Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Sirens of Time written and directed by: Nicholas Briggs: A Whimper Rather Than a Bang

The Sirens of Time stars Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor.  It was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs.  It was released in July 1999 by Big Finish Productions.


The Sirens of Time is Big Finish’s fifth official release and the first release in its Doctor Who Range of Audio Dramas.  It is also the first story they did that wasn’t an adaptation of a previously released novel.  So to kick of the range and really bring in a new era during the Wilderness Years Big Finish cofounder Nicholas Briggs wrote the inaugural story based off an unused script from a fan audio drama for the old Audio Visuals range of stories which had a lot of the early Big Finish personnel’s early work.  Now the problem with the Audio Visuals range is that they were famously cheap and by many were thought to be poor in quality.  So that already makes The Sirens of Time have a few apprehensions before the audio even begins.


First let’s look at the plot.  The audio is split into four parts and while doing the feat of uniting the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors in the same story, they don’t actually meet up until Part Four.  The other three parts are split up between the three Doctors with Seven getting Part One, Five getting Part Two, and Six getting Part Three.  Each Doctor’s part is pretty much a potential Part One for its own story but it is forced together into its own story about Gallifray being in trouble because the Knights of Velyshaa are causing time disturbances as they work for a chronovore like entity to take over the universe.  They are mainly represented by two characters, Lyena played by Sarah Mowat who is the current Commander and Sancroff played by Colin McIntyre who is exiled to a planet.  They are both alright for their purposes in the story but don’t make much of an impression.


The first part is given to Sylvester McCoy where he meets Sancroff and his prison guard Rutherly played by Maggie Stables.  The direction in this part is a bit underwhelming as McCoy is having difficulty with the script and getting back into the role.  Part of that is down to Briggs not knowing how to write the Seventh Doctor, doing a darker performance akin to the Virgin New Adventures or the lighter television performance.  It’s really a mix of both portrayals with hints of the Season 24 Doctor we know.  Sancroff is also a bit boring as a character and the only thing standing out is the frame story introducing the well-meaning Coordinator Vansell and Maggie Stables as Rutherly.


The second part is given to Davison and his is the most like a Doctor Who story.  It involves the Doctor getting trapped on a German submarine that is about to sink the Lusitania and the involvement in stopping its sinking will have consequences a la the butterfly effect.  Yet I don’t remember much about the performances which doesn’t help my ranking of Davison who is pretty low on my list.


The third part is given to Baker and it’s definitely the most enjoyable of the first three parts.  That said it’s mainly because it seems like the part was partially written for Tom Baker and Colin Baker is still giving his all.  He really believes in this company and knows it will go far.  And into the final part when they meet up is the most interesting parts of the story as the quality improves even when the story is completely dull and uninteresting.


To summarize The Sirens of Time feels a lot like it’s a company trying to find its feet and it is a story rank with mediocrity.  The acting is all over the place with only Colin Baker and Maggie Stables giving their best.  The direction is all over the place and the story has so much potential if the script was edited more starting Big Finish with a whimper rather than a bang.  50/100

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