Lucie Miller is back in the first many releases this month, and it was at least worth the wait. Ignoring a bit of a train wreck of a first story, the box was a fun trip overall, so let’s take a look! (Take a look in a different, more free-form format than I normally do…)
It’s been several months since Lucie Miller, Blackpool’s mouthiest, landed up travelling through time and space in the company of the Doctor, the last living person to believe that frock coats are acceptable apparel.
They’ve met Daleks on Red Rocket Rising, Cybermen on the planet Lonsis and alien monsters eating glam rockers at a service station just off the M62. But their greatest adventures are yet to come…
A busy cover, but then again it has four stories in one as once again we get no individual covers…
Given this boxset takes place in between the first and second series of Eighth Doctor / Lucie stories, they could have gotten away with just a set of four stand-alone stories, but instead this sort of works as a “Series 1.5”, complete with a thin story arc climaxing in the final episode, a final episode that features a newly returning enemy (something also true of the Series 2 and 3 finales!)
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.
Episode 2, “The Revolution Game” by Alice Cavender was a lot more fun. 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.
Episode 3, “The House on the Edge of Chaos” by Eddie Robson, is a good, but closer to average affair. Then again, if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll probably know that I really dislike the old snobby 18th/19th century house party type setting, and while the setting is actually a large house on a planet with deadly static-like deadly atmosphere, there are still plenty of scenes and characters that made me roll my eyes. It had some unique ideas going for it, and some good old-fashioned ghost-like scenes, but it wasn’t my personal cup of tea…
Episode 4, “The Island of the Fendahl” by Alan Barnes on the other hand was a great story to end with. It played with the story introduced in the Fourth Doctor TV serial, but crossed it with “The Wicker Man”, with great success.
*Spoiler Paragraph Starts… NOW!*
The big reveal is that the evil force in The Dalek Trap that controlled The Doctor’s actions (and put him on the shelf for most of it) was the Fendahl skull, surviving in a black hole where The Doctor had previously sent it into a sun. The two planets (and more in between) that they visit in Episodes 2 and 3 cause the TARDIS to draw a pentagram in space, giving it more power. Without knowing it, it’s The Doctor who brings the skull to the titular Island and nearly causes the Fendahl to return in Episode 4, the world, if not the universe, is only saved when Lucie throws the Skull out of the TARDIS just a short distance away from where The Fourth Doctor is throwing the Skull, and when the two Skulls hit each other, the paradox causes a the sun to go supernova, turn into a black hole, and there we have an endless loop to keep the evil artefact in place.
*Spoiler Paragraph Ends… NOW!*
So overall, it was a good set, just the opening episode lets it down…
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”.
The Fendahl and all the related things first appeared in Fourth Doctor TV story “Image of the Fendahl”, and hasn’t actually made another appearance in the TV or Audios, apart from a Torchwood audio story, but I don’t know how this would fit in with this story yet…
A slip up to start off with, but the boxset soon settles down into what it was advertised as: Further Adventures for Lucie Miller and the Eighth Doctor, the two still have great interactions and the lighter tone of the their early stories was kept, with some more serious moments thrown around, obviously. A good time, for the most part…
The Revolution Game & Island of the Fendahl:
The House of the Edge of Chaos:
The Dalek Trap: