Big Finish Folly, Part 137 – The Warehouse, by Mike Tucker
In the aisles of a vast orbital warehouse lurk all kinds of beasties and dangers – giant rat-like aliens, spores of terrifying mould, assistants detailed to a permanent stock count, a sinister supervisor… and a strange blue box that you can’t normally buy off the shelf. The Doctor should be taking in an opera, but instead he’s trying to work out why slot A doesn’t fit into flange B…
We continue through the newest adventures of Sly’s Seventh and Bonnie Langford’s Melanie Bush with a wry take on lost civilisations that would actually have sat quite well in the general run of the TV show. While Doctor Who in the 1980s wouldn’t have known too much about Ikea, you only have to look at Leela’s Sevateem to see how the production team might have followed the idea through. Present day references to retail and customer service abound, but are by no means out of place. There’s a sort of gently anarchic humour too, which reflects the first TV appearances of the Seventh Doctor rather than the more biting satire of, say, We Are The Daleks.
The plot itself isn’t massively complicated. The orbiting warehouse and the planet below are puzzles waiting to be solved, which the Doctor tackles with gusto, while Mel is tasked with repairing the onboard computer, which has been preventing fresh supplies from reaching the planet surface. As the revelations come one by one, the story becomes a race against time to stop history from repeating itself.
One way to get lots of characters from a limited cast is to have several characters as clones of each other. This is great fun for the actors concerned, as they get to emphasise different aspects of each version of their character. Some come across a little clearer than others, but there’s not a problem separating them out from each other. Phillip Franks’s Supervisor meanwhile seems to be channelling the spirit of Nick Briggs from the BF podcasts, meddling, broadcasting and plotting all at the same time.
As many of the second stories in the trilogies tend to be, The Warehouse is solid and sturdy without being groundbreaking or breathtaking. But in a stand-up fight against more arc-heavy or continuity-reliant stories, it more than holds its own.