The Invasion of E-Space

Posted in Audio by - April 14, 2019
The Invasion of E-Space

Released October 2010

Despite the unique setting of E-space and the ever-pervasive themes of entropy and decay surrounding the Fourth Doctor as he nears the end of his life, season eighteen of Doctor Who remains one of Big Finish’s less-explored eras of the classic run. Andrew Smith, writer of the televised serial ‘Full Circle,’ looks to rectify that oversight in ‘The Invasion of E-Space’ as the Doctor, Romana, and Adric search for a Charged Vacuum Emboitment to return to their normal universe, coming upon the warlike and plundering Farrian in the process.

Decades after Romana departed the Doctor’s company at the Gateway to remain in E-space, she hints at the successes and impediments that have accompanied her lengthy quest to help the Tharils liberate their kind across this universe. Sadly, while this is fertile ground ripe for exploring with genuine drama, hints are all that are offered as The Companion Chronicles remains true to its remit and instead shifts its focus to Romana’s time aboard the TARDIS. This is a season that often showcased some rather grand science fiction concepts and imagery, and in this respect ‘The Invasion of E-space’ fits in with its intended era quite well. The Doctor has been searching for a CVE that leaves no demonstrable trace in the normal three dimensions for months , but when one suddenly appears above a lush planet in all its violent glory, the scene is set for a monumental conflict, especially with the resulting natural phenomenon that ravage Ballustra’s surface. More dangerous yet, however, are the millions of armed spaceships around the CVE, Farrian raiders from N-space looking to plunder the rare element Genellium from E-space with senseless murder an all too acceptable means of achieving success.

Unfortunately, the invasion story itself is lacking in any complexity or subtlety, and the story acknowledges the incredibly straightforward nature of its plot by having the Doctor remain unconscious for the vast majority of its running time before then waking up and destroying the portal generator in no time at all. This further undermines the Farrian threat and lends a rather superfluous air to the entire story despite the obvious catastrophic toll incurred. Because each of the characters is written as a flat stereotype with little nuance and Adric is sadly all but forgettable here, there is very little to distinguish anything in ‘The Invasion from E-Space.’ This is all the more unfortunate because Adric also receives a decent deal of exploration here when Romana realises that she has not really given him a fair chance since he stowed away aboard the TARDIS, and the story of how he had to fend for himself following the deaths of his parents offers a hint at insightful characterisation that was often lacking for Adric on screen.

Lalla Ward once more offers a superb performance, but she simply isn’t given enough thoughtful material that she can single-handedly elevate this straightforward plot. The pervading sense of decay from this era is nowhere to be seen, and there’s very little genuine emotion at the core of this story to truly secure the listener’s interest, instead relying on grand gestures and violence to do so. As a result, ‘The Invasion of E-Space’ narratively can’t quite match some of the wonderful visuals of its setup and its central performance and ends up as nothing more than a purely functional storyline that meshes with the E-space era simply because of the characters present rather than anything more profound.

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