Big Finish Productions
Something Inside

Written by Trevor Baxendale Cover image
Format Compact Disc
Released 2006
Continuity After The Telemovie.

Starring Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas



A Review by Stephen Maslin 18/6/10

Something Inside changed my life. No, really. Before I slipped it into my disc player, I was a completist by nature. I hated having gaps, all too prone to that slightly nerdy tendency towards wholeness, keeping books or CDs I knew I would never read or listen to again just so I would not have to admit to any lack of thoroughness. Prior to its release, one could still have seen that trio of horrors, ...ish, The Rapture and The Sandman, side by side on my shelves, defying me to make a dent in the perfect vista of CD case edges. Medicinal Purposes, Creed of the Kromon, Dreamtime, Scaredy Cat and Pier Pressure, every one a lemon, had all tested my faith but my resolve was unshaken. Nature abhorred a vacuum, gaps remained anathema.

Something Inside cured me of all that. For it is so bad, so utterly, irredeemably bad in every way, that no one who values their dignity as a discriminating individual, able to tell the difference between a tulip and a turd, should tolerate it in their house for more than a second.

Where to begin? The script (from the same bloke responsible for The Dark Flame and The Draconian Rage) is one long cliche from start to finish, with dialogue to make a seven year old cringe. The cast don't even begin to start acting. One was used to having C'rizz stinking the place out every few months but in this monstrosity even McGann is dire, sounding desperate to get it all over with. The support cast are even worse. From what amateur dramatics disaster were they plucked? More to the point, why? It would be unfair to single out any one individual as they are all equally rotten. (And Something Inside is well over two hours long. A brain-numbingly torturous two hours.) The sound design lacks any semblance of having been designed at all, each scene sounding for all the world like a succession of cupboards. But the piece de resistance of sheer dreadfulness is the music.

Imagine a rather earnest but not very bright, spotty teenager getting a second-hand synthesiser for his birthday, one that can make noises which sound vaguely orchestral. Imagine that this annoying little herbert has been brought up by parents who consider Andrew Lloyd Webber to be high art and After Eight Mints to be the height of decadence. Imagine also that this wretched, pretentious little squit confuses merely having technology with being able to use it. Now imagine him, tongue poking out of the side of his mouth, playing the white notes with a single finger of his right hand, almost overcome by his own genius, and you might just approximate the unbelievable guff that arises. Oh, but there's more. Now imagine that every occurrence in the story, no matter how insignificant, is backed by the same ghastly, childish theme again and again and again and again. When I had the acute displeasure of hearing Something Inside, my neighbour came to see if I was okay as I was groaning so loudly, he thought I was dying. I was.

Since being cured of my addiction to completeness, many a Big Finish disc has found its way to a charity shop for some other poor sod to discover. Not Something Inside, oh no. That went in the bin.

I Can't Stand the Confusion in My Mind by Jacob Licklider 21/6/21

This is a story that people often have two vastly different reactions to. Either they ignore that it ever happened or they loathe it for being the collected tropes of the Eighth Doctor, especially with the Doctor becoming an amnesiac yet again and companions that really don't do much. Yet Trevor Baxendale is still great at putting in some excellent ideas that actually improve above the rather traditional and cliched manner of telling the story.

But what is that story? Well, it revolves around a high-security medical prison called the Cube where psychics, made to fight in an intergalactic war, are being imprisoned because they are not thought of as human beings anymore. This is Baxendale's first of two strokes of genius: if we ever had actual psychics on this level of automatically knowing everything in others' minds at a glance, something like this facility to experiment on them in the attempt to understand them and revert them to non-psychics would probably occur in the world. This is mainly down to the theme of fear of the unknown, as we don't understand the psychics. The second stroke of genius was explained by Stubagful in his He Who Moans Guide to the Eighth Doctor Audios Part 4, where he points out a lot of the references that on their own are good ideas. I like the idea of the Brain Worm, which is the classic The Thing alien that inhabits minds and is chasing down the inhabitants of the Cube and killing people. The thing is, we know what the worm wants: it wants to get out, which may be noble, but as it is a creation of several humans, it suffers from extreme greed and isn't happy when it eventually does get out.

The characters, however, aren't nearly as impressive. The Doctor, played by Paul McGann, while not having his memories sounds quite bored at times. It isn't nearly his worst performance as whenever Charley and C'rizz are in danger McGann is giving effort to sound distressed, but I think unlike Minuet in Hell McGann has difficulty being an amnesiac here, as he is still forced to be the Doctor and not a madman. He is still obviously giving his best efforts and likes the scripts but doesn't have the ability to pull off a good performance. This cannot be said for India Fisher as Charley. Although I love her character, Charley is really there to try and lead a group of characters through the Cube in a sequence that is just forgettable. She eventually leads to the reveal of who the Brain Worm is hiding in, but of course the character really just appears, and there is no way to discern them from the others.

It's really Conrad Westmass as C'rizz who is the shining one in this story as he is tortured - again, why is C'rizz getting tortured so entertaining? - and has to guide the Doctor. Westmass actually gets to get some of his murdering things off his chest, which allows a slight bit of closure for his character as time approaches his departure. The human villains of the story, Twyst and Rawden, are completely mad, and I find them to be hilarious and almost threatening, which is great.

I also have to say just how the direction and music stand out. Now Nicholas Briggs directed this story, and his style is again completely different from Gary Russell's. It makes the audio seamlessly flow from scene to scene and just works. The music done by Joseph Fox also is really good, as it feels a lot like something from a setting like this, which really helps me to picture the setting in my headm, as the cover art only gives you some vague covers of a bed that is all we get from the Cube.

To summarize, Something Inside is nowhere near perfect, and hey it really isn't that good, but there is enough here to like including C'rizz, the ideas and the direction and music, which is a breath of fresh air. 58/100