Everywhere and Anywhere

Posted in Audio by - December 28, 2023
Everywhere and Anywhere

Released December 2023


Their relationship mostly repaired following the harrowing events of ‘Curiosity Shop’ and ‘Broken Hearts,’ the Eleventh Doctor and Valarie continue their journeys together in Everywhere and Anywhere.

Given this particular setting within the Doctor’s timeline, an extended period of time with no explicit reference to or progress with his search for Clara would become excessively notable for all the wrong reasons. While the festive ‘Spirt of the Season’ by Georgia Cook does not attempt to bring Jenna Coleman into these events, the framing device of a very young Clara bringing the travelers to a Victorian mansion in order to kill them is a frightening and exciting reminder of the Doctor’s personal journey and the unknown element and dangers it possesses. Yet for how much this story is billed as being lead actor Jacob Dudman’s own Christmas special, the Christmas component of the plot is relatively minor with only some presents and snow making brief appearances. Instead, the plot takes a far darker turn as the Doctor and Valarie as well as Edmund and Harpreet who have likewise been lifted from their own times and set in this mansion are forced to confront dark and emotional moments from their past. While the actual voice that Becky Wright chooses- the type often employed to portray young children- can sometimes be somewhat grating, there is no denying the chilling effect that her intonations have to make this plot all the more resonant. Unfortunately, the inclusion of two extra characters who don’t bring any sort of history with them does somewhat muddle the overall affair that excels most when focusing on Valarie who must now confront the mother she previously lost. Given how emotional that loss was previously, her mother’s appearance here almost breaks her while also offering her hope that she can change that fate, a fate that the Doctor heartbreakingly assures her is set even within this temporally unique setting. Safiyya Ingar gives one of her strongest performances to date as Valarie is given the opportunity to open up to the woman she never got to say goodbye to previously, and Mandi Symonds is wonderful as the mother who so dearly loves her child. Christmas and the end of the year offers a tremendous opportunity for reflection and growth, and the nefarious plot here to use human turmoil and misery as entertainment provides a perfect backdrop through which this internal exploration can occur. ‘Spirit of the Season’ is in equal parts optimistic, depressing, and unsettling, and though a more intense focus on the Doctor beyond a few mentions of past events and companions could have further elevated the overall affair, it’s another very strong character piece for Valarie and an engaging opener with great performances, sound, and music in support.

Max Kashevsky leans into the Steven Moffat stylings of the Eleventh Doctor era with a complex, temporally-intermingling plot in “All’s Fair.” Set at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the story gets off to a bombastic start when Valarie on a pleasant first date with Roanna comes face to face with a man claiming to be her husband. Knowing that even all of the pictures and information he has about the Doctor, Valarie, and Roanna may have been forged or illicitly attained as part of a trap, the travelers are reluctant to fully accept the potential truth offered to them here. Yet with abominations stalking the street as the search for a new source of power takes a deadly turn, it begins to appear all the more likely Hayden Lockwood’s past and Valarie Lockwood’s future truly are as intertwined as he suggests. What results is a beautifully scripted piece that hints at events yet to come while dynamically fleshing out Hayden whom Christopher Ragland portrays with such compassion, empathy, and fortitude. This provides a wonderful complement to Valarie’s own strength and conviction, and both Ingar and Mia Tomlinson combine to create a uniquely engaging trio despite the obvious conflict at its core. In modern Doctor Who, it has become common for companions to confront death directly or indirectly, and Valarie is forced to confront the prospect of her own here, a prospect that Valarie accepts with a grim resignation but that the Doctor refuses to accept in a bold admission of just how important his friends are to him. Valarie’s own refusal to allow the Doctor to hypothetically tear apart time and space for her is a tremendously powerful one that speaks to the mutual respect these two have formed for each other, and Dudman and Ingar both excel at bringing forth the immense emotions needed to carry such a momentous revelation. However, Valarie’s travels are by no means over, and her decision to follow her heart and what feels right is another bold testament to the strength of the character that sets out a strong trajectory for events going forward. “All’s Fair” does sometimes falter a little with bringing forth the imagery it wants to as it jumps between certain events and times, but few audio stories have so perfectly fit into the more complex narrative structures of this televised era, and it is sure to please fans of both mediums immensely.

Everywhere and Anywhere closes with Alfie Shaw’s ‘Sins of the Flesh’ and the surprising inclusion of the Cybus Cybermen as people on the perceived road to eternal damnation await their chance at rebirth. Of all of the Cybermen models featured through the history of Doctor Who, the Cybus version is arguably the one to feature the fewest human components in mannerisms or aesthetics, and their inclusion here is thus the perfect contrast to the very human elements on display and just what people- willingly or not- may sacrifice or force upon others to achieve their own ideals. Doctor Who as a franchise has never shied away from tackling tough or controversial topics, but the devout religious backdrop and the very explicit inclusion of conversion therapy make this an extremely topical and poignant story made all the more visceral by the very real emotions and seemingly genuine intentions of those who have welcomed such drastic changes into their lives under the guise of coming closer to their god and achieving perceived redemption and salvation. The Cybermen have rarely been ones to exercise subtlety or tact, but their willingness to move away from overt force to overwhelm and convert humans to a ploy that sees them stepping into a role that the population is all too eager to accept is chillingly effective given how easily even a Cyberman suit is accepted as part of the process to redeeming oneself through atonement. Of course, this process is aided by the Cybermen’s willingness to maintain a semblance of the humans within to assure and appease those around them, but this is unquestionably one of the most uniquely effective uses of this long-time foe. In turn, this presents a unique challenge for the Doctor and Valarie who both know implicitly what they are dealing with but who must find a way to break the illusion before the conversion process reaches its inevitable endpoint, the humanity and misguided beliefs on so many levels presenting unexpected hurdles as connections are forged and broken throughout. Still, foregoing any sort of analogy to tell a gritty and gripping story centred around conversion therapy and those being targeted for it provides an incredibly strong finale for this set that also deftly continues Valarie’s personal arc as it heads towards its own conclusion with Chicago again looming, giving both Dudman and Ingar plenty of opportunity to flex their dramatic muscles as the most horrific of circumstances unfolds before their characters.

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