Monsters in Metropolis

Posted in Audio by - November 28, 2021
Monsters in Metropolis

Released November 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The relative brevity of the Ninth Doctor’s televised tenure means that there is still a tremendous opportunity to not only tell further stories and further develop the character but to also complete the traditional checklist that it feels like every incarnation should experience. Like Big Finish allowed the Third and Eighth Doctors before him, the Ninth Doctor finally gets his chance to confront the Cybermen in John Dorney’s ‘Monsters in Metropolis’ as he discovers history taking an unexpected course with a ‘Machine Man’ and a vision for the future that are far more terrifying than director Fritz Lang intended.

Metropolis, of course, is a seminal science fiction film and a triumph of its era, and whereas previous attempts at humanizing the very personal plight of the Cyberman conversion process as in ‘The Silver Turk’ and ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’ redefined the inspiration between a famed historical piece of fiction, ‘Monsters in Metropolis’ sees the Doctor join the adventure with filming for the film already underway. Thus, while the allegorical heart that is so important to the film is not the result of this drama itself, that theme is all too prevalent as events unfold in this Berlin that is just overcoming World War I and beginning its unfortunate path to its crucial role in World War II. Indeed, Dorney does well to incorporate enough of the region’s experiences and thought processes here to make what are ultimately very human motivations understandable if understandably not defendable. This, in turn, allows the Doctor to poignantly tell Anna Dreyfus to leave the region as soon as she can because of her name, not explicitly detailing what is to come but in the process highlighting again the smaller acts that the Doctor can take within established events to affect a personal change as he did with the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic.

Amidst the backdrop of a busy film set replete with rewrites and narcissism, the lone Cyberman on display is naturally more than just a simple upgrade for the ‘Machine Man’ that would become so renowned, and the story that unfolds about its nature and the influences exerted on it is as captivating as it is emotional. The Doctor knows all too well what the nature of the Cybermen is and that evolution away from that ideal is all but impossible. While this creature of course provides the perfect foil for this Doctor who has lost so much as lethal danger mounts around him once more, it also provides the Doctor a surprising opportunity to offer a second chance and to connect over shared experiences, elements that the tougher exterior of this incarnation often keep shrouded despite the good intentions that always drive him. The ultimate evil may not be what the Doctor initially anticipates, but the duality of the human condition on display is brilliantly written, and Nicholas Briggs in particular gives an immense performance as a strained individual whose conflicted tones only become more resonant as time progresses before culminating in a brilliantly understated scene during which the Doctor is able to show this individual Cyberman a complete cut of the film as he knows it should be.

Whether as a destructive force bent on conversion or as an exploration of individual turmoil at the expense of others, the Cybermen are the perfect vehicle for emotional drama. In many ways ‘Monsters in Metropolis’ is the exact opposite of ‘Dalek’ when the Doctor again confronted a lone member of an enemy species who acted against type, and that dichotomy only further solidifies the heart of this incarnation in a time and place when heart was becoming less of a known commodity. Eccleston and Briggs are the undisputed highlights of this release together and apart, and Nick Wilton, Helen Goldwyn, Peter Bankolé, and Raj Ghatak help to flesh out this world and this set under the direction of Barnaby Edwards to deliver what is easily the highlight of The Ninth Doctor Adventures to date.

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2 Comments on "Monsters in Metropolis"

  • Etienne Greeff

    Hey, not a comment on this in particular but just wanted to say thanks for posting these, I read through them often before I purchase stuff and its fascinating hearing your thoughts regardless. There’s so much effort done to do all of these and I appreciate it a lot. Keep it up?

    • Kyle

      Thanks for the comment and support. It’s a lot of work with everything else going on, but it’s nothing compared to everyone involved in the productions themselves. It’s a great franchise that has so many strong messages within, and hopefully it continues to provide enjoyable stories that the general public can continue to connect with going forward.

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