The Yes Men

Posted in Audio by - February 09, 2016
The Yes Men

Released September 2015

The Early Adventures returns with a new run of stories, this time with Patrick Troughton’s Doctor the focus, as Big Finish continues to successfully balance the spirit of the classic series while offering fresh and new perspectives.

The Doctor and his companions land on the Earth colony New Houston and find a civilization very reliant on its obedient and subservient robotic underclass. In a sense, this tale holds many similarities to the classic Fourth Doctor story ‘Robots of Death’ and ‘The Yes Men’ toys with the concept while asking the question of what would happen without an outsider’s programming to spur them into rebellion. Would they continue to mindlessly obey or would something altogether more intriguing occur? Of course, in Doctor Who nothing is as simple as it seems.

Simon Guerrier has crafted an engaging and political tale full of increasing paranoia set early in the Second Doctor’s personal timeline. Frazer Hines again pulls double duty as both Jamie and the Doctor, and it never ceases to amaze how convincingly he can channel Troughton. Anneke Wills aptly reprises her role as Polly, recapturing the finesse and spark that make her character so enjoyable, and also serves as an omniscient narrator to help set the different scenes. The big question going into this series is how Big Finish would handle the character of Ben given the unfortunate early passing of actor Michael Craze; amazingly, Elliot Chapman steps into the role and offers an almost pitch perfect performance as Ben, stylishly imitating every vocal nuance with conviction. Truly it sounds as though the original cast of four actors are all back in studio together, and that’s a testament to the quality of the voice actors as well as Big Finish who had to wrestle with the decision to recast in the first place.

While, tonally, ‘The Yes Men’ is not perfectly in line with a lot of early Troughton era offerings, the tale being told is certainly an enjoyable one. Wisely, the TARDIS crew is split into two, and both groups are given plenty of meaningful work to do. As Ben and Jamie are taken away and slowly become entwined in the robotic culture, they uncover the truth behind the afore-mentioned question, in the process revealing an interesting allegory for modern-day humanity. The Doctor and Polly, meanwhile, are tasked with figuring out what is really going on in New Houston following the death of his friend, Meg Carvossa, and just why the official records are so misleading and conflicting. A story of political rivals and increasing paranoia slowly unfurls, and though it takes some time to really get going, this storlyine eventually plays out with interesting and unexpected results. Neither storyline is overly fraught with peril, but the intrigue and deception filling both is immensely satisfying to experience, as are the main characters’ reactions.

The support cast is used perfectly here, and aesthetically this sounds like it comes right out of the 1960s. Director Lisa Bowerman keeps the action moving fairly briskly, and Guerrier’s visual script captures the TARDIS crew’s many personalities perfectly as well as the balance of humour and morose that the Troughton era exemplified. While ‘The Yes Men’ may not have the biggest stakes or ramifications for the Doctor in general, it certainly offers a rewarding and refreshing return to a little-explored era of the programme.

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