Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dust Breeding by: Mike Tucker directed by: Gary Russell: You Are Dust and To Dust You Shall Return

Dust Breeding stars Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace.  It was written by Mike Tucker, directed by Gary Russell and released in June 2001 by Big Finish Productions.


Dust Breeding is full to the brim with brilliant ideas that author Mike Tucker brings to the table more than his original play, The Genocide Machine.  The plot reveals that throughout his life the Doctor has been stealing paintings as soon as they go missing to preserve the art and how this allows him to discover a creature living in “The Scream” by painter Edvard Munch a la the six fake Mona Lisa’s in City of Death.  This becomes part of a plot with the Master who is teaming up with the Krill, an alien created by Tucker and Perry for the novel Storm Harvest, to restore his body by harvesting this creature on a dust planet.  There is also an intergalactic art convention with a mad artist melding his body with the dust for his art and a comedic woman running the place played by Liz Shaw actress, Caroline John.  The audio itself is too cluttered for its own good trying to combine so many different ideas that it takes a lot to keep everything straight in your head.  I’ve never read any of Tucker’s novel work, but as most of his work has been with Robert Perry I feel Tucker is the idea and character man while Perry actually does the plot structure.  This is evident in Dust Breeding just because of how cluttered everything is even though the characters shine through.


The Doctor and Ace have characterization on par with that seen in The Fearmonger and they feel more like they were equals during this story.  Ace in particular has her own subplot where she gets to be independent of the Doctor and Sophie Aldred pulls it off.  While it is obvious Aldred has aged I think her voice works better on audio than it would have if this was still 1989.  Some of her delivery is off in places.  Ace has a few good cracks at the Doctor and questions the morality of stealing paintings.  Sadly that debate is never really resolved as the plot continues on without any real looking back on previously established conflict.


The villain of the piece is the Master with Geoffrey Beevers making a quiet return as the character post Survival.  Tucker goes into nice enough detail about what happens but don’t expect it to make it the perfect resolution with the books and how David A. McIntee saw him post Survival.  It also makes it hell to keep track of the different versions of the Master as Beevers has two incarnations now.  Nothing on Beevers however as he is brilliant and you won’t see the Master coming as the alias is perfect.  He teams up with the Krill who are an interesting idea for a villain even though they don’t do much.


The side characters are varied with Guthrie basically being the mysterious old man who gets a few laughs.  There is the return of Bev Tarrent from The Genocide Machine who works better here when she isn’t a carbon copy of Benny.  She would steal the show if it wasn’t for Damien who is the camp secondary villain and Madame Salvadori who is Caroline John let off her leash and allowed to go full pantomime.  The rest of the characters are rather dull and unforgettable and Tucker falls into the same traps of The Genocide Machine with great ideas, but a badly structured plot.  It doesn’t help that the music for the story is also forgettable even if I can praise its sound design for just being great.


To summarize, Dust Breeding just doesn’t do it for me.  I mean it is a good story with some great ideas which I really can get into, but there are many flaws that keep me from liking it.  Music is very forgettable but the sound is nice and the characters are mostly varied from what we have seen before.  Tucker just cannot write a coherent plot if it was the only thing he could do to save the world.  A real example of wasted potential.  65/100

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