|Episode Length||26 - 41 minutes|
With Andy Haynes, Jon Greenwood, Howard Richardson,
Mathi Rasanesan, Dave Grey, Jenny Bell,
Damian Brooks, Phil Wilkins, and Daniel Whittle.
Written by Howard Richardson.
Digital Editing, Music and Effects were by
the FloorTen Radiophonic workshop,
with additional sounds from the BBC sound effects library.
|Synopsis: Ralladon is a peaceful, friendly community with a reputation for enjoying the Arts. The Doctor and Sarah-Jane pay the small planet a visit in time to catch a controversial new play by their most famous playwright Antonio Del Meistro. But Del Meistro's plays seem to have taken a rather morbid turn of direction since his last offering and Sarah Jane suspects that he isn't quite all he seems... Can she and the Doctor prevent their oldest enemy from creating what must surely be the most hideous tribute to Evil ever devised..?|
The Shape of Things to Come? by Daniel Callahan Updated 15/5/00
Forget everything you've read or heard about The Mobius Trap. Forget every rumor, post, or flame. The new & official ending has been released, and it deserves a fresh listen-to.
Perhaps you've heard about the problems FloorTen had while completing this story. They should be legendary by now. Problems of the Shada or The King's Demons calibre. Except FloorTen had the chance to go back and get it right. It took them three attempts, but they did it.
This ending justifies listening through the entire ninety minute, three episode production. It no longer disappoints. In fact, the closure is very smooth, very Whovian, and it grafts itself to the main story better than the new footage added to the Star Wars trilogy. (No, I'm not sucking up. It's true. In most cases, Lucas added footage that looks like it was added after the fact. FloorTen, obviously with an advantage working in a picture-free medium, attempts something similar, but with seamless results.)
With a proper ending, the rest of the story falls into place far better than before. What creates Mobius Trap is the experience of their fictitious world that the creative team develops. The alien setting and culture seem natural, as the best science-fiction does. To achieve this quality of storytelling should be a writer's highest aim, and it's a trait that was entirely lacking in the last six years' of the televised program.
Andy Haynes' Doctor is his usually cheeky self, as kind and interesting a Doctor as one would want. He reminds of me of the vastly underrated Peter Cushing Doctor (or should I say, "Dr."). If there is a snag, it's that the Doctor doesn't do a whole lot to move the plot along. It's literally three episodes of discovering the Master's latest trap (a trap that's worthy of a professional writer's efforts, by the way), and only foils him in the end through luck. Something a script-editor could have addressed, by then, it's a miracle the story was completed at all.
The Master, played as the Ainley variety, sounds very close to the original, albeit without Ainely's eccelctic inflection (which few could imitate convincingly anyway). The rest of the cast, while obviously not professionals, pull their weight in usual FloorTen form (and even manage the pull the weight of others as the story progresses! But that's another story Howard can tell better.)
The music, although thrown together after a synth snuffed it, works in all its variety. As a classical buff, it's nice to hear it added in a proper fashion to DW.
And the good news continues: FloorTen will go on as a professional production team, aiming to create their own, copyrighted, profit-generating stories based on their experience of Regeneration, Jubilee, and Mobius. It's an impressive track record, one that other production teams will do well to keep in mind. Given a budget, there's a much FloorTen can achieve here.
With the new ending, the progress of FloorTen through its three stories climbs steadily higher, breaking boundaries that amateur groups weren't supposed to be able to touch. It's quite a spot from which to view the shape of things to come.
A Review by Ben Jordan 5/6/00
There can't be many people nowadays who aren't aware of all the fans who produce their own interpretations of the programme, something which the internet has made commonplace. This is either a curse or a blessing, depending upon your point of view. Another thing it depends on is who's Who you've listened to. Floor Ten are definitely one of the best audio groups out there. Long before Big Finish came on the scene, Floor Ten was doing its stuff, and I can remember thinking how great it was to hear new stories once more. We now of course have officially-produced Doctor Who, but I'll still be listening to what Floor Ten has to offer. Big Finish, no matter how much I appreciate what they're doing, are a very small and insular clique of writers/producers, and logically therefore will output a very narrow interpretation of the Whoniverse. Floor Ten's interpretation couldn't be any more different if they tried (their stories have a Season 17 flavour), and thus their (and others) presence helps to redress the balance, even if Big Finish are the only ones with professional actors. But I was meant to be reviewing an actual story right?
Floor Ten's third and final Who story for the time being (they do other sci-fi as well) sees the Doctor and Sarah visiting Ralladon, a place similar enough to Earth - or England to be precise (unless you count the fact that a Ralladon summer lasts for 30 years!), a seemingly good place for a holiday. Of course nothing's peaceful with the Doctor about. Who is the mysterious Del Maestro - the finest actor on the planet, and why does his work sound so much like Shakespeare? Who else but the Master! And for a change he's not hell-bent on taking over the universe. This time he seems to have a more poetically-inspired plan in mind - a symbol of tribute to his evil genius. Something the size of a planet. To say more would ruin it for you.
It's amazing how little the Master has been used in the last 10 years, be that in books, audio or whatever. What's more amazing is how much Damian Brooks can sound like him. Not that I've heard many Master impressions, but I defy anyone to get as close to Anthony Ainley's performance as Damian can. It made for one of the most memorable cliffhangers I've ever seen/heard when the Master appears in episode one.
And although the Sarah in Mobius Trap is indeed Sarah Jane Smith, Andy Haynes' Doctor is entirely his own. If one word could be applied to Andy's performance it would be consistent, and I mean consistent in all three Floor Ten stories; something you're less likely to get in fan projects, and a great strength here. I have to admit that acting can sometimes be Floor Ten's weakpoint, but hey, they didn't claim to be professionals, so you know what's on offer when you download. This doesn't mean that all the acting is therefore awful. It isn't. The regulars are actually pretty good most of the time - it's just that some of the performers sound very much like they are reading from a script, and no matter how much compromise I can give to fan audio, it does detract sometimes.
But we have to look at this in balance. For one thing, the enjoyment that these people get out of making their craft is very much in evidence. Combine that with their obvious dedication to doing their best, and many of the shortcomings can be forgotten. And of course the real thing often had bad acting too. Having heard their previous two stories, I can say that Mobius Trap is Floor Ten's finest hour. They get better and better with every story. Howard Richardson does all his own music, and the audio is clear and sounds great on the headphones. Floor Ten's production values really do sound professional, and deserve to be recognised. And I don't think anyone could say that their stories aren't original. They know how to capture the nuances of the show with expertise. After listening to a scene where the Doctor is having a conversation with a cat, I thought to myself, that's Doctor Who! The ending does not disappoint either. It makes you want more.
I think with fan audio, you either like it or you don't (and that includes BF). I also think that many people don't like Doctor Who in audio-only format. However, if Doctor Who were ever to return, there's no way that it won't be radically different to how it was. It could only ever be glitz and action over plot, since that's what a modern audience wants. The only new Who you're likely to get that retains the spirit of the original is with something like The Mobius Trap. And it's free, so give it a go. You just might like it.