On a trip through the halls of the TARDIS, Mel catches a glimpse of herself in the Space-Time Visualiser. What follows is a trip through the looking glass to a world where witchcraft and magic rule supreme…
Fans of the ‘Short Trips’ range and the Sixth Doctor have been treated a lot over the last couple of months. January saw Nicola Bryant in ‘The Authentic Experience’ and now we have ‘Mel-Evolent’ with Mel herself, Bonnie Langford, on narration duty.
Simon A Forward
The first thing you notice when listening to this story is how descriptive it is. Writer Simon A Forward has a real grip on the written word and the dialogue sparks off the page. He manages to create some great imagery, especially with the TARDIS theatre and the realm that shifts the action in the second half. The delightful description is perhaps one of the best things about this trip and only made greater with the inclusion of Bonnie Langford giving every word life.
This is also the first story from Forward to feature the partnership of the Sixth Doctor and Mel and he has a surprisingly good grip on the characters. Forward had previously worked with the Sixth Doctor way-back-when with ‘The Sandman’ but that story featured Evelyn. It is brilliant that Forward takes some of the tendencies that fans didn’t appreciate about Mel, the screaming, the carrot juice and the aerobics and uses them all in the story in a logical way. They aren’t used as gimmicks but actual plot devices. It all really adds to the story.
‘Mel-Evolent’ marks Bonnie Langford’s first ‘Short Trips’ role and, listening to this story, it’s baffling why she never featured in this range before. Langford is an excellent narrator, her voice sparks brilliantly with Forward’s skills as a writer and she energises the work in a way that perhaps no other actor could do.
Hearing Langford also getting to delve into Mel’s dark side is a joy as she brings the strong Big Finish version of Mel. All the while understanding that, in continuity terms, this story is early on in her time on the show. So she must bring some of the naivety she had in those early stories too.
While her impersonation might not be a pitch-perfect Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor is tough for narrators. But Langford does capture his spirit perfectly and you can hear that Baker would deliver the lines with the same inflection. For her opening salvo in the ‘Short Trips’ range, Bonnie Langford is excellent. Lets hope this isn’t the last we hear from her here.
‘Mel-Evolent’ is a very enjoyable story thanks to a brilliant script that is effortlessly brought to life by Bonnie Langford. What also makes it stand out is that it is a pretty original idea, delving into the dark side of fairy tales isn’t something ‘Doctor Who’ does very often. Helen Goldwyn makes the most out of this story as director, especially with its impressive score. Everyone deserves a lot of praise for this enjoyable slice of the dark side of ‘Doctor Who’.
Blogtor Rating – 8/10
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #38 is a Sixth Doctor and Mel story.
Mirror mirror on the wall, something stalks the TARDIS halls…
A glimpsed reflection in a dark and dusty corner leads Mel on a journey Through The Looking Glass.
Witchcraft and shadows reign.
Mel must face the evil at the heart of it all, while the Doctor battles to save a TARDIS determined to prove it’s not only bigger on the inside, but darker. Much darker.
Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Simon A Forward
Directed By: Helen Goldwyn
Bonnie Langford (Narrator)