As I sit here typing this â€œBaby Come Backâ€ (at least I assume that that is the name) is playing on the radio. Not the best song in the world if I am honest, but it echoes my thoughts on Blue Forgotten Planet.
Blue Forgotten Planet is India Fisherâ€™s swansong as companion Charley Pollard and let me tell you, this story makes up for the lack of attention to the Charley situation shown in Paper Cuts in a massive way.
The Earth is in a state of emergency after a massive viral outbreak, leading groups of humans to be treated like cattle or lepers. Herded together and living like wild animals these cast away humans are reverted to the most basic instincts and intellect. However some of them are aware that things are not right and as they try to lead a rebellious attack on the camps of the healthy the Doctor and Mila/Charley find themselves in the middle of the situation.
The Doctor is shocked to learn of this new virus and his memory tells him that such an outbreak has never happened in this era before. When he tries to lend a hand towards curing the ailing humans he is treated as the enemy even take hostage. Itâ€™s his way.
Meanwhile, Mila/Charley, still hiding her true identity from the Doctor, is shocked to learn that the Viyrans are on hand doing all they can to help the human race. But this time they are not alone.
The events of this story pick up on the events of Patient Zero and the Viyrans are once again given voice by character actor Michael Maloney. It has to be said that everything from the voice effect to the actorâ€™s performance is perfect. The coldness of the creatures is very chilling at times as it not as straightforward as a Dalek or Cybermen. The Viyrans honestly wish to rid the universe of all viruses, but they lack the social skills to seem trustworthy, so their presence comes across as cold or emotionless which really brings a nice contrast to a race that wants to do good. But can they go to far in their plight against ridding the universe these plagues? Is there a point where the help should stop?
Whatâ€™s really interesting about this story is that every one of the characters are all working towards the same goal. There is no alien invasion. No endless war to stop and no subjugation of the human race. The real conflict lies in the ways the different factions want to fix the problem. So you can imagine the Doctorâ€™s struggle getting each side to agree with another without sounding like the enemy.
The Doctorâ€™s conflicts do not stop here though. Amidst trying to save the human race and cleaning up a mess started by the Daleks in Patient Zero â€“ which he gets blamed for of course â€“ he now comes face to face with two Charley Pollards. His reactions to the both of them are not what you would expect either, and it is safe to say, not what the Charleys were expecting either.
Itâ€™s in situations like this that the Doctor seemly does what he should. In the new series we would probably see the Doctor blubbering about the fact that Rose may not be Rose and forgetting the main matter at hand, but here we get a more realistic approach to the situation, and one that reflects how the Doctor has been treated ever since running into Charley.
Now as I was saying at the beginning of this review, “Charley come back”! I know every character has their time and Charley has had a good run, but I think she could have gone on for a bit longer. Though it must be said that while I wish she didnâ€™t have to go, I feel Elizabeth Sladen said it best when she noted that it was good for her to leave Sarah Jane while she was still popular.
India, I wish you luck in all that you do and I thank you for all that you have done so far.
While Iâ€™m on the subject of India, I feel it is worth mentioning her skills as an actress again. Iâ€™ve already brought up her range of emotion and her elegant subtleties in playing the duel roles needed for this trilogy in other reviews, but this time I was extremely impressed to learn that all of Charleyâ€™s scenes with Mila/Charley in Blue Forgotten Planet were not recorded twice.
Generally scenes where actors play two characters having a conversation with each other are recorded with a stand in so that the main actor can find the character of the moment. Here, India effortlessly switched back and forth between her two characters live in the recording booth. The concentration and skill needed to do this so smoothly seem to come natural to her.
Out of this latest installment of the Big Finish Trilogies, Blue Forgotten Planet has to be my favorite so far. Not just because of the final wrap up to the Charlotte Pollard /Sixth Doctor wrap up, but because of the truly Intelligent story surrounding them.
Blue Forgotten Planet is available on MP3 and on CD from Big Finish now.