Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Doctor Who finally does a story about Area 51, and gets away with it.

There are two things that I have come to expect of Phil Ford's Doctor Who scripts:

1. A reasonable story, about an original subject.

2. A few conspicuous mistakes.

On the whole, I find that observation one doesn't usually manage to eclipse observation two, however for me, this story didn't even have a point two.

I will admit to being confused by the many different factions in this - two human and three alien - but I came out of it confident that the story had worked, even though I had not fully understood it. That's quite an achievement given the number of problems that I have had with this series in the past.

The main characters play their parts well, Murray Gold's Thunderbirds-ish music hides well in a cartoon, and the story itself is a good old-fashioned runaround, as the underdog Doctor figures-out the mystery. The action sequences work well too, and some of the artwork looks great.

Even the token zombies are okay, outweighed as they are by so many other good elements. Let's hope we see some more of these robots again sometime.

What is conspicuous by its absence is any motion-capture work. As a result, none of the animatics move with any conviction, not even when the script merely calls for them to simply walk. Again with the Thunderbirds style.

The Doctor manages to outrun bullets quite a lot, and his sonic screwdriver seems to get considerately left on him when captured, but so what.

I do think it's a shame than an official spin-off like this wasn't smart enough to state precisely when it takes place for the Doctor. The last live-action episode (The Waters Of Mars) finished a bit differently to normal, so I can't help but wonder whether, in retrospect, this story will make more sense out of transmission-sequence. Still, we'll see.

The last Doctor Who cartoon - The Infinite Quest - didn't really do much for me, but as a series this one certainly has potential.

Set in a big sandpit with a few monsters, it might as well have been live-action.

Is that a compliment for doing Doctor Who well, or a criticism for not maximising on the opportunities afforded by the animated medium?

I guess it's a bit of both.


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