The Corruptions

Posted in Audio by - September 01, 2023
The Corruptions

Released August 2023


The Doctor finds himself trapped in Pease Pottage Services, unable to cross the boundary of the nearby motorway that has strange, shadowy creatures drifting among the vehicles in ‘The Corruptions’ by Mark Wright. Meanwhile, Melanie is a well-liked member of the local community even if others don’t know much about her life or past, living happily and nearby to her friends Hebe and Elise and unaware that their lives might not be right.

After the momentum boost that ‘Girl in a Bubble’ represented for this Purity saga that has narratively and tonally been all over the place, ‘The Corruptions’ represents a significant step backward for plot progression. This arc has already seen Hebe erased from time and more recently has shown Hebe and Ron having no knowledge of the timeline they should reside within, and to now separate Mel, Hebe, and Elise from the Doctor while taking away their memories of anything outside of this manufactured Pease Pottage setting and life only further emphasizes just how much time this arc has spent avoiding any significant progression of the main narrative. At the very least this particular sidestep delves into the extremely complicated past that Mel has had, one that has created a relation with time that rivals that of Time Lords themselves; however, by choosing Mel’s past as the focal point of her plan to eliminate the threat the Doctor poses, Purity suffers another self-inflicted wound that allows the Doctor another opportunity to emerge victorious while also showing that she truly has no understanding of the forces she is working with and against, instead simply using instinct and whatever advantage comes her way to move forward. The Doctor spends far too much time here proclaiming that he is sure that goodness and empathy still exist within McBride who constantly refutes him by saying McBride is no more and only Purity exists, and the one-dimensional hatred driving this villain who presents nothing else remarkable except what has fallen into her lap through technology and family fortunes is far from captivating and practically eliminates any sort of depth to the plan or character.

Even with the shadows and corrupted versions of Mel representing the swirling of timelines, it seems like vestiges of different stories have been included to fill time until the trio of women can finally reach a point that allows them to remember the truth. Through building up this version of Pease Pottage, revealing the unanticipated results of centring a plan around Mel, and keeping the Doctor trapped, there is simply too much narrative fragmentation and underdeveloped false starts to truly allow these events to resonate as much as they should. The performances are all uniformly strong, but with Bonnie Langford, Ruth Madeley, and Cherylee Houston playing muted and confined versions of their characters for a substantial portion of the running time while Imogen Stubbs does her best to make the utterly single-minded Purity engaging, there is little throughout this story that advances either character exploration or plot development as a whole. Aided by strong sound design throughout as well as solid supporting performances, Colin Baker is at the very least able to assert his Doctor’s constant sense of optimism and shrewd intelligence as he confronts his surroundings and Purity, but ‘The Corruptions’ is a story that can be skipped without any significant consequence, something that should never be true of a penultimate tale and yet another misstep for this lengthy saga that has never truly found its footing despite plenty of intriguing ideas presented along the way.

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