Wild Animals

Posted in Audio by - June 19, 2020
Wild Animals

Released June 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Now stranded in modern London for several weeks, the Doctor and his companions are still trying to adjust to the nuances of everyday life in John Dorney’s ‘Wild Animals.’ Yet as the Doctor finds it more difficult to adapt than anticipated, a tragic crime proves just how truly limited he is in this environment.

While it’s perhaps not surprising that the Doctor is agitated and even forlorn at the prospect of having to spend the rest of his days in one location, the 600 years this incarnation previously spent on Orbis with no inclination of leaving does paint this sentiment in something of an odd light. Nonetheless, ‘Wild Animals’ continues to strip Doctor Who to its absolute minimum, and although it may not quite achieve its supposed purpose of serving as a modern historical with its look at everyday life, the lack of any science fiction element absolutely delivers a unique experience that allows for a very particular exploration of its leads that most stories cannot even attempt. Helen, of course, is the most at home in this time and place not too far removed from her own even if the technology still takes her by surprise, but it’s notable that even Liv is able to begin to relax and imagine making a life for herself here should they remain permanently stranded. While she is still just as fretful about the Doctor as always, there’s no denying that she has found a certain allure to settling down in one place that is seemingly so normal, and the cautious but friendly advances of Tania Bell provide a possible anchor that she has never really found outside of the TARDIS while traveling with the Doctor.

Indeed, Rebecca Root gives a truly dynamic performance here as Tania guardedly builds up to the question she has clearly been wanting to ask Liv for so long. With Liv accepting Tania’s invitation to dinner and easily accepting Tania for who she truly is upon a cautious admission, an incredibly important scene for the franchise easily unfolds that reaffirms the ideals it has always championed. However, just as ‘Wild Animals’ celebrates the unequivocal truth that people are simply people, it also highlights the darker side of humanity and the genuine danger that even a random convenience store can pose when a robbery goes horribly wrong and a close acquaintance loses his life while Liv is rushed to the hospital. Without all the answers for once but not wholly accepting that there are officials who may be more prepared to help in the investigation than he is, the Doctor’s exuberance at finding an injustice to throw himself at and frustration at being limited to the use of modern technology are equally on full display, and Paul McGann plays this range of emotions and wounded pride perfectly as Liv and Helen continue to worry for his own well-being as he struggles to remain the man he has always been with no grand conspiracies to uncover.

‘Wild Animals’ is certainly an abnormal release for Doctor Who, and even within this sixteen-story epic is sure to be something of an outlier in terms of plot given its celebration and exploration of both the good and bad of everyday life and nothing else. Still, it’s precisely within this context that the fascinating discussion about just how invulnerable the Doctor and his companions can feel given the sheer numbers of wonders and horrors they have experienced can take place, adding a further layer of nuance to these characters that should continue to pay off in future stories of Stranded. There’s no real hint at the grander arc that is sure to eventually form, but the continued development- and not always for the better in the Doctor’s case- of the leads is once more a highlight. With Tania Bell seemingly joining on a more permanent basis alongside Liv as the remainder of the Baker Street denizens continue to interact, this latest Earthbound series continues to highlight how variable Doctor Who can be and the potential that Stranded can achieve.

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