Doctor Who and the Silurians
Warriors of the Deep
Big Finish Productions
|Written by||Jonathan Morris|
|Continuity||Between Trial of a Time Lord
and Time and the Rani
|Starring Colin Baker and Maggie Stables|
|Also featuring Miles Richardson, George Telfer, Julian Harries, Daniel Hogarth, Helen Goldwyn, Janie Goddard, Jezz Fielder|
|Synopsis: The TARDIS has landed on the Galapagos Islands, a desolate outcrop of rocks shrouded in mist and fear. In the settlement of Baquerizo Moreno, there are rumours that prisoners have been mysteriously disappearing from the gaolhouse. A fisherman has been driven insane by something he saw in the caves. And the Doctor and Evelyn are not the only new arrivals; there is also a young natural philosopher by the name of Charles Darwin...|
Tide up in Knots by Andrew Wixon 28/8/01
While I'm fully aware of and tend to agree with the no-spoiler policy put in place by our enlightened and sagacious editor, it's difficult to review Bloodtide while keeping within its' bounds. So I'm going to risk the wrath of the management and tell you now: SPOILERS IN LATER PARAGRAPHS. Hit that Back button forthwith if this offends you.
Bloodtide seems to suffer badly from a syndrome previously seen in various bits of TV DW; that of a very promising first couple of episodes which somehow don't seem to live up to their potential. This is purely a gut reaction on my part; I can't honestly fault the second half of the story (well, I can a bit, see below), it's just a little... disappointing. If forced to, I'll say that the opening episode creates a number of interesting locations and characters and potentially fascinating plot-threads... and by the time we reach episode four it's a case of all the main characters being locked in a cell together and running up and down corridors to resolve the story. A bit of a let down.
But apart from this, we have a well-plotted, if rather far-fetched, story (it's just impossible to believe that all of the events of this story would go unheard of by the rest of the world), with solid performances and pleasing respect for the Silurians' original conception (but more on this later). The acting can't be faulted, and Colin Baker shines as usual. Most of the dialogue is fine but the sequences where Charles Darwin discovers evolution before the very ears of the audience (and largely due to meeting the Silurians...) seemed terribly corny to me.
The Silurians are, for the most part, very well handled - these are the 70s guys from under Derbyshire, rather than the 80s buffoons from Sea Base Four. The voices and other sound effects are as flawless as we've come to expect from Big Finish. Their methods ring true to their debut appearance. The writer even manages to resurrect the dreaded you-know-what from Warriors of the Deep without it being too embarrassing. Although I never quite got past the problem of why the Silurians would build an underground base on a volcanic island and how it stayed in one piece for 'hundreds of thousands of years' in what's not exactly a stable geological area.
You will notice I said hundreds of thousands of years just then; this figure is repeatedly used by the Doctor as a round figure of how long ago the Silurian civilisation fell. (He also says 'a million' at one point.) If I have a major issue with Bloodtide it relates to this. I'm no great fan of continuity, ditch the lot I say, but if you're going to use it you should get it right and Bloodtide just ties the already myrky Eocene history up in knots (and you thought the review title was just a cheap pun). Bloodtide's Silurians lived at least forty million years later than we were led to believe. It also seems very unlikely, from the glimpses we are given, that the event that drove them into hibernation was the arrival of the moon as we all thought. This was just horribly confusing and distracted me from the story a lot. Things aren't helped by the major plot twist. which is that - shock! - humanity is a Silurian genetically-modified food animal run riot. What's that, Silurians? You say you had a big influence on the evolution of the human race? Could you just join the queue over there behind the Daemons, the Fendahl, Scaroth, and all those other guys? Ta. This particular idea has been flogged to death in DW, done so many times it's just not plausible, surprising, or even particularly interesting any more.
But these are just the rantings of a sad old man who's read Malcolm Hulke's novelisation of The Cave Monsters way too many times. There's a lot to like in Bloodtide, even if it seems torn between a desire to celebrate the past and another to ride roughshod over it. If nothing else it's a hell of a lot better than Warriors of the Deep... but then so is nearly everything else ever written.
Bloody Unoriginal by Julian Shortman 17/9/01
Shame, shame, shame! It’s not without considerable sadness that I come to slate my most recent purchase from Big Finish. And sadder still that my criticisms are aimed predominantly towards Jonathan Morris. Now, I’ve read from various quarters that his first novel, Festival of Death, was a cracking read. It’s a shame then that he didn’t seem able to pull off the same quality with this story.
