The Last Resort

Big Finish Folly, Part 60 – Paradise 5, by PJ Hammond & Andy Lane

105-paradise5_cover_largeOn visiting the financial hub that is Targos Delta to visit an old friend, the Doctor discovers that Professor Thompson has inexplicably vanished, last seen boarding a shuttle to the luxury resort of Paradise 5. Suspecting trouble, he and Peri rush discreetly to the rescue – Peri as a new member of staff, and the Doctor lurking in the shuttle’s baggage hold… But this is more than a simple case of kidnapping: who are the Elohim? And what are the Cherubs? And what is the secret of the Paradise Machine?

For the first time in this run of Sixth Doctor tales, we’ve actually got a four-parter! And Paradise 5 benefits from the four-episode treatment, as it helps to speed up the plot somewhat. Not that it needed too much help as it’s a fairly straightforward tale of peril foiled by “pesky kids” – but with an extra side helping of multi-dimensional darkness thrown in. The Elohim are nefarious beasties several degrees more dangerous than even the Doctor himself, as he readily recognises (and so quite rightly they spend a lot of the time being nebulous threats rather than physical entities within the play), and as a concept they’re rather good. But the show belongs to – and is stolen by – the real bad-guy pairing of Alexander McQueen and James D’Arcy, who make Mr Wint & Mr Kidd seem like car park attendants in comparison.

Though this was a 1980s script – it wasn’t even meant to be part of the lost Season 23, but was instead bumped from Trial of a Timelord in favour of the Vervoids story – it doesn’t show its age as much as some of the others have done. In large part this is due to Andy Lane’s vigorous treatment of PJ Hammond’s original plot, which elides some of the more dated elements while still retaining a lot of the dark humour that suits Doctor Who so well. I think Lane must like to play with song lyric quotes (in the same way that I do, as you’ll see when HKV finally makes it to press) as at one point a character shouts “What’s that coming over the hill? Is it… a monster?” He certainly had fun imagining Peri in a bikini too…

Good rip-roaring fun, almost as bright as the cover itself, and a decent return to form for the range. I have to admit that the maguffin of having the Doctor go on holiday/visit old friends is becoming slightly repetitive though…
****

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