Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Faith Stealer by: Graham Duff directed by: Gary Russell: A Serendipitous Improvement, Whoops Be Praised

Faith Stealer stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with India Fisher as Charley and Conrad Westmass as C’rizz.  It was written by Graham Duff, directed by Gary Russell and released in October 2004 by Big Finish Productions.


Why wasn’t this used as a series finale instead of The Twilight Kingdom?  It’s got a fun premise to explore, characters who actually have character development and feels like it would just feel out of place in the normal Doctor Who universe.  Yes Faith Stealer is a great story in almost every sense of the word.  The plot sees C’rizz collapsing in the Interzone so the Kro’ka suggests taking them to the Multihaven, a Zone which acts as a haven for anyone of any faith.  That idea alone is amazing as one of the largest problems in this world is war from religious issues and a Zone where this isn’t an issue is a stroke of genius as it is something that could never happen in our universe.  Duff is an excellent writer when judged by this story as it isn’t taking itself too seriously which is just what the story arc needs as the last four stories have been emotionally taxing and to have one be lighter in tone.  This serves as a way to generate more interest in the arc and give us one of the best unique ideas since Scherzo’s test tube two-hander.


The plot is however a bit of a letdown when you realize with its premise it went with the most obvious storyline that could be done.  There is a cult in the Multihaven in the form of the Church of Lucidity which has been going around and forcefully taking over other faiths which is causing an imbalance.  Luckily the supporting characters surrounding this lackluster plot are extremely interesting.  The leader of the Church of Lucidity is Laan Carder who is your standard religious fanatic and isn’t written in an interesting manner, but it is the performance by Christian Rodska that makes the character come alive.  Rodska makes the man feel like an old bishop who has been corrupted by a power and has desired a lust for more.  He is also extremely charismatic as a character as he is able to brainwash everyone else in the Multihaven to submit to his set of beliefs.  This is seen in his assistant Jebdal, a young woman who is looking for something more out of her life and has gone to Lucidity to potentially make herself more lucid in mind and faith.  Jebdal is really not a bad person and actually gets rewarded for being a good example of a religious person in the end.  On the side of our heroes the only characters of note are the Bordinan, the woman in charge of the Multihaven who is basically the Pope of the Divergent Universe, and Director Garfolt, who is in charge of de-faithing people which is a lovely concept.  The Bordinan is a highly sympathetic character who wants to see everyone in the Multihaven find peace which is an idea that I adore while Garfolt is a mad scientist who causes C’rizz to go crazy for the Church of Lucidity in a twist of fate.


Speaking of C’rizz, we actually get a lot of character development from the character.  We are informed of his extreme feelings of guilt of killing his lover and has begun to have flashbacks to the event through the course of this story that only increase in their disturbing nature.  He has been trained as a monk, but is holding some darker secrets beneath the calm and cool exterior.  Conrad Westmass is on top form here as he does get to do some really fun things which cannot be said for India Fisher’s Charley Pollard.  Charley here suffers from bland companion syndrome as she is only there to tag along with the Doctor and ask the right questions.  It isn’t as bad as the characterization in The Twilight Kingdom, but it isn’t very good either.  Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor is on top form in contrast, as he is allowed to flex his comedic muscles.  The Doctor makes up his own faith where they praise C’rizz, begin each morning with a ritual cup of tea and of course are known as Tourists.  The Doctor’s interactions with other faiths are also humorous especially the Church of Serendipity whose moments in the story I won’t ruin, but will hint at with the line “Whoops be praised!”


To summarize, while Faith Stealer is really nothing to ride home about in the grand scheme of things it is in itself a good example of the weird type of situations the Divergent Universe should be.  The bigger problems in the story are some of the blander supporting characters and Charley not being an interesting character along with several plot holes bringing down the overall quality of the story.  72/100

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