THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

Big Finish Productions
Scaredy Cat

Written by Will Schindler Cover image
Format Compact Disc
Released 2005
Continuity After The Telemovie

Starring Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas

Synopsis: Millennia ago, the people of the planet Caludaar pledged never to set foot on their sister planet Endarra. But what secrets does the planet hold? There are laws even the Doctor won't break. And while C'rizz learns that some tragedies can't be averted, Charley must decide who the enemy actually is. For death walks on Endarra, and this time she won't be denied.


Reviews

Holey shit! by Phil Ince 7/2/06

There is no score of 0 therefore it isn't possible to rate this item fairly. But please assume, despite the unity indicated, that the latest flushing from BFs endlessly streaming pipe is worthless.

Even shit can be recycled to encourage new life elsewhere. But what can we do with this?

Scaredy Cat appears to be an offcut from the abandoned failure of the Divergent Universe sequence. Humourless and of a banality previously unsuspected even by the low standards which Bog Flush exemplify, this is an embarassment.

This comes as a real surprise since it is directed by the exemplary Nigel Fairs. Fairs' work on the Faction Paradox series for BBV was everything Bog Flush might hope to be; beautifully cast, sharply-intelligent realisations of always interesting, sometimes glittering scripts. But even a director of Fairs' evident abilities is only able to do so much and with these materials, sadly that comes to precious little.

There are three outstanding aspects of this production.

Firstly, there is Doctor's vacuous sententiousness which is an embarassment when delivered by so smart a performer as Paul McGann; one cringes at almost every one of his lines. The author of this crude junk is clearly no philosopher and therefore has no wisdom to deliver through the Doctor's mouth.

Second, the entirely undifferentiated guest parts and their triteness; with only 4 guest speakers besides the unconvincing adult performing as a (presumably) spooky child, it would be fair to expect some differentiation of the parts but almost any of the three researchers could deliver any of their comrades' lines. And the intended characters are smirking sociopathic villain, crudely-blinkered scientist, etc etc; the endless staple of Bog Flush productions.

Finally, the depth of this script's failure and its utter absence of merit comes into focus when the villain leaps in an instant from supposing that his will has stopped it from raining to presuming he can use thought to control to murder.

Unless it's C'rudd and the Doctor, of course, in which case, he can't (a word which one would somehow expect to find written "carn't" if appearing in Schindler's dismal typing).

At that moment in this childish play, there is the possiblity given to develope some element of drama from a madman discovering himself gifted with a superhuman power and the growing horror of what he might realise could be done with it. But the script runs straight ahead without interruption to its purposeless denouement.


Below average becoming the norm? by Joe Ford 24/2/06

It's been a funny old year for Big Finish. Whilst I have been less than impressed with about 70% of their output and almost on the verge of quitting in favour of spending my money elsewhere, two recent releases have proven there is life in the old dog yet (The Council of Nicea and Thicker Than Water). Last month's Live 34 was an experimental release that did not take any risks and wound up being a monumental missed opportunity and coupled with this month's Scaredy Cat they form a distinctly unimpressive pair. I was right all along, Big Finish have given us everything they have to offer, all we are getting now are variations of releases they have already made and pretty pale imitations of them at that.

This is the second chance I have given to Will Schindler and like the lovely Rob Matthews' relationship with the work of Craig Hinton, I have been let down again. Most insulting is the fact that exactly the same problems arise here as the ones that plagued The Twilight Kingdom:

  1. Lack of ambition
  2. Tedious regulars
  3. Boring, unoriginal dialogue
  4. A standard but not impressive production
  5. A rushed storyline
All I want is to get through an audio release satisfied, to be entertained for a few hours. It doesn't seem too much to ask but it is becoming less and less likely that this is going to happen.

Take a look at some of the ideas used here. C'rizz is a big scary killer, unbeknownst to Charley and the Doctor (dealt with in Terror Firma). The planet is basically alive, experiencing pain and sharing a link with the villain (well that's just The Twilight Kingdom all over again). Charley is defiant and angry in the face of injustice (pick a story...) A trip back in time to the planet's history where the Doctor and C'rizz argue over the callousness of letting the people suffer because it is part of the timeline (that's The Aztecs innit!). There is a big camp villain who spouts out cliched rubbish like "Ahahaha you are all in my power!" and "I can make you kill the Doctor with my force of will!" (far too many stories to take note of here). I mean there just isn't one iota of fresh material here, it's as though Will Schindler has gobbled up as many Doctor Who cliches as possible (oh yeah there is even a companion locked in with a monster cliffhanger!) and regurgitated them into four episodes and plonked Paul McGann right in the middle of it. It is no wonder the guy sounds so bored (this really is one of his least impressive performances, he rushes much of dialogue as though to get it over and done with and injects no emotion into his voice at all, like pretending he cared about such a tedious script would be an insult to his abilities).