And it’s only really with the story itself that I can aim my missiles of dislike. Everything else about the production is almost faultless. The actors are all on top form. Colin Baker continues to add weighty evidence to the fact that he could have matured into a thoroughly likeable, mellow Doctor on screen (although I’m not party to the idea that it was ever worth having him playing an irritable egomaniac for almost two whole seasons). Maggie Stables also shows a maturity and confidence in the role of Evelyn which is to her credit. The supporting cast are generally strong and carry their roles well. And the Silurians sound very authentic to their original 70’s counterparts.
All the background effects, music etc. are on top form. And even the cover is one of the best to come off the BF production line. So why does Mr. Morris’ script let the whole thing down so badly?
Well, my main criticism against it was how unoriginal most of the script was. I really didn’t want to hear a re-run of The Silurians, but that’s pretty much what I got, with a smattering of Warriors of the Deep albeit placed in a more historical setting. Granted, there was one new idea, but it wasn’t strong enough by far to carry the whole story.
Now I’m sure there’s a balance to be struck when old, familiar monsters return for a sequel/prequel etc. You have to let the audience enjoy their familiarity, but you also have to bring something new to justify their return. It really did begin to stink when I could predict almost every turn of event from casting my mind back to the two TV stories. So we had, oh yes, here comes an unknown character turned mad – hmmm…wonder if he’s run into a Silurian perchance? Here comes the secret marine weapon – hmm…..I wonder if that might be the Myrka? Here comes the evil Silurian scientist – hmmm…I wonder if there’s a more sympathetic Silurian nearby that will end up turning against the evil scientist?
Believe me, I desperately wanted something fresh and new. I like the Silurians as much as the next Who fan and welcomed their return. But BF have allowed Mr. Morris to commit the cardinal sin of returning monsters – by taking the safe and easy route of only re-treading old ground.
As for the one new idea, when it was ‘let out of the bag’ in its full glory at the end of episode three I had no sense of "Wow!" – more a case of "Oh.. so that’s where he’s going.." It didn’t have any real impact on the action. It seemed more a case of one big boast from the Silurians which wasn’t going to affect the future of humanity much anyway. At the most it could just give them something to whine about – "It’s not our fault we’ve polluted and ruined the whole planet Earth. We wouldn’t have done it if Tulok hadn’t genetically mutated our ancestors!" Sounds convincing? I think not. I much prefer to see humans being held fully accountable for their own development and progress, good or bad. And having let this ‘surprise’ out the bag (and I think flashbacks are generally not a good idea in Doctor Who as a plot device), there was little left to be mulling over during the final episode. Oh yes, here comes the lethal bacteria, about to cause a worldwide plague – hmm.. now where did hear that one before?
Finally I can’t really complete this review without mentioning Darwin – well acted again – but necessary to the story, truly engaging and fascinating? I thought not. We all knew where he was heading in his thinking, and I didn’t share Evelyn’s fascination with watching it happen. It was quite fun having him meet the Silurians, thus blowing away his previous beliefs in the Garden of Eden. But it was also quite fun to hear a Myrka attack an old sailing ship. Neither were strong enough to maintain a flagging story or my interest.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 16/10/01
If you like your Doctor Who traditional, then Bloodtide is the audio for you. Combining elements from the past - the Silurians, excellently recreated here, historical figures in Charles Darwin, again excellently portrayed by Miles Richardson - and the sci-fi elements, in The Doctor and Evelyn`s presence. Jonathan Morris has turned out a script which serves as an appetiser to both newcomers and die-hard fans; my only gripe is that he does nothing particularly new with the Silurians; their motives are the same as ever. Colin Baker and Maggie Stables continue to prove their consistency in their respective roles as Time Lord and Companion, and they are one of the highlights of Bloodtide. In short then, it is enjoyable but undemanding fare, something which good Doctor Who should always be.
Bloody-tide by Jamas Enright 28/1/02
The first thing that struck me about Bloodtide was how polished Colin Baker's performance was. I was never against Colin Baker on TV like some people seem to be, indeed I was quietly pro-Baker, but his performance here leaves no doubt that Colin Baker is a Doctor, and it is as if he never left the part (I say 'a' Doctor as Peter Davison will always be 'the' Doctor to me).
