Lucie Miller is back in the first many releases this month, but the first half of this boxset is split between a bit of a train wreck of a first story, and a good second one. Let’s take a closer look then, shall we?
Official Synopsis (of “The Dalek Trap”):
The thing about black holes is, they’re big and they’re black and they’re deadly, and you’d have to be mad to go anywhere near them. Because anything that falls inside a black hole ends up crushed in the singularity.
Unfortunately, the Doctor just went mad, or so it seems, and flew his TARDIS beyond a black hole’s event horizon, causing him and his companion Lucie Miller to end up marooned on a planetoid just inside the event horizon. Along with a Dalek saucer… and something else. Because this is no ordinary black hole…
This is the Cradle of the Darkness.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Episode 2, “The Revolution Game”, was a lot more fun than the first story on offer. It has the old trope of an evil corporation taking advantage of a native species to get technology and hiding the truth from everyone, in this case a large bug-like species whose reflective skin makes for great solar panels. Less of an old trope was that at the same time an inter-planetary game of Roller Derby, though even more violent than it was, is going on, with The Doctor and Lucie not only befriending a star player, but Lucie taking over for her at one point! But enough of the light spoilers, it’s a fun story with a good number of turns that ends a great, and satisfying (and predictable) “boss of evil corporation gets his comeuppance” scene.
A busy cover, but then again it has four stories in one as once again we get no individual covers…
Episode 1, “The Dalek Trap” by Nicholas Briggs manages to avoid a lot of his usual pitfalls of ragtag rebel groups battling the evil gliding tin-pots, but he instead falls into a few pitfalls of writing for an established story after its ended, which given the fact that’s all Big Finish is, is an odd pitfall to fall into! Let me explain: the phrase “Lucie Bleedin’ Miller” was said only a handful of times across the entire four series run of Lucie stories, but as it was funny it became something of a joke on internet forums. So what does Mr. Briggs do? He writes Lucie to refer to herself as “Lucie Bleedin’ Miller” a bunch of times, and has a Dalek repeat it back on top of that, so soon it gets to the point where I’m sure that phrase was said in this story more than it was in the entire EDA series! Then Lucie mentions her Auntie Pat a handful of times, a character not introduced, or conceived, until the second EDA series, so some retroactive foreshadowing there, and worst of all Lucie says “Oh Doctor, you’ll be the death of me!” By the end this story just get the feeling that Mr. Briggs wants to let you know he knows about the future stories of Lucie Miller and her fandom, rather than concentrating on telling a good story.
It had Daleks, a black hole and two confused spacemen, but it was never particularly engaging. The Doctor was MIA for the majority of the story too, so there wasn’t the long-awaited return of the funny Doctor-Lucie interplay until the next story. There was a mystery that gets solved in Episode 4, linking the box together.
As mentioned previously, this set is… set in between the first and second series of the “Eighth Doctor Adventures”, or more specifically, between “Human Resources” and “Dead London”. There are a few on-the-nose references to Lucie’s Auntie Pat, who first appears in “The Zygon Who Fell to Earth”, and to Lucie’s eventual fate in “Lucie Miller / To The Death”.
A slip up to start off with, but the boxset soon settles down with the second episode, which feels like it lives up to the advertising: it was a further adventure for the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller, complete with all the fun interaction and lighter tone found at the start of their run. Looking forward to the second half!
The Revolution Game:
The Dalek Trap: