An Ordinary Life

The last story from the Early Adventures range for 2014 sees a story unlike anything that has come before it in this short range. This is the first story to feature Sara Kingdom for quite sometime and its also been a while that we have a story that takes place during The Daleks Master Plan story. I like the idea of this because its weird to think that during one of the biggest story in Doctor Who, they there is apparently time to have another adventure. This story takes place in the 1950’s and deals with a subject that is rarely dealt with in Doctor Who and that is people seeking a new life in Britain and dealing with racism.

The story does have a fairly pedestrian pace to it in the early stages. This is normally a problem for me but for some reason in this story I thought that this actually worked in the stories favour. The music and sound effects used by Toby Hrycek-Robinson do a fab job of creating a cold and bleak setting which works quite well. In fact the first episode went by so quickly I was surprised when the theme tune played and its rare that this happens. The Doctor is out of the action which harks back to the early days of the companion chronicles. He is not well but does manage to sneak past Steven and Sara back to the TARDIS and it disappears.

The second episode is where the title actually makes sense. An Ordinary Life is what Steven and Sara have to do. Steven is working and Sara is playing the housewife. There is a nice scene where Steven isn’t kind about Sara’s cooking and she basically says that if he doesn’t like it then he can cook it himself. There is a nice bit of the story given over to the friendship between these two. Knowing that Sara gets killed not to much further in the show so by the end it’s quite sad.

There is something weird about Michael from the moment he appears. This is sorted out in the second half of the story when there is an alien menace introduced into the story. The menace is a race that have been on Earth for hundreds of years and it used Michael to create a copy and this is why he was acting so strange.

I found the moment when Billy Flint reacted badly to the idea that Steven and Sara want to have a place without being married is quite funny by todays standards but by 1950’s standards its perfectly natural. I must admit that I did find some of the racism to be quite uncomfortable to listen to. It wasn’t the worst racism that could have been said but when something appears that isn’t usually seen or heard in Doctor Who then it does come as a bit of a shock to the system. References to banana boats and taking English peoples jobs and Flint telling Steven to stick with his own kind aren’t the normal things that I would expect in Doctor Who.

After the initial shock of this I found that things settled down but the bleakness that there seemed to be was still around. By the half way stage things started to become more like a traditional Doctor Who story and there is a plan to copy human beings and they become interested in the Doctor and his TARDIS. I would have liked there to be more of the first half because its perfectly normal for Doctor Who stories to not really have anything to do with alien invasions and deal with the idea of two people from earth that are from a different time adjusting to 1950’s Britain. That said I still think that what Matt Fitton has written is a very nice mixture of Doctor Who stuff and non-Doctor Who stuff.

Performance wise, I thought that Peter Purves and Jean Marsh were very good. It’s always good hearing Jean Marsh in a Doctor Who because some of my favourite Companion Chronicles have been ones that have features Sara Kingdom and seeing her deal with what going on in 1950’s Britain is fun to watch bearing in mind what she’s been through and about to go through. I don’t think that Peter Purves is able to give a dud performance and his William Hartnell impression is always fun to listen to. There is one voice that is very familiar and familiar to anyone who has ever seen the Channel 4 show Desmonds and its sequel Porkpie. Due to the fact that I recognised the voice I liked the character even more. His voice was one of the things that I liked about this story and I was really happy when he came back towards the end of the story. It would be amiss of me to not mention the performances of Damian Lynch as Michael, Sara Powell as Audrey and Stephen Critchlow as Billy Flint. I wasn’t able to appreciate Lynch until the end when we got to hear Michael as he normally is. Sara Powell also does a good job and makes the most of what isn’t one of the important roles in the story. Stephen Critchlow plays Billy Flint rather well and helps to make the first episode to be a really good one.

I really enjoyed this story. I thought that the whole thing worked really well and the running time was just right to allow some build up to the main part of the story. It’s not very often that Doctor Who does a story with the social topics that this story contains. So far the Early Adventures have done well in changing the format of the Companion Chronicles. The extended format and the increase in people involved means that there is time to tell the story and have a bit of variety in voices heard. I think that this is tied with Domain of the Voord in best story of the series.

 

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