The Scapegoat

Posted in Audio by - September 24, 2017
The Scapegoat

Released July 2009

Following the brazenly experimental opener ‘Orbis,’ the third series of The Eighth Doctor Adventures has to this point been filled with stories using their running time to focus more fully on atmosphere than actual plot. With Pat Mills returning to the series as writer for the first time since ‘Dead London,’ that trend continues in ‘The Scapegoat’ as the Doctor and Lucie land in World War II Nazi-occupied Paris and stumble upon the Theatre de Baroque and Max Paul, The Most Assassinated Man in the World.

The central conceit behind ‘The Scapegoat’ is an incredibly strong and visual one, and one where the science of the quantic reanimator behind its reality is wisely anything but a focal point to instead allow the actual story of Max Paul and his people to take centre stage. Belonging to a race of beings who suffer from an innate and powerful bloodlust, Max has taken on the role of scapegoat in which he alone must bear the brunt of that fury over and over again as the device allows him to be killed and reanimated continuously. More impressively, Mills uses this character to provide a direct parallel for the Doctor himself, another being tasked with doing what needs to be done for his people who is likewise then chastised and punished for his actions. Though this commentary is all too brief, it certainly serves as a strong momentary anchor for the sometimes bizarre events.

Sheridan Smith puts in arguably her most impressively dynamic performance yet as ‘The Scapegoat’ tasks Lucie with experiencing a full range of emotions which Smith exudes expertly. At his point, it’s clear that she is the perfect complement to the Eighth Doctor, and Paul McGann gives another superb performance that ties together the serious and the absurd perfectly. In a script that demands heightened performances from its guest cast, Samantha Bond is exemplary as she allows a convincing threat to pervade the macabre comedy, and Paul Rhys is superb as the titular scapegoat who sadly accepts that he will always be the victim because that is his ordained role.

World War II is a very familiar setting for Doctor Who, but ‘The Scapegoat’ certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously within those confines, evidenced wonderfully as the TARDIS’s chameleon circuit kicks in and turns the vessel into a loud carousel that disappears as Lucie is riding upon it. The Gestapo, always on the hunt for new technology to help sway the tide of war in its favour, believes the TARDIS to be an experimental aircraft, and the dogged pursuit leads to a great moment of public embarrassment for the Reich on the very stage upon which Lucie earlier showed her improvisational theatrical prowess that belied her sheer horror stemming from Mother and Max. Indeed, as a whole ‘The Scapegoat’ is a marvellously twisted tale that uses its characters and black humour to full effect and accomplishes most everything that Mills was attempting to do with ‘Dead London.’ While the plot itself does remain somewhat light to follow the trend of its predecessors, the deft direction and sound design amplify the script and performances to create another enjoyable outing in this collection of tales.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *