All the ‘i’s” dotted and all the “t’s” crossed, do everything by the rules follow them blindly and to the letter. Rules are not there to be questioned or interpreted, they are there to be followed – this way we have order any other way leads to anarchy. Doctor Who has been many things over the years, and one of the things it has done very very well is satire, more often than not satirising bureaucracy and this months Short Trips release follows in the footsteps of The Sunmakers, The Deadly Assassin & Paradise Towers in being a satire on a rather silly unthinking form of bureaucracy and also reiterating the thought that if you can change only one mind you can change a society.
New writer Tony Jones paints a world of pen pushers and civil servants where the fact that the rulebook states that someone is legally dead means they are dead even if they are standing in front of you and arguing that they are not! And it is in to this world of red tape gone mad that the Fifth Doctor and Peri have fallen. After saving the Ellani people of planet Beadledom 3 from the invasion of the Valtor our heroes are keen to leave. Unfortunately the TARDIS has been requisitioned and placed in a museum because the Doctor & Peri are technically dead – the technicality being that they used a transmit which is only meant to be for freight goods, that their original bodies were disintegrated & what are now walking & talking are nothing but copies…..
Nicola Bryant does a fine job of narrating going from exasperation to disbelief at the insane world of rules and regulations that is being described, a world where a rescue mission of soldiers sent to combat the invasion of the Valtor (which has been defeated by The Doctor) is more concerned about who to invoice for their wasted journey than the fact that there had been an invasion & that it was beaten. This as I said earlier puts me very much in mind of the Robert Holmes style tirades against petty bureaucracy and also in real life a conversation my wife told me about just the other day when almost a whole meeting was taken up deciding what “up to five” actually meant…..
To a new Doctor Who writer there can be no greater accolade than to be compared to Robert Holmes, but this story really is a Holmesian pastiche with all the wry hallmarks of his frustration at the small minded ho have an over inflated sense of self importance. In accordance with rule 345/3 subsection a paragraph c I award this 8/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #22 is a Fifth Doctor and Peri Brown story.
The Ellani of Beadledom 3 lived their lives in regulated harmony until they were invaded by the Valtor. Of course the Doctor and his new companion Peri were delighted to help out, but they didn’t know their biggest challenge wouldn’t be the Valtor army, but the Rulebook…
Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Tony Jones
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Nicola Bryant (Narrator)