The Rosemariners

Posted in Audio by - August 02, 2017
The Rosemariners

Released September 2012

The third series of The Lost Stories comes to a close with ‘The Rosemariners,’ a revisitation of season six and the Second Doctor era that has the distinction of being adapted for audio by original scribe Donald Tosh. When the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe find themselves aboard Earth Station 454 during its closure that is being supervised by the Rosemariners of Rosa Damascena, they soon discover a terrifying plot in a world in which nobody is quite what they seem.

Continuing the Big Finish early era trend of meshing voice acting with linking narration, ‘The Rosemariners’ strikes a perfect balance and flows easily from beginning to end. With David Warner as well-meaning xeno-botanist Professor Arnold Biggs and Clive Wood as megalomaniacal Commander Rugosa joining Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, there is far less repetition in voices than can sometimes be the case in these types of serials, lending a great degree of immersion as the subterfuge aboard the station becomes known. As always, the overall narrative’s success rests squarely upon the shoulders of the original cast members, and both Hines and Padbury do wonderful work with their multiple roles, Hines again excelling with his masterful realization of Patrick Troughton’s second incarnation of the titular Time Lord. The only occasionally odd point is that Padbury spends a good portion of the story playing and referring to her voice as a male officer named Colbert, something that potentially could have been easily rectified with a gender swap without losing any sense of authenticity.

Despite the strong performances and the intriguing supporting characters, however, the actual storyline of ‘The Rosemariners’ is quite straightforward with little in the way of mystery or nuance, a fact made all the more surprising by the hidden identities and truths that pervade the story. This doesn’t mean that what is presented is in any way dull or boring, but it ends up being a very traditional tale hampered only by its unwillingness to take risks with its narrative, uniqueness being a hallmark of other stories Tosh was involved with in the 1960s. The straightforward nature of the plot and characters’ actions does mean that this release does feature a bit more padding than many other stories in this range, but none of it is so egregious as to distract from the overall experience. Nonetheless, the Second Doctor and his companions fighting back against a figure bent on conquest is perfectly in line with the stories of the time as the identities behind the guards and prisoners manifest, and the metaphor for drug use that underlies events is incorporated well without ever intruding on the imagery-laden spectacle being played out before the characters.

‘The Rosemariners’ in undoubtedly a story that, with its strong acting, direction, and sound design, perfectly recaptures the overall feel of its intended era, easily evoking a clear visual to correspond with its narration and dialogue. Even if the dialogue is sometimes left to do a bit too much of the descriptive work, the script itself is filled with superb imagery that oftentimes borders on poetic and lends an extra layer of depth to the production as a whole. While not the perfect conclusion to a strong series of The Lost Stories in terms of creativity, ‘The Rosemariners’ may just be the definitive way to close out this run based on the range’s stated intent.

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