Unregenerate!

Posted in Audio by - April 27, 2016
Unregenerate!

Released June 2005

The loss of one’s sanity is a terrifying concept to consider, and it’s only natural that Doctor Who would at some point find itself in an insane asylum where experiments are being performed upon the patients. ‘Unregenerate!’ has some interesting ideas behind it that play nicely into the overall mythology of the programme, but the end result is a messy, overly complicated script that manages to lose its way in offering any substantial drama.

Instead of exploring those intriguing ideas in detail, te majority of ‘Unregenerate!’ is presented as a mystery with the characters trying to figure out what is happening around them. This is itself is not a bad choice, but the decision to include the Time Lords and to further complicate the Doctor’s relationship with them as they continue their almost xenophobic ways surprisingly detracts from the overall proceedings. Still, the planting of the minds or consciences of TARDISes within people’s heads as a means of keeping tabs on time travelers is a fascinating concept, if again a bit more bombastic and complicated than need be.

The fake asylum on Earth, the Doctor facing amnesia and a crisis of identity, and a great double act with Mel and taxi driver are all strong elements to this story, but none of these receive adequate time to truly shine, giving somewhat of a disjointed feel to the plot as the viewpoints continue to shift. The Seventh Doctor in crisis is nice change of pace given how scheming and forward-thinking he is normally written, but his incoherence continues for far too long before he starts to regain some semblance of himself. McCoy does well with this new take on his character at the very least, though in some instances he still seems to be channeling his normal portrayal despite playing a fool. Bonnie Langford as Mel is a definite highlight, however, and the spate of recent releases with her in it have truly heightened her character. She and Toby Longworth, her befriended gentle taxi driver who seems amazingly adept at handling otherworldy situations, share an easy chemistry together and do well in serving as a mirror and an entry point for the listening audience.

Sadly, however, the acting on the part of the Gallifreyans generally seems off, Jennie Linden’s Klyst being the only saving grace as she is able to exude a sense of worldly wisdom despite her grievances. Gail Clayton plays the aggressively xenophobic Celestial Intervention Agency member Rigan much too softly, and Jamie Sandford unfortunately fails to give off the air of wisdom and experience that would be expected of a Time Lord scientist.

The first episode does a great job creating a haunting and mysterious environment, but later on the story steps away from its imagery and atmosphere to focus on dialogue instead. This effectively moves the plot along, but it does also minimize the scope of events that the story is aiming for from the start. In the end, despite the very alluring title and cover, ‘Unregenerate!’ fails to deliver on its intriguing premise, disjointedly telling its tale rather than conhesively showing it.

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