Trouble in Paradise

Posted in Audio by - December 26, 2017
Trouble in Paradise

Released June 2013

Destiny of the Doctor has done well to vary the incorporation of the Eleventh Doctor as he makes suggestions or requests to his former selves, but ‘Trouble in Paradise’ takes the much more direct approach of having him begin the story by sending his Sixth incarnation on a quest to capture the energy of an omniparadox, an exceedingly rare and potentially catastrophic collision of time. Arriving on a sailing ship in 1492, the Doctor and Peri find themselves surrounded by a crew gripped by superstition and a famous captain who just may prove that even heroes can act most unheroically when faced with the unknown.

The often contentious relationship between the Sixth Doctor and Peri was something of a problematic one as written on screen, the characters never really having a chance to find common ground with one another despite the obvious respect and even admiration underlying their bond that was so strengthened and muddled by the Fifth Doctor’s sacrificial regeneration. The mellowing and development of this TARDIS team has been one of the unqualified successes of Big Finish, and writer Nev Fountain manages to incorporate their bickering as a more jovial strength than any script that made it to television ever achieved. Indeed, when Peri seems to have fallen to her death, the Doctor drops all mock consternation and bravado and is genuinely concerned about his friend, firmly proving that he is the same compassionate man beneath all of his grandiloquent bluster in this form. Though he may move on from his despair to trying to save the universe at large a bit more quickly than his other selves, he is every bit as determined to fight for the little guy while keeping the bigger picture in focus. At the same time, Fountain writes Peri as a true American complete with local slang, and it makes perfect sense that Christopher Columbus would be a historical figure for her to meet, a figure she knows from school to be far more monstrous than most school history books suggest and one about whom she has developed very impassioned feelings of disdain that transcend her already-strong feelings about interfering in the past.

Fortunately, Fountain is not afraid to write Columbus more in line with his true personality, having him brashly and repeatedly proclaim that he is the greatest explorer in the world and unafraid of suggesting that he will kill natives if the colony he comes upon does not do as he commands. The script quite effectively suggests from Peri’s perspective that the Doctor only flits in and out of history, affording him a rather glamourous overview of events without having to fully plunge himself into the darker atrocities of the times and that his own personal heroes commit. This is a strong underlying current to the narrative that buoys the more peculiar tale of a mighty buffalo herd leader who long ago became trapped in ice and thus rendered the buffalo as a placid race. Becoming the form of the devil throughout the ages, the leader has traveled into the past with the intention of having the Europeans take the place of the Native Americans who originally drove his people to extinction. The leader has accordingly steered Columbus to discover America and doomed his own people to the far more dangerous timeline that currently exists, the action which created the entire paradox upon which the story is based.

‘Trouble in Paradise’ is unquestionably a story of two halves, the first a character drama examining the relationship between the Sixth Doctor and Peri with Columbus as a moral stimulus and the second a more plot-driven science fiction tale that is bursting with imagination but hampered by an overzealous performance from Cameron Stewart as the Herd Leader. Nonetheless, this is another enjoyable tale in the range that sees the Eleventh Doctor taking a more direct role in events, and Nicola Bryant easily carries the narrative from beginning to end with a staggering range of emotions on display.

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