In fact, the entire cast of Bloodtide perform wonderfully. Maggie Stables fits superbly as Evelyn, the Doctor-companion relationship firmly established here and her and Colin Baker play off each other with a practised ease. She remains completely believable, whether trekking across the island in the wake of the Doctor's bad puns or helping her idol Charles Darwin against the Silurians.
Charles Darwin is played magnificently by Miles Richardson, known to some fans as the Shakespearian Draconian in the Mindgame series, and more recently as Irving Braxiatel in the Big Finish Bernice Summerfield audios. In the making of Bloodtide segment on the Big Finish Magazine CD, Miles Richardson speaks of loving the chance to play someone younger than himself, which he does so incredibly well. If he wasn't born to play the part, he acts as if he was.
Julian Harris played Governor Lawson, and I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but the character comes across as almost effeminate, and certainly struck me as rather humourous. Daniel Hogarth and the ever versatile Helen Goldwyn are the main Silurians, and, although they are largely just electronically modified voices, they infuse the parts with real feeling and emotion.
All this is very well, but what of the story by new writer Jonathon Morris, commissioned here before his novel Festival of Death made through the BBC offices. The set-up of the story is Evelyn Smythe meeting her idol Charles Darwin, with the Silurians making a surprise (to them) appearance. It is undeniable that this story contains Charles Darwin. It is undeniable that this story contains Silurians. However, it is possibly deniable that the story contains a lot of story. What we have is minor essays on such topics as the process of Descent through Modification (which is not 'evolution'), and the exact reason for the Silurians not waking up on time. A lot of possible character development is missing in favour of hearing about how the Silurians are better than the sheep that are humans. It's not that the story is bad, it's that the story could have been better.
Production-wise, most of the scenes come through in a vivid reality of sound. There are a few instances in the Silurian base/caves that might have been made clearer with better audio cues to help differentiate one cave from another. But the voices were clear, even the Silurian ones, which is one of the basic qualities I always want in an audio.
The end result, Bloodtide is an amazingly acted audio that is let down slightly by the quality of the story. However, Colin Baker's performance alone is enough to make this a must to listen to.
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 6/2/02
I was so impressed with the first part of this story from Big Finish. The Doctor (played brilliantly by Colin Baker) and Evelyn (wonderful companion) are so good together. Their banter is glorious, their clear affection for each other, and respect, is nice. It is the Doctor’s clear affection for Evelyn that brings them to the Galapagos Islands, to meet a certain Charles Darwin.
There is plenty of descriptive prose about the fauna, creating a wonderful picture in the mind of a truly exotic place. Big Finish supplement the dialogue in their usual magnificent way, we really are there as we listen to the Doctor and Evelyn fighting through the undergrowth.
The Doctor is frequently name-dropping in all his incarnations, and it’s quite fun. Doctor Who's depictions of actual historical figures are less successful. Darwin is no exception to this unfortunate rule. He starts out very well, a real Victorian young gentleman – with an explorers’drive. But by Part 3 his character has deteriorated rapidly. The sudden realization that his evolutionary theory was in fact true, is so quick and wrong in a historical context, as to destroy any credibility of his character. Darwin always called his ideas theories, not facts – thus we have the Theory of Evolution, not the Fact or Law of Evolution. He was always wary of the religious teachings of the day, and tried to rationalize them. He never dismissed them out of hand as he does here. This story shows none of this introspection, just a quick jumping to fact. Darwin was a fascinating person, he was in this to start with – but is thoroughly unlikeable and obsessive by the end (not the idea of the writer I presume).
Despite the unlikeability of Darwin in this story though there is much to like. I really liked the Galapagos Island setting. It is terrifically realized, but it is made even more interesting by such additions as the Prison and the wardens, the beliefs of the locals, the Beagle just offshore. There are lots of fascinating insights that contribute so much to the story as a whole.
The monsters of this story are the Silurians. Plenty of the Pertwee Story The Silurians is taken and grafted onto to this. Their voices are very accurately realized, but there is nothing new presented about their race (read Blood Heat for that), except their unsavoury eating habits, which bordered on the sensational, not the dramatic. Their underground lair is better of course in the imagination. Unfortunately though the Myrka is not better in the imagination though. I just cannot shake off the Pantomime Horse of the diabolical Warriors of the Deep. Better leave the Myrka in the 80’s I think.
