The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance

Posted in Audio by - June 29, 2017
The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance

Released November 2010

The First Doctor Box Set concludes with ‘The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance,’ a one-off story written by Morris Farhi as an example of his talents for original script editor David Whitaker to see. The result is one of the most intimate and personal stories Doctor Who has ever achieved, highlighting a very different side of Morris’s writing than the historical intrigue of the preceding ‘Farewell, Great Macedon.’

Through deft descriptions and dialogue, Fahri is able to paint an incredible picture of the alien world of Fragrance, a world in which the concepts of war, hunger, and strife have been eliminated. However, the price for this paradise is a high one, and though everyone is happily married by the age of thirty, a feeling of love must be reciprocated to keep death at bay. While it’s perhaps unsurprising that Barbara should be the unknowing cause of unrequited love, thus inadvertently signing a death sentence for one of Fragrance’s populace, Rhythm, it’s the characterization of these two as they try to traverse their feelings and the resultant consequences that truly shines, allowing for truly magnificent and emotional sentiments and dialogue that ring hauntingly true in a fashion that many Doctor Who stories never quite manage to achieve.

‘The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance’ again comes from a time when the nature of the programme and even the character of the Doctor were anything but set in stone, and this one-episode tale also manages to progress the conflict regarding the Doctor’s failed attempts at returning Ian and Barbara home, here seeing the Doctor showing off the TARDIS interior to citizens of Fragrance in return for their help in fixing his broken coordinator. This progression also contrasts nicely with the drama stemming from Rhythm’s family discussing the morals and potential necessity of forcing Barbara to remain on Fragrance to prevent Rhythm’s death now that he has proclaimed his love for her. Doctor Who would certainly become more experimental during its second year on television, but exploring the notions of the purple arc of childhood to maturity and the yellow arc of love as the two phases of life upon Fragrance is quite novel for its intended time, and the poetry imbued in the narration and dialogue meshes with the fairy tale setting perfectly.

While the brief running time may not fully allow for exploration of the relationship between Barbara and Rhythm, ‘The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance’ is nonetheless a powerful tale that even just as an idea leaps off the page to the audio medium excellently. Though by no means the vast epic of the conspiracy-filled ‘Farewell, Great Macedon,’ this is the perfect complement to that story by offering a much more intimate tale that hints at aspects of the TARDIS that subtly change the overall mythology of the programme. As a character study for Barabara who is unwittingly thrust into an impossible situation, ‘The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance’ is an incredibly strong- if brief- finale to an incredible duo of stories looking back to the earliest era of Doctor Who and what could have been.

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