|Running Time||108 mins|
|Produced by||Season 27|
With Steven Johnson as the Doctor,
and introducing Sherry Howell as Monica Fallows.
Written and Directed by Paul Ebbs.
A Season Twenty-Seven Production.
|Synopsis: Mortally wounded after an encounter with the Daleks, the Doctor is forced to regenerate. Crash landing on earth, he finds himself quickly embroiled in the mystery of strange lights seen over the Essex Marshes, the disappearance of Monica Fallows brilliant Computer Scientist brother and the sinister infiltration of the British Establishment by a secret cult thought eradicated over four hundred years before.|
A Review by Paul Griggs 11/11/98
The first thing that you can't help but notice is how slick everything is. The much touted production values of Season 27 have put something together which sounds easily as good as the late Audio Visuals material, with decently put together effects and lo cation treatments. Especially notable are the "black mass" sequences in the temple of St. Mackaben the Usurper with a bunch of eerie devil worshippers chanting in unison. Top stuff. Add on top of this Steven Johnson's (Does this guy think he's Rupert Boot h or something? :) ) incidental score which bridges the scenes nicely and you have an audio presentation (in full stereo, just try listening to it on headphones) that "looks" as slick as the box and the website. Although, on the subject of Steve's music, I would have to say that I've listened to his arrangement of the theme almost 15 times now and it still doesn't grab me. This version seems to have no jagged edges, no thrust, which the Delaware and Season 23 arrangements also lack. Think of the orignal d um de dum baseline, the screaming guitars of the 80s or even the blaring brass of "GRACE: 1999." These are strong versions of the theme and possibly Steve needs to rethink this. (Or maybe not... who's to say?)
Paul Ebbs chooses to introduce the new Doctor with a regeneration, a tried and tested way of doing things that I feel wasn't really necessary in this case and has possibly been overdone. (The TV Movie actually having abou t the right balance for that sort of story.) However, the pre-title sequence that does the deed temporarily gives it the air of an old RKO serial or the Indiana Jones films. The regeneration isn't dwelt upon, and indeed, seems to have been less traumatic than previous changes for the Doctor.
Ah. The new Doctor... What can be said about the erstwhile Mr. Johnson. I'd have to say that anyone willing to stand up and play the part in an amateur production is a brave man indeed for should you be found wanting you can never live it down. (Wi tness Stephen Payne's attempts in the first Audio Visuals adventure, The Space Wail.) So what can be said. To be honest, nothing terribly negative, although I'm not sure I can go overboard with praise either. Steve portrays his new Doctor seemingly with little effort, holding the story and the other cast members together well enough. I suspect with a few more stories under his belt, a little more practise with the character and possibly a slightly stronger performance vocally he will give us someth ing truly marvellous. At the moment though, short of calling him "the one with the beard" or "the technobabbler" it is impossible to hang a tag on this Doctor.
As for the other cast members? As expected they are very much a mixed bag. Although no-one is downright terrible, there are one or two who just don't sound natural. However, special mentions do go to the villains, Edward Dutton as Septimus Porlock (except for the bit at the end where he sounds like that green duck Orville) and Victor Shields as Tench. Indeed, it's a pleasure to hear Victor's dulcet tones hailing from the emerald isle giving a bit more range to a cast that are otherwise Essex bound. New Co mpanion Sherry Howell as Monica Fallows really doesn't have an opportunity to demonstrate whether she will be any better than the television companions as in this story she is very much "one of the crowd." Again, we will have to see how this develops in l ater adventures, but for now the seeds of a decent Doctor/Companion relationship are there. It depends on the actors and writers to build on that.
The producers have aimed for a production that is meant to evoke their favourite era of the television series, seventies Doctor Who, with the cosy UNIT family and its class division values. (Please note that all the officers seem to be toffs and a ll the NCOs come straight from Albert Square.) While this is only a small thing to mention, I feel that it is in this particular aspect that Season 27 have actually failed. The 1970s style of Who that they've tried to emulate doesn't sit well with 1990s ideas which is a problem that The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space also had. You just can't go back and recreate old times. It would be better to forge onwards and cr eate your own truly original identity.
The story itself is nothing out of the ordinary and trots along at a fairly leisurely pace taking us from points A thru to Z. It's the UNIT era by the numbers right down to the last minute rescue from a hail of gunfire from the UNIT troops. Don't let this put you off. In the end, The Profit of Doom is an enjoyable 100 minutes of entertainment. If you're looking for a bit of fun in your Doctor Who then the fiver is well worth it, if you're looking for something a bit more serious in Doctor Who then may I suggest you go and watch Ghost Light again and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves.