The Scavengers

Big Finish Folly, Part 78 – ID, by Eddie Robson

It’s a giant junkyard, filling with the fallen technology of decades gone by. If it ever had a microchip, or some form of program, it’ll end up here in time. And where there’s storage, there’s undeleted data. And where there’s undeleted data, there’s people who’ll try to make a swift buck from it. But this time the scandroids have found something more than just bank details and incriminating photgraphs. This time they’ve found Priority Data. Never mind a swift buck, whoever has this data will make a killing….

Warning: this play contains Gyles Brandreth. For some reason they have him playing as an unscrupulous power-hungry tyrant figure. I can’t imagine why.

Joking aside, this is a part of the run of three-episode stories that Big Finish produced around 2007ish, each coupled with a separate standalone single-episode story. ID fits the scale of this premise very well – quick and fairly brutal, it doesn’t hold back on the body count and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The central image of scavengers rooting through abandoned technology in search of personal data to sell isn’t too far away from the modern world. The scandroids present an interesting threat too, killing by downloading corrupted information directly into the human brain.

In some respects the story doesn’t even need the Doctor’s presence – it would work well enough as a tale in its own right, pitting man against machine and (in the finale) “man” against “man”. But while all the other characters have some flaw that renders them ultimately unsympathetic (deliberately removing her own guilt; being an immoral bastard; whinging ineffectually) the Doctor is once again an Everyman and Gatekeeper against humanity’s neverending ability to do wrong to itself. You could see both the Fifth and Seventh Doctors having their own slant on this story, but Ol’ Sixey is the right match for the level of physicality that the script demands.
****½

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