DW: Crime of the Century Review

DW Crime of the Century

Raine Creevy was supposed to be the companion that replaced Ace in the now mythical “Season 27”, and although that never came to be, here she is! Crime of the Century was the second story in the Seventh Doctor Lost Stories, and although the original pitch has been changed to include Ace, it’s safe to say if this aired on TV in 1990… Yeah, the series wouldn’t be as well received as most of Season 26 is, let’s put it that way…

Official Synopsis:

The year is 1989. In London, safe cracker Raine Creevy breaks into a house — and finds more than the family jewels. In the Middle East, the kingdom of Sayf Udeen is being terrorised by Soviet invaders and alien monsters.

And on the Scottish border, a highly guarded facility contains an advanced alien weapon.

These are all part of the Doctor’s masterplan. But masterplans can go awry…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) – The Doctor has cheated and taken a look into the diary of Raine Creevy, and arranged to meet her, as he needs her help. His meeting method may not be as conventional as some, mind you…

Ace (Sophie Aldred) – Ace has been given a mission by The Doctor that involves going solo into the warzone known as Kafiristan. A rare sign of complete trust, Ace knows she can’t fail this time…

Raine Creevy (Beth Chalmers) – Raine is an experienced thief and safe cracker. She has been hired by a mysterious client to steal a laundry list of odd items, but she doesn’t bat an eyelid, so long as she gets paid in the end…

Colonel Maxim Felnikov (John Albasiny) – Col. Felnikov met The Doctor and Ace decades ago in a tale that involved Ice Warriors. He is now in the middle of Kafiristan, in the middle of a war zone, and the last thing he expects to see is someone from decades ago who mysteriously doesn’t look any older…

The Metatraxi (John Banks) – The Metatraxi are a warrior race that love to fight wars so much they offer their services to any bidder. Their one catch is that they will always fight a fair battle and match their technology to that of their opponents…

Markus Creevy (Ricky Groves) – A thief and a conman, Markus hasn’t changed much since he last met The Doctor and Ace, well, apart from falling out with his daughter Raine…

Nikitin (Derek Carlyle) – Nikitin serves under Col. Felnikov and is often tasked with meeting and judging potential spies in their midst.

Prince Sayf Udeen (Chris Porter) – Prince Udeen has seen his country of Kafiristan fall to ruin, though his palace is still in good condition! Good enough to have a few helicopters at his disposal, which is handy for quick meetings with Russian soldiers so he can make an extra buck on the side as the war rages on…

Plus many more!

The Good:

DW Crime of the Century Cover

Hmmm… even the cover isn’t that good, and the Lost Stories have had some great ones!

While this story is a bit of mess, there are some good scenes. The opening act, which sees Raine break into a safe at a large manor house only to find The Doctor in there, is fun. The few scenes with The Doctor, Ace and Raine’s Dad Markus is fun, in a stereotypical London geezer style way.

I actually really like the idea behind the Metatraxi and their code of honour. A battle is described where a Metatraxi dropped their gun and drew a sword because a sword was all a soldier opposite to him had, and they proceeded to duel in the middle of battle. It’s a shame they’re turned into a running gag…

The Bad:

The first (and rather major) point is the plot in general. It just has no direction! So, I think The Doctor’s plan is to stop the Metatraxi by first getting a hold of an alien sword that can link to people’s brain and make them better at sword fighting, then give it to Prince Udeen because he’s already one of the world’s best swordfighters, then have him challenge the Metatraxi to a duel where if he wins they leave… That’s a little convoluted, to say the least, but okay. Why did he get the Creevys involved? He could have easily procured the sword himself without help. Maybe he was just nostalgic… even though this takes place straight after their previous encounter. I don’t know, but the plot just felt like it moved from scene to scene without much thought going into why…

There were scenes with the Creevys coming to terms with each other, with The Doctor talking to a person in the British government, and scenes in Udeen’s palace that just felt like padding, probably because they were. I’m finding it hard to explain but the story just feels so… dull and lifeless.

The Metatraxi are a great idea for an alien race, as mentioned in the good, but man are they wasted here! The Doctor meddles with their translator device and it ends up causing them to talk like surfer beach bums, and while hearing “radical dude” type talk is very in-keeping with the year it was due to air (1990) it doesn’t half get annoying, and more importantly, completely cuts the legs out from underneath them, turning them into a joke.

So a thin, uninteresting plot stretched for two hours (and therefore causing a lot of scenes of people talking that go nowhere) and the good introduction of a new alien race that instantly gets turned into an unfunny running gag makes this a slog to go through. Raine has a fun introduction but then does nothing, and the rest of the cast are either bog-standard or completely forgettable. Oh and Markus Creevy is guilty of the ultimate sin: dramatically saying the name of the episode within the episode… twice! Twice he not only calls something “The Crime of the Century”, but he puts specific emphasis on it, making it feel like I needed explaining where the title comes from…

It’s been a long time since I first listened to this, and I remember thinking I’ll probably never listen to the Seventh Doctor Lost Stories again because I really didn’t like them… If it weren’t for this blog “forcing my hand”, I can say that wouldn’t have been the right call…

The Continuity:

DW Crime of the Century Concept

A concept sketch for the episode that has been making the rounds for ages, before the audio Lost Stories were a thing at least.

Markus Creevy, Col. Felnikov and the Martian artefacts The Doctor is after all carry over from Thin Ice, the story preceding this one. In fact Raine as a baby was delivered by The Doctor in the same story, so they are certainly strongly tied together! Beyond that, and the fact that the Metatraxi reappear in this “season” with the fourth Lost Story “Earth Aid”, not much. I guess the lost “Season 27” is strongly tied together, but it thankfully doesn’t impact much outside of itself, beyond Raine making one more appearance outside of it…

Overall Thoughts:

Crime of the Century, as one day you’ll see when I cover the rest of the Seventh Doctor Lost Stories, is a prime example of how these stories should’ve stayed lost. I find it hard to believe the same team that gave us Ghost Light and The Curse of the Fenric was planning THIS. Dull, unfunny and avoidable…

2 Star Listen

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