Overall Bloodtide is a real puzzler. Episode 1 is as good as anything Big Finish have produced. But by Episode 4 that initial interest has dissipated somewhat. It’s still a good story, there’s just a few things that spoiled the mix. 7/10
Lord of the Monkeys by Robert Thomas 11/3/02
A good little story this one, and not a bad thing after the epicness of the two stories before it. From the opening scenes you can tell this is going to be an enjoyable little romp. You can probably spot the old monsters on the cover and if that's what you want this story is for you. However at other parts of the story there's a lot of surprising things happen that you would not expect in a romp. What I'm saying is that this is a story that could probably be enjoyed by a lot of fans. There are a lot of cozy things happening with a lot of shocking stuff thrown in for good measure. Also there are some surprising elements that will surprise and perhaps annoy people. (I love it when Who does this)
There's not a lot I can say about it really, a few surprising moments that will probably raise it a little higher than other typical romps. But in saying that I may be doing it an injustice, in all honesty its a nice little story, what makes it so likeable is that its got some ideas way above its station, which again makes it so likable. The regulars are as good as we've come to expect with the guest cast coming over well enough and of course being used to Warriors of the Deep the monsters felt wonderfully unusual. Its enjoyable fun and whatever people say about the end revelations, it's harmless fun.
A Review by Andrew Hunter 8/9/02
Arriving on the Galapagos Islands, the Doctor faces some old foes from his past - foes who will stop at nothing to eliminate an obstacle known as man from their path...
Even before we listen to the CD, the amazing front cover, designed by Clayton Hickman, lets us know we may be in for a treat. It reveals the main aspects of the story - the menaces are Silurians, there is a map letting us know where the story is set and a ship is depicted, sailing with blood on the water nearby, informing us that something very serious will happen to the crew and perhaps the nearby island inhabitants.
These nearby island inhabitants are in danger from the Silurians - beings that once ruled the Earth when man was at a primitive stage. Their species went into hibernation, in an attempt to survive a worldwide catastrophe, leaving the apes on the surface to perish. The catastrophe never occurred, and the apes turned into men, while the Silurians remained in hibernation, until now.
This group of Silurians is led by a scientist by the name of Tulok, a scientist who became an outcast by his own people for genetic experiments which were against Silurian Law. Daniel Hogarth provides a voice for Tulok, a voice which makes Tulok the most memorable Silurian in Doctor Who history. This status of being the most memorable Silurian is aided by a brutal and devious plan. Tulok claims he created mankind, but intends to kill them all so the Silurians can, once again, be rulers of Earth.
Naturally, the Doctor is at hand to stop this brutal plot. Although he wasn't popular on television, Colin Baker's Doctor is well enough developed and explored in the audios to make him one of the top favourites among fans. Baker is almost perfect in the role as the Doctor, who is once again joined by Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe. Stables makes her character fit nicely into the story, which is also due to good direction by Gary Russell.
One of the story's highlights for Smythe is meeting Charles Darwin. Bloodtide presents Darwin as an intelligent and curious young man. Miles Richardson plays Darwin, providing the best guest performance in Bloodtide because his voice is full of curiosity, which smoothly produces some interesting scientific theories.
Unfortunately, the rest of the guest cast is let down by some annoying accents by Jez Fielder as Emilio, Jane Goddard as Greta and, to some extent, Julian Harries as Governor Lawson. After a lot of complaining, which is understandable but tedious for the listener, Greta does save the crew of the ship, the same ship on the glorious front cover, by allowing the Myrka to kill her because she was the reason it was attacking the ship.
This attack by the Myrka is one of the few incidences of action in the story, but the story relies more on mystery and suspense. At the end of episode four, a lot of fans will realise that they have listened to a fine story; a story which, in some ways, makes some of us think about our place in Nature. In this respect, Bloodtide is a success because it makes us think about it and makes us want to listen to it again.
Darwinian treasures... by Joe Ford 4/10/03
There is so much to enjoy in this adventure it is hard to see why it is given so much flack. For a start it has one of the most eye catching covers in ages, the Beagle floating on a sea of blood, the sixth Doctor's moody face hidden in shadow mirroring a Silurian on the other side and a map of the Galapagos islands overlaid on a stormy sky. Certainly memorable and guaranteed to get a reaction out of anybody who has an interest in history, Doctor Who and a good horror story.
