Big Finish Productions
|Written by||P.J. Hammond and Andy Lane|
|Starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant|
|Synopsis: The Doctor and Peri visit the planet Targos Delta to check in on old friend Professor Albrecht Thompson, only to discover that he has vanished. He was last sighted taking a shuttle to the holiday resort of Paradise 5, then never seen again. The Doctor's curiosity is piqued. They must investigate, but they must do so stealthily... Peri will go undercover on Paradise 5, while the Doctor hides in the shadows. Because paradise holds a terrible secret beneath the white marble and golden trimmings. The mute Cherubs have a story to tell. And the Elohim are coming. Beware.|
The Serpent was There, In the Garden From the Beginning by Jacob Licklider 15/8/22
The weirdest story of the first season of the Lost Stories just has to be the fifth release, as it was taken from a rejected script from the Parts 9 to 12 spot of The Trial of a Time Lord which was eventually replaced with Terror of the Vervoids. Yes, Big Finish adapted a story deemed by John Nathan-Turner as having less potential than Terror of the Vervoids, one of the worst stories in the show's history. Once the story is actually listened to, you immediately jump to the rather large possibility that when making the decision to make Terror of the Vervoids, John Nathan-Turner was on strong drugs. Paradise 5 is a strong story about the futility of war and its effect on civilians, all set within a space holiday camp. Yes, that may be a really weird setting for a war story, but it actually works in a perverted way because of what holiday camps meant after World War I.
The plot involves the Doctor and Peri wishing to go on another holiday by visiting yet another old friend of the Doctor's. This time it's economist Professor Albrecht Thompson, who is working on Targos Delta, is a planet that is covered in ticker tape, used as a hard copy for the economy. Other than that interesting image in the brain, the Doctor and Peri find Thompson took a vacation to Paradise 5, an exclusive resort that many have been going to as a way to get away from the daily grind, often those who are prominent political figures or public figures. It's a day ending with the letter y, so the Doctor and Peri go to investigate, with Peri becoming part of the Paradise 5 staff while the Doctor works behind the scenes to figure out what the secret is behind the Paradise Machine. Now I'm going to have to go into spoiler territory for this one, as it is extremely important to know. The Paradise Machine takes people's minds and sends them to the higher dimensions, leaving their bodies as cherubs, little servants in the backstage area of Paradise 5. They are to be servants of the Elohim, a race of higher dimensional beings fighting a war and using these minds as soldiers, simply getting them killed as pawns in their game. This shows just how futile war is as, even if the Doctor stops Paradise 5, the war will continue on and the Elohim will find other soldiers to fight for them.
Colin Baker's performance in the final few scenes is interesting, as it is a melancholy note on just how corrupted paradise is almost always. It has the Doctor even complimenting the Daleks for actually fighting their own battles in one of the best speeches from the Sixth Doctor. Outside of that ending, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant play their parts as old friends, having a good time investigating Paradise 5, which is very odd for Peri and is a trait really meant for Mel. This makes sense of course, because this would have originally been Mel's introduction. Bryant does her best with the material, but in places it does feel a little bit forced. The supporting cast is really interesting, as the guests just blend into one, but of course that is the author's intention. Helen Goldwyn plays Stella and Bella, two identical unrelated characters who work on Paradise 5. Stella is definitely the more interesting of the two, as she begrudgingly ignores the disappearing guests on Paradise 5, while Bella is there in the background. The other host on the island is Lorelei, played by Andree Bernard, who is a deliciously evil woman in cahoots with the owner of Paradise 5. The Elohim are defeated by Mr. Winterbourne, a man looking for a job, played by Richard Earl, and his character is there just so we get a deus ex machina for a resolution.
The other two characters are Gabriel and Michael, played by Alexander MacQueen and James D'Arcy. They are the owners of Paradise 5, who are providing the guests to the Elohim, who are our voiceless villains of the story. Gabriel and Michael have an interesting relationship, as, while it is never stated, their actions lead me to believe they are lovers. Gabriel is the showman, while Michael is the quiet sadist, and this is really the way they can be summed up. What is really amazing is how well the story turned out, considering that Andy Lane only had a completed script for Part Two and storylines for Part Three and Part Four to work with. He had to restore Part One, and you really cannot tell, as it gets us right to where we need to be for Part Two to work. He also added in more subtext about the Elohim, as in the original outline they were just another race of aliens.
To summarize, Paradise 5 is an interesting look into what happens when John Nathan-Turner lets a better script get away for no good reason. The acting is spot on, and the emotions of what is happening to the people who disappear is excellent, as is the sense that the Doctor and Peri really didn't help anyone who had already been turned into a cherub. The characters are great, but the ending isn't, and Peri has quite a few problems, as her part was meant for Mel. 85/100