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Doctor Who BF 8/3.6 The Scapegoat

December 15th, 2009 (01:22 am)

The Scapegoat, written by Pat Mills, starts with the eighth Doctor and Lucie enacting the Doctor-sees-female-companion-in-striking-outofbackground-outfit scene (as undergone by the fourth Doctor and Sarah in Pyramids of Mars, the fifth Doctor and Nyssa in Snakedance, and the ninth Doctor and Rose in The Unquiet Dead) without the whole thing appearing too ritualistic. This script suffers from the plague which many Big Finish productions endure, of lines lifted from old television Doctor Who scripts as if to flag up situations which echo those in old episodes for the slow, or (better) for the listener to imagine the Doctor's reaction. One such is Lucie's "I always dress for the occasion," at which one imagines the Doctor wincing at the memory of his torture by the Master in the TV Movie. However, if I were editing these scripts I'd ban the use of "Doctor, you shall die for this!" as I immediately imagine whoever says it as the Captain from The Pirate Planet, complete with Polyphase Avatron sitting on their shoulder.

The Scapegoat is a claustrophobic story, and for all its alleged setting in World War Two occupied Paris, the presence of a technologically-advanced goat-like race fetishizing theatrical stage machinery, fairground rides and medieval torture equipment left me with little more than a generic steampunk setting. Casting Clifford Rose as a Gestapo leader does not Secret Army make. The story takes a bleak view of existence, with Lucie all but forced to concede that within all species there are only hunters and prey, those who make things happen and those who are victims of events; but the Doctor identifies himself as a scapegoat and exile who has reinvented himself after being cast into "the deserts of time" by his own people. We may be in the darkness and only able to see pinpricks of light; but those pinpricks are entire worlds. Unfortunately the rest of us don't have the Doctor's regenerative powers, and the emphasis on these in his supposedly uplifting speech renders it somewhat pointless. The Scapegoat might get lost along the way, and the Doctor does seem to have lost count of his regenerations - if he has changed eight times, then surely this should be Christopher Eccleston delivering these lines, not Paul McGann - but it tries to do something different. What a pity it never focuses.