An Ideal World

Posted in Audio by - November 01, 2018
An Ideal World

Released October 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Continuing with this lost season of sorts featuring the First Doctor, Steven, and Vicki, the TARDIS arrives on a mysterious and cloudy planet just as a human spaceship with its crew traveling in cryosleep while looking for habitable world to settle on does as well in Ian Potter’s ‘An Ideal World.’ The hostile environment and rogue terraforming drones prove to be the least of the trio’s concerns, however, as the three quickly become separated and must survive the deadly hunger of something else far more sinister living here.

While colonisation and the extreme lengths gone to in order to ensure survival are unquestionably a focal point of this tale as the crew of the Ferdinand Magellan awakes, it’s the willingness to showcase the extremes of morality present within this crew and its intended focus that makes this a far more substantial tale. With this crew the only hope of survival for the separated leads who suddenly find themselves suffocating in an unfriendly atmosphere, the shades of grey presented as the crew rushes to stake their claim are all the more rewarding, and Carolyn Pickles as Captain Traherne and Angela McHale as Kay embody the passion of each argument perfectly as the planet’s dark secret is revealed and the Diaspora with its inherent personal horror becomes known.

There is little levity and humour through ‘An Ideal World’ as the seriousness of the threat considered alien despite its origins comes to be known, and Potter is never afraid to develop positive and negative aspects of his characters as the pace often slows down and discussions about what constitutes life as well as life’s sanctity come forth. This is from a time in the past of both Steven and Vicki, presenting another unique comparison point for actions taken stemming from the motives of different stages in history and unchanging base desire, mirrored well by the blending of more modern plot elements like the strange but terrifying threat and the reasoning for Steven not falling ill with the tried and trusted motifs of the First Doctor era.

Indeed, over the years Peter Purves has proven remarkably adept at capturing the irascible roguishness of the First Doctor, and it’s a shame that- even though remaining perfectly in line with the time off the actors received during the original run of serials- the Doctor spends so much of the time unconscious and thus out of the main narrative. Still, the Doctor’s idealism is proudly on display as he gruffly confronts those whose morality does not meet his own standards, and his kind-hearted relationship with Vicki in particular continues to form a wonderful emotional anchor. Both Purves and Maureen O’Brien excel as their young companions as well, bringing to the forefront just why the Doctor has so much trust in each and providing an immensely engaging and authentic experience that continues to develop this beloved era so remarkably well even if the leads themselves don’t get much personal development here.

‘An Ideal World’ is certainly a story that poses ethical conundrums and forces it listeners to consider each angle even while knowing what the proper course of action is. There are some genuine scares and compassion mixed in to what is purposefully a very bleak affair overall, but despite an intriguing premise and strong performances with the far from flawless crew of the colony ship gaining prominence, the somewhat open-ended resolution feels as though something altogether more impactful one way or another is missing. Still, overall this is another fine example of what this range can offer and how variable the format can be even while retaining the pure essence of a time long past as the voices and energy Purves and O’Brien continue to defy the passage of time.

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