But aside from the aesthetic qualities there are many other facets to the story that impress. Superb novelist Jonathan Morris takes to writing the script with real aplomb, researching Darwin and his voyage furiously to give the listener an education as well as a rollicking good adventure. There is a lot of information dropped throughout the tale but I never felt like I was getting a lecture on evolution rather I felt drawn into the history of it, sticking close as Darwin makes his discoveries. It is certainly a fascinating period to explore and with Doctor Who's own twist on evolution (Doctor Who and the Silurians for those of you that aren't rabid fans) it becomes a slightly scarier, less formulaic style of education that is impossible to dislike. Mixing fact with fiction is always a dangerous business but Jon Morris pulls of a real feat here, managing to stay loyal to his source material and inject some SF sun too.
The Silurians were one of my favourite monsters in Doctor Who because (until the diabolical Warriors of the Deep) they went beyond the traditional purpose of the aliens in the show (usually to provide some good scares) and were dealt with more intelligently. The whole idea of a reptile species lying dormant beneath the Earths surface whilst the human race evolves out of control is an appealing one. Doctor Who and the Silurians dealt with their awakening extremely well, their disgust and outrage that their planet has been overrun by mindless apes made for discomforting but riveting viewing.
Bloodtide manages to go a step further, not only suggesting that the Silurians 'own' the planet but that the human race was a genetic experiment by one of their top scientists, a mistake that they almost killed him for. The Silurians banished the results of the experiments to the barren surface of the planet expecting them to die horribly. As we know that was not the case. A terrifying idea, that we were guided into being by a misguided reptile is explored thoroughly to the point where Tulok (the scientist) exclaims grandiosely "I am your God!" It's a hell of a cliff-hanger and one of the best twists in the Big Finish range.
Issues of planetary ownership return ("We were here first!" the Doctor mocks them brilliantly) but more importantly we get to discover more about the creatures themselves. There is a female Silurian (who it appears is more reasonable and compassionate than many of the males so nice parallel with humans there!) and in a scene of chilling horror the Doctor and Fitzroy stumble upon the Silurians larder, human corpse hanging by meat hooks like carcasses in a butcher's shop. Very scary.
All this and the return of the dreaded Myrka! Certainly its best appearance to date, in Bloodtide the beast is a huge, muscled sea creature with teeth that can cut through ships and make fast work of sailors. On audio we can experience the scale and terror of the monster without any of the chuckles. I would not deprive Doctor Who of one of its all time best wet your pants with laughter monsters but the limitless budget of audio certainly restores the creature's reputation.
With intelligent issues being covered and the Silurians back on the top ten monsters lists it might sound as though the story could be a little dull. Enter the sixth Doctor and Evelyn, the most engaging Doc/companion team ever. Laughs aplenty as he storms from the TARDIS quoting Herman Melville, as he narrowly avoids being trampled on by a giant tortoise, as they squabble over historical details. It is Colin Baker's turn to shine in this story, taking his Doctor to previously unexplored realms of compassion and alieness. His desire to rush after Greta and help her find her brother is pleasingly Doctor-ish as is his witty banter and desire to please Evelyn with his surprise visit to see Darwin in action. Where the story scores points on its accuracy with the sixth Doctor is his complete lack of reaction to the deaths, his explanation to Fitzroy as to why the Silurians eating humans "isn't wrong", how he walks out on Lawson after he decides he doesn't want to have the Silurians control over him removed. It displays all the qualities that make him so compelling to watch/listen to. Colin rises to the challenge with typical ease.
Not to scoff Maggie Stables who joins the guest cast in delivering a fine performance. Her voyage with Darwin provides Stables with a chance to be a bit playful, desperate as she is to nudge him in the right direction but holding herself back for the sake of the timelines. George Talfer plays Fitzroy with a dominant personality just as the history books suggest he was, his disgusted reactions to everything felt very right. Miles Richardson aces Darwin offering an inquisitive, thoughtful and excitable character who is the highlight of the production especially with his controversial exclamation of "There is no God!".
The sound effects are terrific as usual, the crashing waves and noisy wildlife providing some atmospheric scenes. I especially enjoyed Emillio's attack in episode one, very loud and very disturbing, the chasms of his mind regressing all the while.
Alas it is with bitter disappointment that I have to report that episode four does not match the rest of the production, there is a slight feeling that Morris has run out of ideas and trades his plot for more traditional fare, escape, capture, get hypnotised... that sort of thing. It's still entertaining stuff especially with actors of this calibre bouncing off each other but the climax isn't all it could have been and that is a shame.
