any stretch of the imagination. One to listen to if you in the mood to watch Jason and the Argonauts on DVD.

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