Girl, Deconstructed

Posted in Website by - August 13, 2021
Girl, Deconstructed

Released August 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The addition of Christopher Eccleston to Big Finish’s roster of featured performers to definitively give the beloved Ninth Doctor life once more is without question one of the biggest triumphs for the audio company that has had so many over the years. And although the story that the Ravagers re-introductory set offered was somewhat convoluted and padded in its delivery, it conclusively proved that the immense energy and charisma that Eccleston brought to his tortured and yet hopeful Doctor during his one season on screen could translate brilliantly to the audio medium. With Respond to All Calls, Big Finish takes a step away from an interlinked narrative to present three standalone tales to further highlight and expand upon this crucial incarnation who clearly has so very much left to offer.

Lisa McMullin opens this second series of The Ninth Doctor Adventures with ‘Girl, Deconstructed’ in which the Doctor joins forces with Missing Persons detective Jana Lee to solve the mystery of a missing girl that is farther-reaching than anyone could have imagined. Intriguingly, the mundanities of everyday life as well as the truth behind the science fiction element both provide fascinating windows through which to view this incarnation of the Doctor, in particular, and Eccleston once more excels in bringing out the continued hope and determination that only further accentuate this Doctor’s inner turmoil and guilt. He is far more involved than many previous incarnations would be in the smaller and more intimate moments with the deconstructed Marnie and with her father as the metaphorical barrier between parent and child becomes much more real, and even choosing to take part in a birthday party is a lighthearted yet welcome scene that showcases a continued growth empathy and of understanding of human nature that counterbalances his exceedingly alien nature and moments of obliviousness perfectly. The one misstep of this script is in not fully exploring the Doctor’s own reflections on Marnie’s thoughts about leaving home given his own early departure from Gallifrey to explore and now being the planet’s only survivor following the Time War. There is little question here that he understands the importance of family and emotional connections, but a sterling opportunity for character development is left relatively untouched and unspoken.

Still, the fleeting nature of the Serapheem who latch onto random fragments of thought and attempt to form connections to those whom they rescue on their journeys through space is an incredible parallel to the Doctor and the successes, failures, and unintended consequences he leaves in his ever-expanding wake. The Doctor is anything but infallible, and his need to get others to realize the best in themselves in order to achieve the best possible outcome is certainly a strong example of a motif that would become all the more prominent as his journeys continued. The Doctor always tries to hold himself to the highest standard, and although he realizes the limits of his own capabilities given how timelines and people could change, he puts a genuine effort into explaining what is occurring and why he is making any given decision in the whirlwind of mystery and intrigue that he so quickly reveals. The entire supporting cast deserves credit for creating such a vivid and emotional world in which the Doctor’s every thought can carry such weight, and while Mirren Mack and Forbes Masson are incredible as the affected familial duo, Pearl Appleby is a true standout as de facto companion DC Jana Lee. Her personal past and how she became the woman who strives to ensure nobody else experiences the loss she did is expertly written and realized, and although she doesn’t exactly receive the happy ending she hopes for and knows is possible, the integrity and determination of this detective are strong complements for the Doctor and allow both to bring out the best in each other.

The 2004 setting is a perfect precursor to the frequent stops on modern-day Earth the Ninth Doctor would make on screen in 2005, and the more humorous moments that interject the incredible emotion on display are a perfect fit for this Doctor and his era. A little bit of false drama at the end and a missed opportunity for profound characterization of the Doctor aside, ‘Girl, Deconstructed’ is a truly clever and memorable story that puts a unique spin on a familiar format and that emphasizes the very best of an early Ninth Doctor, everyday people, and what exactly the Doctor is able to inspire in those around him.

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