Babblesphere

Posted in Audio by - December 23, 2017
Babblesphere

Released April 2013

The Fourth Doctor and the second incarnation of Romana come into focus as the loosely interlinked tales of Destiny of the Doctor continue, bringing the dynamic duo to the volcanic world of Hephastos where the colony of authors, poets, composers, and painters have taken artistic collaboration a step too far in the pursuit of creating the greatest works ever seen. Enslaved to the Babble network in which every thought is now shared no matter its triviality or importance and in which privacy is a crime, the colonists have let their magnificent world succumb to decay and are mysteriously being killed by a malevolent intelligence hiding outside of public consciousness.

Led by the representation of the Fourth Doctor who turns from frivolity to deadly earnestness is a second upon discovering a dead body, the dialogue and tone of ‘Babblesphere’ perfectly encompass everything that makes this era so beloved, especially with the dynamically witty and respectful relationship between the two equally-intelligent leads. With the Doctor tied up and very much in the background for a good portion of the story, Romana deftly and proactively explores the burgeoning rebel cause on Hephastos and helps to uncover the sinister plot being hidden from even the connected minds within Babble. Lalla Ward understandably may not be able to capture the power of Tom Baker’s voice, but the energy she instills into his dialogue is incredible and works wonderfully alongside her own magnificent recreation of Romana.

The metaphor to social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, is an obvious underlying thread throughout ‘Babblesphere,’ and the warnings of the sacrifices knowingly or unknowingly entailed in partaking in this constant flow of personal information is certainly something that will continue to gain importance as communication and sharing continues to become ever more convenient and expansive. The intent of the Babble network- as is the case with most technology- was honourable and allowed democracy to work on an unprecedented level as open and unfettered discourse allowed a consensus to be reached on every major decision, but the human need to shield more private and personal thoughts and the suspicious reactions that guarding thouse thoughts brings out in the public forum naturally led to conflict and the more rigorous role the network now plays. That the rebels are a group of old women who gossiped too much and wore out their implants is a stunningly whimsical visual that also fits perfectly in line with this era and contrasts well with the more traditional danger that the moderator and the computer killing the people it was built to serve poses. With the floodgates opened and the vast majority being said inane prattle, it’s no wonder that the content of these undisciplined minds has proven so difficult to moderate, and the useless string of Doctor Who information that the Doctor and Romana input to tip the balance is a nice meta moment that works extremely well as a resolution.

With its comical but biting look at the dangers of social networking and its clever dialogue and tone, ‘Babblesphere’ is the strongest entry in this range yet even if the Eleventh Doctor cameo doesn’t seem quite as momentous as in earlier tales. Blending modern with traditional, the intelligence and dynamic wit on display truly makes this a lost Fourth Doctor story and proves to be a testament to writer Jonathan Morris’s grasp on the era.

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