The Silurian Candidate

Posted in Audio by - September 17, 2017
The Silurian Candidate

Released September 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The Silurians are one of the more fascinating races in the Doctor Who universe, the original sentient rulers of Earth who have lost control of their dominion to the evolution of humanity because of a drastic miscalculation that led to a prolonged forced hibernation. For all of the foes that invade Earth and try to take it over for their own nefarious means, the Silurians present a unique philosophical argument as well as a fierce and driven intelligence for the Doctor, his companions, and all of mankind to take into account whenever a group awakens. In 2085, Earth finds itself on the precipice of nuclear annihilation as the rival Eastern and Western blocs threaten mutual assured destruction, but Professor Ruth Drexler believes that the fabled Parliament of the Silurians hidden deep within the Eastern bloc territory may provide an alternative to the impending doom becoming ever more imminent.

The title of ‘The Silurian Candidate’ quite explicitly states what the broader arc of this story entails, following in the footsteps of its namesake as political tensions begin to boil over in a futuristic Cold War setting where the two major factions find themselves provoked by an unknown third party with its own agenda. Fortunately, that tension translates to the audio medium well, that success in no small part due to the powerful guest performances from- among others- Nicholas Asbury as Chairman Falco, Louise Mai Newberry as Director Shen, Fiona Sheehan as Ruth Drexler, and Nicholas Briggs as Chordok, which together bring the multifaceted conflict to life wonderfully. As the warring blocs’ leaders attempt to stage a peace summit, the Silurians put their brainwashing plan in motion to bring about humanity’s armageddon to reclaim their world from the humans who usurped their world.

It’s fair to say that ‘Warriors of the Deep’ is hardly the most fondly-remembered serial of classic Doctor Who, but writer Matthew J Elliott has no qualms directly referencing those events in this sequel of sorts set one year later. This not only puts the Silurians’ plan into greater context, but it also sheds light on just how poorly the Silurians view the Doctor given how his previous encounters with them have ended, whether his fault or not. While the interpersonal drama that leads to the thwarting of the Silurian plan is written and performed very emotionally, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the ultimate result is yet another period of extended hibernation, which seems to be the unfortunate fate for these past reptilian denizens. Nonetheless, these events are highlighted by perfect writing for the three leads, and Sylvester McCoy excellently brings the more manipulative and ominous version of the Seventh Doctor to life as he enters this world of increasing paranoia. Bonnie Langlford’s Mel has certainly been the standout character of this year’s Seventh Doctor trilogy, and that trend of greatness continues here as she shows just how resourceful and virtuous she is no matter the situation, even under heightened pressure when separated from her companions. And though Ace isn’t quite as integral to the story as Mel, Sophie Aldred brings out Ace’s continuing distrust of the Doctor powerfully and begins to point out just how much the Doctor has changed since she has joined him, a nice nod to continuity that ties together these two companions’ individual times with the Doctor nicely.

‘The Silurian Candidate’ benefits from again treating the Silurians as intelligent beings with thought-out plans rather than as generic monsters of destruction, and this only further strengthens the many layers of storytelling on display here as the three-pronged conflict gradually comes into focus. As the Doctor tries to get everyone to see the bigger picture even if he doesn’t necessarily side with the humans, the ambitious story leaps off the page to the audio medium effortlessly with well-rounded characters thanks to immense writing and performances as well as Ken Bentley’s typically strong direction and Luke Pietnik’s evocative sound design. What had been an average trilogy for the Seventh Doctor before this release ends on an incredible high, and though the irresistible title does hint at what is to come, the end result is one of the most tightly-paced, atmospheric, and overall enjoyable McCoy stories in some time.

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