Must-See TV

Posted in Audio by - June 20, 2020
Must-See TV

Released June 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As the first set of Stranded reaches its second half in Lisa McMullin’s ‘Must-See TV,’ two new arrivals in Mr Bird and Sergeant Andy Davidson continue to shake up the Baker Street dynamic that has already endured so much since the Doctor, Liv, and Helen arrived. As the residents’ televisions begin to malfunction and the Doctor finds himself in the rare position of not being seen as the most useful individual to help, foul play with an extraterrestrial twist appears to have found its way into the Doctor’s stranded life.

Overall, ‘Must-See TV’ doesn’t quite reach the heights that the two preceding serials managed, possibly because the mystery surrounding the malfunctioning televisions is fairly typical fare and not nearly as interesting as the people and relationships on display within Baker Street. Of course, part of this is due solely to the length of this story as it leads into a concluding second half, and as a result Clive Wood’s Mr Bird is built to be incredibly suspicious right from the start. With little time to develop the character beyond filling a role that comes to the forefront at the cliffhanger ending, Wood gives a suitably strong performance but has certainly withheld some of Bird’s true potential while waiting for the tenants’ many growing doubts and reservations about Bird to prove correct. Still, the technology on display recording the people of Baker Street with transmissions that can be on a delay, absolutely concurrent, or even from the future is a fascinating premise that will likely prove essential to the eventual resolution of this mysterious scheme, and the visuals of the Doctor taking apart televisions without really knowing what he is doing as well as bins of discarded televisions outside are equally striking and perfectly befitting of this incarnation who is currently struggling to retain his sense of identity and so incredibly eager to latch onto a problem that provides a strange sense of normalcy for him.

Surprisingly, ‘Must-See TV’ also serves as something of an unexpected crossover between Doctor Who and Torchwood as Andy Davidson reveals that Torchwood has been watching this building for so long while waiting for the Doctor to return. However, the fact that the Eighth Doctor should never learn of the organization and the revelation that Tania Bell is apparently an operative who has been forwarding reports of the happenings she has witnessed and been told of while unknowingly being recorded herself both provide fascinating storylines to follow up on in future stories. Already, the furtive acquaintanceship between Andy and Tania has roused Liv’s suspicions, and although Tania’s feelings for Liv do seem genuine and mutually reciprocated, the secrets that Liv and Tania are both keeping from each other hint at just how much more this burgeoning relationship can continue to develop. Tania is probably correct when she tells the Doctor that Liv is more likely to hurt her than the other way around when the Doctor expresses both happiness and concern for his friend, but this is an incredibly interesting dynamic for Nicola Walker to explore for her usually so determined character given the softer range of emotions she is able to portray now and the inevitable revelations that await her.

Baker Street continues to come alive as a dynamic location with a strong soundscape as brief glimpses into the lives of its tenants are offered and happiness, sadness, and fears are all shown. While the necessity of forcing in a science fiction element proves to be the weakest element of the story, the groundwork in place still holds plenty of potential for the conclusion to capitalize on as interpersonal relationships and watching eyes that the Doctor cannot know about intersect with the watching eyes he is so determined to find.

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