Still I shan't finish this review on a sour note, much of Bloodtide is top notch Doctor Who. It takes an established historical act and creates a scary, intelligent and enjoyable story out of it.
Plus it is the first story to have the cliffhanger statement "We have come for you!" since Pirate Planet part two... love those melodramatic punchlines!
A Review by John Seavey 19/3/04
This one was very much Jonathan Morris' "first-time writer disappointment". It was a bit bland, sort of shapeless, and featured loads of Darwin spouting out his own evolutionary theory like he was an educational film on his own life. Plus, the Silurians were dull, their voices made it difficult for them to be understood, and the suggestion that they engineered humanity a) is irritating, and b) doesn't fit in with their period of origin. (Then again, neither does the fact that they remember apes... but by placing them at the time of australopithecines africanus, Morris places them a few million years after the era their civilization was set in all their other appearances.) Oh, and the idea that a single Silurian sabotaged all the bunkers of all the Silurians all over the world is just stupid. But, you know, other than that, it wasn't actively bad.
A Review by Ron Mallett 17/3/07
For any die-hard fan, the return of the Silurians is reason for excitement - particularly since we haven't had a live action adventure featuring them since 1984. Well the verdict is that the wait was worth it! The Silurians return in fine style in what must be considered to be the prequel to beat all prequels. It is with typical irony that this story must be rated higher than its TV forebears. The premise of setting the story around the young Charles Darwin during his voyage on The Beagle is a very novel one. As far as historical stories go it has the atmosphere of the early educational historical adventure that predominated in the 1960's. One is given a insight into the basic theory of natural selection as it begins to form in young Darwin's mind.
Of course those more familiar with him know that he was really an aristocratic never-do-well, whose parents despaired of even getting him a cushy job in the clergy. They packed him off as the resident naturalist on an opportune voyage wherein he could satisfy his lust for shooting defenceless creatures. The real Darwin of course, didn't even tag his specimens, just tossed them into a bag. It was really other minds such as Gould that really lit the fires of his imagination when they reflected on his trophies, especially on the diversity between birds found on neighbouring islands.
What a nice idea though: that the classic concerned look he has as an old man in that famous portrait could be borne of secret insider knowledge - the idea that he knew that while his theory was valid that they did not apply to the human race, that there was no missing link and that instead homo sapiens were the result of Silurian experimentation. The idea that Silurians farmed humans for food is horrific but a logical extension of the mythos. Why else would they be less than eager to share the world with humans: a species that to them represents what a quarter pounder would to us! If we went into hibernation and awoke millions of years in the future, would we be in a hurry to share the planet with a race of bipedal cows?
The plot of the story is wound around an unethical scientist, Tulok, who, when given the task of improving the taste of the ape beasts, endows them with enough intelligence to allow the species to cultivate itself. Evelyn is quick to realise that this accounts for the lack of evidence of a missing link. Tulok is sentenced to exile but is rescued and exacts a terrible revenge on his people by interfering with the control unit of their hibernation systems - explaining another mystery. The Doctor and Evelyn encounter Captain Fitzroy and Darwin after their arrival in the Galapagos Islands. It is revealed that the local Governor has fallen under the spell of Tulok and is supplying him with human specimens. Through the action we also get to hear an adult Myrka in action which Tulok unleashes on The Beagle. Tulok's claim that he is our God, the human larder and Darwin's painful realisation of the truth that human beings are ultimately just animals are all sensational moments. The flashback sequences are also excellent; the moment when Tulok thinks he is about to die in exile is particularly chilling.
I particularly like the philosophical side to this story. When debating the nihilistic implications of their findings with Darwin, the Doctor professes not to know if there is a God or not but reflects that he has observed wherever there is a chance for life in the universe, it exists and thrives. This speech echos the "value of life" speech from The Mysterious Planet. Furthermore, we hear the detached Time Lord point of view in that in a space of time there will be no evidence that humans ever existed and that is just the way it is! Evelyn thinks that this idea is horrible of course, but then again she would, she's human after all. Furthermore when discussing the lack of evidence for the existence of Silurians, we hear another interesting idea - that is only the lowest and most stupid creatures fall into bogs to be perserved (unless of course they have been murdered and tossed in!). And no structures that we build could survive millions of years. Therefore mankind would have no idea of any intelligent species that may have pre-dated our own creation and development. It is clear a lot of thought went into the conception of the story and Jonathan Morris should be praised for his work.
