Nevermore

Posted in Audio by - October 05, 2017
Nevermore

Released August 2010

With Tamsin Drew freshly aboard the TARDIS, The Eighth Doctor Adventures firmly ushers in a new era as a curious manifestation in the control room forces the TARDIS to land on the irradiated shores of the world Nevermore whose sole inhabitant is the imprisoned war criminal Morella Wendigo. Yet when Senior Prosecutor Uglosi simultaneously arrives with fears of an approaching assassin, his obsession with Edgar Allan Poe may threaten the existence of everyone present.

With Tamsin putting on a performance as Juliet in ‘Situation Vacant,’ ‘Nevermore’ presents the first true opportunity for the character to step into the spotlight and become something of a known quantity. Following Lucie Miller is, of course, an incredibly tall task, but Tamsin rather quickly seems at ease alongside the Doctor following her lengthy tour of the TARDIS interior and certainly proves that she is willing to stand up to him and give as good as she gets. Niky Wardley plays the shifting combination of excitement, fear, bravery, and recklessness of Tamsin naturally; though the lack of consistent characterization here is somewhat jarring as there is no indication of any lasting emotional impact after seeing a mangled man, nearly being poisoned to death, and believing she has been buried alive, Tamsin nonetheless proves herself to be an intriguing presence who should only continue to impress going forward.

Still, the Poe-derived imagery and setting are inspired and certainly hearken back in some respects to the stylings of Philip Hinchcliffe’s tenure as producer of Doctor Who. The history of Corinth Minor, a once-popular holiday destination covered in gemstones that became a favourite of General Verdeghast and thus became a perfect location for an assassination attempt against him using a bacteriological weapon, is superb; likewise the Time Lords’ role in using a cloud of super violet radiation to either kill or cure lends an even greater amount of weight, and the discovery of a temporal intervention while the truth behind Uglosi’s adopted Berenice slowly becomes known keeps the plot from ever becoming too straightforward. Though the script doesn’t explore the apparent evil side of Wendigo too much, Fenela Woolgar impressively imbues a quiet menace to the villainous character that allows a degree of well-roundedness to exert itself.

Unfortunately, the references to Poe’s great works are too heavy-handed and blunt to work completely effectively. Reciting entire stanzas of ‘The Raven,’ naming the plague the Red Death, and recreating the titular pit and the pendulum work on a perfunctory and introductory level as references to Poe’s works but hardly form the most nuanced and thought-provoking of stories based around those classics. Nonetheless, the story is absolutely drenched in atmosphere, and the sound design and score effectively bring out the apprehension and horror that the script itself doesn’t always play up as much as might be suggested. Still, the surprising truths behind the characters and the survivors of the Red Death are quite satisfying, and the continuing groundwork being put in place regarding a rogue Time Lord interfering remains a fascinating undercurrent that will hopefully continue to build momentum going forward. As a complete package, however, ‘Nevermore’ fails to fully exploit the works of Poe or to maintain a constant tone or characterization of Tamsin, creating an average outing that seems like more of a placeholder than the great homage it could have been.

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