Next up on our look at the Lost Stories is the very oddly named “The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance”, and is actually quite the oddity. It was completely scripted and pitched as a single-episode story (the serial format hadn’t been set in stone at the time of writing) but the pitch was shot down. Really it was only adapted here because the original script still existed and Big Finish was adapting writer Moris Farhi’s other story (Farewell, Great Macedon) so why not? Well… why not indeed, I guess! It’s an odd story, but is it a good story? Let’s find out!
Fragrance is a paradise world — a utopia that the travellers are loathe to leave after a relaxing stay. But the way of life is different here.
And so is the way of love — as Barbara discovers when the Fragile Yellow Arc is broken…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Absolutely stunning cover, possibly the best in the whole range.
So here is the gist: on the planet Fragrance people go through two phases of life: The Thin Purple Arc (basically child-to-teens) and the Fragile Yellow Arc (falling in love-to-death) and they fall in love only the once, and if that love doesn’t last, it’s over… for their life. Literally.
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan are unaware of this fact and sadly a resident of Fragrance named Rhythm has fallen for Barbara, who is now about to leave on the TARDIS. The Doctor and Ian are confused as Rhythm’s parents demand she stay and Susan talks to the very concerned Melody and Harmony, Rhythm’s sisters. Its here Susan learns the truth and tells Barbara, who despite everything, isn’t in love with the man and says she still has to leave. The TARDIS crew leave and Rhythm says a sorrowful goodbye to his family and then drowns himself in the nearby lake.
It’s all very surreal and sad and … weird. You can tell it was written before Doctor Who’s style got established because this single episode story was not of the correct tone. It was good though, nicely written and everything… Just, weird.
I guess … no I don’t know. It was short but perfectly paced for the length, and otherwise told a perfectly nice and tragic story. It didn’t feel very Doctor Who-y, but… Not bad.
I mean… it’s not much to look at, but here’s the box it came in!
It’s later established that after this story comes “Farewell, Great Macedon”, followed by “The Masters of Luxor”, which I reviewed last time… Yeah, this is why from the Second Doctor onwards I’m just reviewing them in release order…
How to rate “The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance”… It didn’t really feel like a Doctor Who story, but for a single episode it did tell a perfectly good tale of love and tragedy. I guess a 4 because it’s good, but not amazing… or maybe it’s just a bit too conceptual for me? *shrugs* let’s just move on to more traditional stories, shall we?