The production is flawless, in typical Big Finish style. Colin Baker steals the show of course, carrying the show once more and is supported valiantly by Maggie Stables (the chemistry is very evident). The guest cast are also impeccable (particularly Daniel Hogarth as Tulok and Julian Harries as Governor Lawson). The sound succeeds in creating the illusions of such diverse settings as a forest, a prison, a Silurian subterranean complex and so on. All in all, the story would translate exceedingly well to screen as episodic television. Such a pity we didn't get stories such as this in the eighties... ah, but it's been said so many times before hasn't it? I think their creator Malcolm Hulke would have approved of the mature, realistic treatment of the Silurians as flawed individuals in this story. Morris is just the sort of chap we need to have writing for the new TV series.
The Evolution Experiment by Jacob Licklider 1/5/18
I have an interesting history with Bloodtide. I have personally listened to Bloodtide four different times, and every time I find my opinion on it has changed rapidly. My first listen, I wasn't really paying attention because I had heard so many good things about Project: Twilight. The second time I liked it mainly because it was a story with Evelyn in it and it has the Silurians not from Warriors of the Deep and Charles Darwin. The third time I found it so boring I fell asleep three times while listening and then just forgot whatever I enjoyed about the thing. This time was the fourth time, and it was another time I liked this one, but not as nearly as much as I liked it on my second listen through.
The plot sees the Doctor and Evelyn arriving in the Galapagos Islands during the voyage of the Beagle, where Charles Darwin will make his discoveries about evolution. Not all is well on the islands, as a colony of Silurians have woken up, which brings some interesting revelations about the creation of humanity, and this is where the plot really shines. Then it just becomes a rehash of Doctor Who and the Silurians. Luckily, once this happens, there is only about an hour left in the runtime. Doctor Who and the Silurians is already a good story, so it doesn't tip the scales into the realm of the story being bad, but it does make me know exactly where the plot is going and how everything resolves. What Morris does with his rehash is what he is famous for, making the story have a very bleak tone that I just love.
The way Morris characterizes the Doctor and Evelyn is great. While they are not romantically involved with one another, here they are written almost like they are an old married couple enjoying their retirement. Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor has such good repartee with Maggie Stables' Evelyn that I just can't help get lost in their performances. The Doctor wants to try and help negotiate with the Silurians, yet there aren't any real sympathizers with his cause. His actions are so futile that he ends up allowing their destruction because without it the world is doomed. Evelyn gets separated from the Doctor and shows just how independent she is. She's the one to come up with plans, and just the presence of Maggie Stables in this one is completely worth it.
Miles Richardson is the standout of the cast as Charles Darwin. The man has his faith broken over the course of the story, and it becomes hard to listen to. The man fears God but has the idea put into his head that God is dead, and it only gets worse when it is revealed the human race as we know it is all just a giant experiment from a crazy Silurian scientist. The implications break him, and it takes Evelyn and the Doctor explaining just how big the universe is to get him to come back to his senses and help save the day. Darwin is on the Beagle under Captain Fitzroy, who is pretty much the Brigadier, but after Part Two he becomes really bland and forgettable. The Silurian Tulok is played by Daniel Hogarth and is good at being a way to get the story going and provide a villain. He shows us a lot more of the Silurian's culture, which is a good thing as I found it interesting.
Jonathan Morris also pulls several twists from under our feet that all have horrifying implications. Other than the fact that humans were created by Silurians, Morris pulls out that, much like the way we eat meat, the Silurians eat us, which feels like a natural development for them as they easily could have. The scene when Evelyn and Darwin find the livestock freezer actually succeeded in making me nauseous. He also brings back the Myrka from Warriors of the Deep but as a powerful force. It was chilling to see what it did and almost funny to notice it is credited as played by Robert Shearman and William Johnson. I think Johnson may be a fake name meant to be the back half of the Myrka, and if I'm right, I find it hilarious.
To summarize, Bloodtide's biggest crime is that it is a ripoff of Doctor Who and the Silurians, which is already a better story. Everything is actually really good, with some great humor and a bleak tone, yet there are story problems with a blander supporting cast and an opening ripped from The Spectre of Lanyon-Moor almost word for word. 70/100