There was a bit of a hoo-hah over on the Outpost Gallifrey forum about the length of this story, charging 14.99 for a seventy-odd minute story has been deemed the ultimate blasphemy n some peoples eyes. These people should stop worrying about rubbish like that and be more concerned for how much cash they have forked out for the last three years' worth of rubbish from BF. Whilst it is a little steep for so short a tale (some Benny stories have been longer than this) it pleases me to see a writer trimming down his work and not forcing us to wade though lots of flabby padding. It is particularly fortunate with Scaredy Cat because the story is so monotonous that thirty odd minutes on top of its current running time might see me finally achieve my goal for living in Eastbourne and jump off of that famous lemming jump off Beachy Head. Whilst I have complained that the story is underdeveloped, none of the ideas chosen are really worth exploring in any greater depth so perhaps that criticism can be turned into a strength after all. We could have had more material featuring the sentient planet manifesting itself in the little girl but then we would have to put up with more horrifying scenes of the incredibly irritating little girl (who bizarrely sounds about forty years old) giggling and going "Scaredy Cat".

Cliched characterisation abounds, with most of the actors switching off in their second or third scenes and just saying the words with little or no meaning at all. There's the misguided scientist who wants to look into the nature of evil. The political demonstrator who gets given the gift of super powers and lets it all go to his head. The bullying, suspicious scientist's assistant. And some woman who stands around moaning quite a lot but not really contributing anything; I was never quite sure what her role was, considering Charley was there to be the objector. Needless to say, I cannot remember any of their names or any specific details about any of them and their performances were so underwhelming I couldn't even be arsed to open the CD sleeve and see what they look like.

Okay here comes the mantra, join in with me now:

Kill Charley and C'rizz...

KILL CHARLEY AND C'RIZZ...

KILL CHARLEY AND C'RIZZ...
KILL CHARLEY AND C'RIZZ!!!!!

I want them gone. Dead. Buried and forgotten. They are sooooo dull it is inexplicable that the creator of the eighth Doctor series would want to keep them on. I mean you have two pretty fine actors in Conrad Westmaas and India Fisher and you keep giving them absolute shite to speak. It is no wonder these wonderful performers haven't got the heart to give their all, when this is all the thanks they get for their hard work.

Don't get me started on why Charley is hanging around anymore. She's like a piece of cheese that has been left out to rot, it might have been tempting once but now it's putrefied and unappetising. She is just going through the motions, month after month. Getting captured, standing up to the enemy, arguing with C'rizz, stomping her feet, getting captured, saving the world, not sure whether she is in love with the Doctor or not on speaking terms with him. I love India Fisher, really I do, her performances in the second McGann series are second to no one, but this is flogging a dead horse far too long now. The reason I can think of for her staying is so we can finally get the big, dramatic "Oh my God C'rizz is a killer and his victims whisper to him inside his head and now he wants to decapitate me!" story which I'm fairly certain is due. Chances are it won't be as dramatic or as satisfying as Neverland would have been for a send off. Get rid of her Gary, Ms Fisher should go and do some telly work now; I would LOVE to see her on the box more.

Listening to C'rizz talk is like listening to a block of wood recite Shakespeare. He has nothing of worth to contribute to a story, his backstory is either too dull or too melodramatic to care about and he displays little or no personality beyond the basic "I am a Doctor Who companion and as such I will protest when required and act like a twat when I need to." He commits a deeply stupid act in Scaredy Cat, which makes me loathe him even more, sharing the antidote with the colonists against the Doctor's express wishes and causing an even worse future.

Making matters ten times worse is Andy Hardwick's now deeply predictable music, which is violin strings all the way, making the soothing blandness of the characters' dialogue even more temptingly snooze-some. Bring back Russell Stone, all is forgiven. Hardwick is responsible for some great scores over the past few years but now his music lacks variation or dramatic flair.

It breaks my heart dismissing so many people's hard work month after month but this just isn't working any more. I pray to God that nobody who made this read these pathetic scribblings because I doubt I could have done much of a better job. But in the end of the day I paid fifteen pounds of my hard-earned cash on this product and what I got was a tired and lazy effort and one that is so far below Big Finish's once-proud standards it depresses me. What gets me down even more is that this is becoming the norm now.

Final proof that it wasn't the divergent universe at fault but that the eighth Doctor adventures need a complete re-think. Compared to the stellar Fear Itself published earlier this year, these audios just don't make the grade.