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wshaffer
Audio Review: Doctor Who: An Earthly Child 
3rd-Feb-2010 09:28 pm
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Doctor Who: An Earthly Child Doctor Who: An Earthly Child by Marc Platt


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I put off listening to this until I'd had time to watch The Dalek Invasion of Earth. This was really in no way necessary to understanding or appreciating this audio, but this story does make a nice kind of emotional bookend to Susan's departure story.

The reunion between the Doctor and Susan was well-written and beautifully performed. And honestly, it's reason enough to listen to this story. However, there is the rest of the story to deal with. While it's as crammed full of neat ideas as you'd expect from a Marc Platt script, it doesn't quite satisfy on the character front.

First off, we're told that Susan is a respected former freedom fighter and political figure. Even the Doctor makes a point of praising her wisdom and good sense. And yet somehow it doesn't really feel like wisdom and good sense. For example, Susan is convinced that despite the paranoia and skepticism of the Earth council, Earth needs help from aliens if it is going to prosper. So far so good, but then she decides that the best way to win over this paranoid and skeptical Earth council is to conduct secret negotiations with aliens behind their backs. There are moments that show that Susan really has grown up - most notably at the end, when she decides to stay on Earth and face the consequences of her actions rather than go travelling again with the Doctor, but in many respects she's still too much the naive teenager who left the show in 1965.

Then there's Alex Campbell, the Doctor's great-grandson. My dissatisfaction with his character is milder and harder to pin down. I think it's mostly that he's a bit underexplored, what with everything else going on in the story. He's a smart, idealistic young man who's fallen in with a xenophobic anti-alien group. And then he discovers that he's half alien himself. This has got to deeply shake his sense of identity, but he barely has time to even process it before the play is over. It feels like a missed opportunity.

This sounds like a rather grumpy review, and it really shouldn't be. The story is good, the aliens are interesting, and the whole cast give good performances. It's a pleasure to listen to. It just feels like it could have been more.




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Comments 
4th-Feb-2010 06:43 am (UTC)
It was spoiled for me by Susan's out-of-character behaviour, and also I felt Jake McGann wasn't really up to it (esp in the final confrontation scene).
4th-Feb-2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting point - My initial impression was that Jake McGann's performance was rather good, especially compared to his previous (much briefer) appearances in Immortal Beloved and Phobos. But it's entirely possible that a more skilled actor might have brought out the conflicting elements of Alex's character more vividly, and solved some of the problems I had with that character.
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